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In This List

Wind industry looks for new wings; Coal industry hopeful after Gianforte wins

Essential Energy Insights - September, 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August

Bull market leaves US utilities behind in August

Utilities, midstream reckon with energy transformation on the horizon


Wind industry looks for new wings; Coal industry hopeful after Gianforte wins

Top News

Facing a drop-off, the US wind industry looks for new wings

Brandishing a "brand new attitude," the U.S. wind power industry has taken over as the country's No. 1 renewable energy sector by "delivering on our promises," American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan said at the trade group's annual conference, held May 22-25 in Anaheim, Calif. The sector, which last year unseated hydroelectricity as the top U.S. renewable resource in terms of total installed generating capacity, plans to remain on top by sticking to that formula.

Pipeline applications to be among top priorities of reconstructed FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has never had to operate without a quorum before this year, and the commission will likely remain shorthanded for months more before it regains the minimum number of commissioners to vote. The reconstituted commission will face a massive amount of business that has been accumulating during the downtime, and observers said the unprecedented rush will dictate the FERC agenda for months.

Coal industry hopeful after Gianforte wins Montana House seat

The coal industry is thrilled with Republican Greg Gianforte's victory in a special election to fill Montana's sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Gianforte won the seat with 50.2% of the vote, according to election results reported by The New York Times. Democratic opponent Rob Quist got 44.1% of the vote for the seat left vacant when the Trump administration appointed Ryan Zinke to head the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Power

* Bechtel Corp. and Fluor Corp. are said to be readying their bids to take over construction of Southern Co.'s Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant expansion project in Georgia from bankrupt contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC by August, Bloomberg News reports. Fluor is already involved in the project as a subcontractor.

* The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Agency for International Development is looking into approximately $890 million of loans approved by the Overseas Private Investment Corp. for five Chilean solar farms and a hydroelectric project, Reuters reports. The U.S. government is concerned that loans may not be fully repaid, but OPIC believes it would recover the loans in the coming decades.

* U.S. President Donald Trump privately told his confidants, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to pull the country out of the Paris climate agreement, Axios reports, citing "three sources with direct knowledge."

* A federal grand jury has indicted former Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce on charges of taking bribes in exchange for the commissioner's vote to increase customer rates for a small water and sewer utility in Pinal County, Ariz.

* The Missouri Senate voted 24-5 to pass legislation that would allow the state Public Service Commission to set special electric rates for certain large customers to create jobs in the state, The Associated Press reports. The state House of Representatives had earlier approved the bill and it now needs the signature of Gov. Eric Greitens, who had voiced support for the legislation.

* The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report assessing how the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing process for an unfinished permanent nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain could be restarted and proceed to completion.

* The U.S. informed the World Trade Organization that it initiated a safeguard investigation on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, following a petition from Suniva Inc. The U.S. International Trade Commission plans to rule on Suniva's injury claim by Sept. 22.

* Russia has launched an auction for up to 1.9 GW of renewable energy, Bloomberg News reports. Moreover, state-owned nuclear company Rosatom Corp. told Bloomberg News that its plan to make turbines is attracting interest from General Electric Co. and Siemens AG for potential partnerships.

Natural gas/midstream

* The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it cannot provide an estimate on when it might issue a wetlands permit for the 120-mile PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC natural gas pipeline project until the company provides more information on the route.

* LINN Energy Inc. reached a deal to sell its interest in its noncore Salt Creek Field, Wyo., properties to Denbury Resources Inc. for $71.5 million, according to a news release. Upon closing of LINN Energy's Jonah, South Belridge and this newly announced Salt Creek asset sales, the company will have extinguished all remaining outstanding debt, which stood at $8.4 billion at the end of 2015.

* Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff denied Rover Pipeline LLC's request to resume drilling activities for its 3.25-Bcf/d natural gas pipeline project and the company behind the project now expects a delay in its in-service date.

* Lonestar Resources US Inc. signed agreements with unaffiliated parties to acquire oil and gas properties in the Eagle Ford Shale play for approximately $116.6 million. The properties, which are located in Karnes, Gonzales, DeWitt, Lavaca and Fayette counties, Texas, have proved reserves of about 25.4 million barrels of crude oil, 3.1 million barrels of natural gas liquids, and 17.5 Bcf of natural gas, equating to 31.4 million barrels of oil equivalent as of Dec. 31, 2016.

* Husky Energy Inc. has decided to proceed with the West White Rose project offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, according to a news release. The project has an expected gross peak production rate of about 75,000 barrels per day in 2025, with the first oil expected in 2022.

* In reversing a November 2016 decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that natural gas producers can deduct the post-production expenses from royalties paid to landowners, The Associated Press reports.

* Oil and gas company Apache Corp. has tapped the National Cave and Karst Research Institute to study aquifers around Balmorhea State Park in Reeves County, Texas, where it discovered 15 billion barrels of oil and gas, the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix reports.

* Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Darren Woods wrote a personal letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him not to pull the country out of the Paris climate agreement, the Financial Times reports.

* An unnamed company has filed an application with the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas for an exclusive oil and gas exploration license in Alaska's Susitna Basin area, according to the Alaska Dispatch News.

Coal

* Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to review his misdemeanor conviction of conspiracy to violate mine safety laws. Blankenship had publicly announced his intention to ask the high court to review a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision shortly after he concluded his one-year prison sentence.

* State legislatures in Alabama and Texas have passed resolutions urging Congress to extend tax credits to support carbon capture technologies. "We hereby urge the Congress and the President of the United States to enact legislation to expand and extend the current federal tax credit for carbon capture, utilization, and storage under Section 45Q of the Internal Revenue Code," the resolution adopted May 19 by Alabama senators said.

* The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council is not expected to decide on a permit for a planned Ramaco Resources Inc. mine until mid-summer, The Associated Press reports.

Commodities

* Taking the lead from the June gas contract that rolled off the board ahead of the long weekend with a 5.2-cent gain at a finish at $3.236/MMBtu, NYMEX July natural gas futures were tethered to the downside in overnight trading leading up to the Tuesday, May 30, open amid fundamental weakness. At 6:37 a.m. ET (1037 GMT), the fresh front-month contract was 11.7 cents lower at $3.193/MMBtu.

* Price action for power dailies could be choppy with a downside bias in the truncated workweek's opening session Tuesday, May 30, as varied demand forecasts for Wednesday combine with the recent weakness at the natural gas futures complex.

* Following a recent rally, seasonal nitrogen oxide emissions allowances under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule tumbled heading into the end of May. As of the week ended May 26, vintage 2017 CSAPR seasonal NOx allowances were seen in a bid-and-offer spread of $650 to $750, down from a level of $700 to $800 the week prior.

SNL Image

New from RRA

* During a May 23 commission meeting, the Delaware Public Service Commission voted to adopt a proposed order authorizing Delmarva Power & Light Co. a $31.5 million (5.53%) electric distribution rate increase (Docket No. 16-0649). The order approves a settlement that specifies a 9.7% return on equity but is silent with respect to the other traditional rate case parameters underlying the rate increase.

Quoted

"Coal doesn't even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock," said Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.

The day ahead

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. equity markets. To view more SNL equity market indexes, click here. To view more SNL Energy commodities prices, click here.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some links may require registration or a subscription.