Ariz. regulators approve policy to end net energy metering for solar customers
Arizona regulators decided in a late-night vote to end net metering as a matter of policy for rooftop solar customers, ending a two-year proceeding for determining the value and cost of distributed generation. Over the objections of solar parties, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted 4-1 on Dec. 20 to lower the compensation amount for power that customers send to utilities from their solar panels.
Obama's offshore drilling ban 'a stick in the spokes' of Trump's energy plans
President Barack Obama's attempt to burnish his environmental legacy with a last-minute ban on drilling in some federal waters will make life complicated for President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on rolling back energy regulations but likely will not have a quick way to reverse this policy, Washington energy observers said.
DOE taps untouched multibillion-dollar loan program for fossil fuel projects
The U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment to guarantee loans of up to $2 billion to construct the world's first methanol production facility to use carbon capture technology. The commitment was awarded to Lake Charles Methanol LLC for the construction of a plant in Lake Charles, La. The company plans to sell the captured carbon to Denbury Onshore LLC for enhanced oil recovery in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.
* Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed Senate Bills 437-438 that will update the state laws regarding energy market, utility rate cases, renewable energy and energy waste reduction. The measures are now Public Acts 341 and 342 of 2016. "This legislation will make it easier for our state to meet its energy needs while protecting our environment and saving Michiganders millions on their energy bills," Snyder said in a statement.
* Duke Energy Carolinas LLC received long-anticipated federal approval to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Dec. 21 said it issued two combined construction and operating licenses to the Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary for the 2,234-MW William States Lee III Nuclear Station in Cherokee County, S.C.
* American Transmission Co. LLC's proposed 345-kV transmission line cleared the scrutiny of Illinois regulators. The company now plans to file an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for the northern portion of the $55 million project, which will accommodate increasing power flows occurring from Wisconsin to Illinois, according to a news release.
* Florida Power & Light Co. will shutter its Cedar Bay Generating coal power plant by the end of 2016. The NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary announced on Dec. 21 a formal retirement date of Dec. 31 for its 250-MW coal plant in Jacksonville, Fla.
* Norway's sovereign wealth fund, Norges Bank Investment Management, has decided to exclude 15 companies, including Alliant Energy Corp., Emera Inc. and Westar Energy Inc., from its portfolio based on the product-based coal criterion. The fund also placed 11 companies, including CMS Energy Corp., OGE Energy Corp., Pinnacle West Capital Corp., SCANA Corp., Southern Co. and Talen Energy Corp., under observation for potential exclusion.
* Apex Clean Energy is challenging a decision by Perquimans County, N.C., officials to deny the company a permit for the proposed $400 million Timbermill wind farm, The Perquimans Weekly of Hertford, N.C., reported.
* The counties of Manitowoc, St. Croix, Brown and Kewaunee in Wisconsin are asking the state to finance a study on wind turbine impact on human health, according to the Manitowoc (Wis.) Herald Times Reporter.
* Mitsui E&P USA LLC reached an agreement to sell an approximately 14.3% stake in the Marcellus Shale gas project in Pennsylvania to Alta Resources Development LLC for $207 million, according to a news release. The assets produce about 70 million cubic feet daily, representing 20% of the company's total daily production in the overall project.
* FERC gave Gulf South Pipeline Co. LP the go-ahead to start construction on a project to deliver natural gas to Freeport LNG Development LP's export terminal under development in Brazoria County, Texas.
* As part of its oil and gas modernization program, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is making online filing the default method of submitting applications permit to drill and notices. The rule "concludes another key element of our oil and gas modernization program by moving BLM away from the hardcopy application process," BLM Director Neil Kornze said in a statement.
* Mitsubishi Corp. plans to deploy a new LNG carrier to its Cameron LNG project in the U.S, according to a news release. The new vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2019 and will be owned by Diamond LNG Shipping 3 Pte. Ltd., a ship-owning joint venture formed between Mitsubishi, Toho LNG Shipping Co. Ltd., Tohoku Electric Power Co. Inc. and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha.
* The Railroad Commission of Texas released preliminary production results for October that totaled 73,565,318 barrels of crude oil and 582,136,569 Mcf of gas from oil and gas wells. The figures are based on production volumes reported by operators.
* Former WPX Energy Inc. Vice President Ken McQueen has been appointed cabinet secretary of New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, according to a news release. McQueen succeeds David Martin, who retired earlier this year.
* FERC granted authorization to Golden Pass Products LLC to build and operate the approximately $10 billion, 15.6 million-tonnes-per-annum LNG export terminal near Sabine Pass, Texas.
* A panel of Maryland lawmakers will decide next week whether to ban fracking or extend a moratorium on the controversial oil and natural gas drilling technique in the western part of the state, The Associated Press reported.
* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has agreed to give Peabody Energy Corp. access to another 340,000 tons of federal coal at the Foidel Creek mine, also known as the Twentymile mine, in Colorado, The Associated Press reported.
* A court in China's Jiangsu province jailed two former executives of state-owned Shanxi Coking Coal Group Co. Ltd. over corruption charges, Reuters reported. The two executives, namely former Shanxi Coking Coal Chairman Bai Peizhong and former Deputy Manager Liao Shuanzhu, were arrested in 2011 on charges of corruption, bribery and illicit gains.
* Foresight Energy LP was awarded a 360,000-ton coal contract to be provided to East Kentucky Power Cooperative Inc. over three years. Documents from the Kentucky Public Service Commission show that Foresight agreed to supply the coal for EKPC's Spurlock power station at a rate of 120,000 tons per year. Deliveries are scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2017.
* January 2017 natural gas futures have struggled to find direction recently, with upside breakouts quickly followed by downside reversals and vice versa. Technical indicators suggest that prices can rally, but there is not consensus. Trade on Wednesday, Dec. 21, followed a sell-off of 12.9 cents Tuesday, Dec. 20, to trade nearly 20 cents higher midmorning, as traders focused on a potentially impressive withdrawal from inventories when the next weekly report is released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
* After surging by 27.9 cents Dec. 21 to a finish at $3.542/MMBtu, January 2017 gas extended gains overnight ahead of the Thursday, Dec. 22, open, as traders jockeyed for positions leading up to the midmorning release of the weekly storage data poised to show a further acceleration in the rate of inventory erosion. At last glance, January 2017 natural gas was trading at $3.561/MMBtu, up 1.9 cents overnight.
* Day-ahead power prices could vary Thursday, Dec. 22, as predominantly weaker demand forecasts for the close of the workweek run counter to ongoing gains at the natural gas futures complex. Surging almost 28 cents in the prior session following a string of losses, front-month January 2017 futures were extending slightly higher early Thursday ahead of the opening bell.
New from RRA
* On Dec. 20, the Michigan Public Service Commission directed Consumers Energy Co. to provide additional information as "expeditiously as possible" regarding the company's announcement that it intends to terminate early its power purchase agreement with Entergy Corp. for the purchase of electricity from the 811-MW Palisades nuclear power plant.
* According to Regulatory Research Associates, the Georgia regulatory environment continues to be relatively constructive from an investor viewpoint.
"The policy of the State of Nevada clearly supports the development and growth of diverse forms of solar and renewable energy as a priority, including NEM," the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada said in a draft order to be considered Dec. 22 raising the possibility that net-energy metering, ended a year ago, will be reconsidered, at least in northern Nevada.
The day ahead
* The EIA natural gas storage report is due out today.
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