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Western grid advocates press case; stage set for coal-fueled W.Va. Senate fight


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Western grid advocates press case; stage set for coal-fueled W.Va. Senate fight

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Western grid advocates press case to Calif. lawmakers

Speaking from the same podium where California Lt. Gov. and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom earlier this year pronounced the Western regional grid initiative "dead right now," a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council said the proposal to merge the California ISO with transmission operators across the West has a stronger pulse than many people realize and is more important than ever.

Bernstein calls shale gas efficiency gains 'terrifying' amid supply glut

The average initial production of a U.S. shale gas well rose 34% in 2016, an efficiency leap that can be a blessing or a curse depending on where you sit in the gas stream, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC's analysts said in an Aug. 7 research note.

Stage set for coal-fueled Senate fight in state where Trump promised rebound

While it might be difficult to imagine a political race more coal-centric than West Virginia's 2016 gubernatorial square-off between a billionaire coal operator and an industry-backed opponent with the last name "Cole," a 2018 match for a U.S. Senate seat in the state is shaping up to be just that.


* Just as it amassed a sizable fleet of wind farms in recent years, Brookfield Renewable Partners LP sees a move into battery storage as its next big growth opportunity — though a "meaningful investment" is still a ways off, the company's chief executive said.

* South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants at least one of the abandoned nuclear power reactors at the V.C. Summer expansion project to be completed, and is considering a number of options to make that happen, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing "a person close to the governor." Those options include a sale of Santee Cooper's 45% stake in the expansion project or a sale of the utility, the Journal adds.

* Federal regulators have issued a final supplement to an earlier environmental impact statement in favor of Cape Wind Associates' planned 468-MW Nantucket Sound Offshore Wind Farm (Cape Wind) near the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

* A draft federal climate report has concluded that the effects of climate change are already being felt by Americans, contradicting claims by President Donald Trump and some members of his Cabinet, The New York Times reported. According to the Times, the report is still awaiting approval from the Trump administration.

* The solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will affect approximately 1,900 utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants in the U.S., but will not create reliability issues for the bulk power system, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Of the affected plants, only 17 are located in the path of totality, where the sun will be completely obscured by the moon, the EIA said.

* Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's administration is considering rules that would designate woody biomass as a form of renewable energy and make it eligible for a state subsidy, The Boston Globe reported. But environmental advocates are against the plan, saying it would increase carbon emissions.

* Rep. Gary Glenn, who chairs Michigan's House Energy Policy committee, may sue the state Public Service Commission if it moves forward with proposed rules that threatens the state's 10% choice market, The Detroit News reported. Gov. Rick Snyder enacted in law Public Act 341 last year that preserves the 10% cap on the electric choice market, but the law requires the PSC to implement a reliability charge called a capacity charge on alternative energy providers who cannot meet reliability needs over the next five planning years.

* A Galesville, Wis., farmer could receive $13.5 million after the a jury sided with him in his case against Xcel Energy Inc. over stray voltage, the La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune reported.

Natural gas/midstream

* As oil and gas price weakness dragged on in 2016, big energy companies again saw reductions in U.S. oil and gas reserves, business advisory firm EY found in a new report.

* A BP plc natural gas well in the Mancos Shale achieved an average 30-day initial production rate of 12.9 MMcf/d, which is the highest early production rate achieved in the past 14 years within the San Juan Basin, the Houston Chronicle reported. "This result supports our strategic view that significant resource potential exists in the San Juan Basin, and gives us confidence to pursue additional development of the Mancos Shale, which we believe could become one of the leading shale plays in the U.S.," said Dave Lawler, CEO of BP's U.S. Lower 48 onshore business.

* With the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about to regain a voting quorum, the developers behind Nexus Gas Partners LLC jumped to ask the agency to approve their 1.5-Bcf/d pipeline project.

* Energy Transfer Partners LP said sabotage or accident could have been the reason for the inclusion of diesel in the drilling fluid that spilled during the construction of its Rover natural gas pipeline in Ohio, Reuters reported. The partnership is prohibited from using diesel under its permit.

* Enterprise Products Partners LP subsidiary Enterprise Products Operating LLC priced a $1.7 billion public offering of its two series of junior subordinated notes to repay its debt. The securities comprised of $700 million of series D non-call 5 notes due Aug. 16, 2077, and $1 billion of series E non-call 10 notes due Aug. 16, 2077.

* U.S. Eastern District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl ruled that Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC may use eminent domain to seize property in Pennsylvania's Conestoga Township to pursue its Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project, The Associated Press reported.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking nominations and comments on all available tracts in the 22.8 million-acre national petroleum reserve in Alaska, according to a news release. "Offering all tracts for nomination is in response to the Secretary's Order and will jump-start Alaskan energy production in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska," said Katharine MacGregor, acting assistant secretary for lands and minerals management.


* Arch Coal Inc. has won a legal victory over former employees who sued the coal producer for including holdings in its own stock in staff retirement savings plans.

* Coal production in the Powder River Basin rose by 21.7% in the second quarter year over year, as the region's large companies ride a new wave of optimism for the future.

* China's coal imports totaled 19.46 million tonnes in July, a decrease of about 10% from June and an 8.3% decrease from July 2016, Reuters reports. Despite the recent decrease, the country's year-to-date imports were up 18.2% at 152.71 million tonnes.


* July hydroelectric power production in the Pacific Northwest diminished sharply versus the prior month, amid dry weather, but was mixed versus historical levels.

* Major term markets favored losses during the week ended Aug. 4 driven mostly by the transition of prompt-month products from August to September and decreased fueling costs owing to a decline in gas futures.

* After advancing by 2.7 cents in the week's opening session to settle at $2.801/MMBtu, NYMEX September natural gas futures extended higher overnight ahead of the Tuesday, Aug. 8, open amid ongoing technical buying and despite continued fundamental weakness.

* Price activity for next-day power could favor the upside Tuesday, Aug. 8, as generally stronger demand anticipated at midweek combines with subdued ongoing gains at the natural gas futures complex.

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New from RRA

* In a report filed on Aug. 4, the Virginia State Corporation Commission staff expressed certain concerns regarding the proposed acquisition of Washington Gas Light Co. parent WGL Holdings Inc. by AltaGas Ltd.


"It is difficult to imagine why anyone would choose to build an unlined ash waste pond in karst terrain immediately adjacent to a river," said Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in a ruling that ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to close the coal ash pit at the Gallatin power plant and move the waste to a suitably protected storage site.

The day ahead

* The following companies will hold their second-quarter 2017 earnings conference calls: AES Corp., Natural Resource Partners LP and VTTI Energy Partners at 9 a.m. ET; American Midstream Partners LP at 10 a.m. ET; Pattern Energy Group Inc. at 10:30 a.m. ET; Cheniere Energy Inc., Otter Tail Corp., Plains All American Pipeline LP, Plains GP Holdings LP; TransMontaigne Partners LP at 1 p.m. ET; Enphase Energy Inc. at 4:30 p.m. ET; and Arc Logistics Partners LP, Vivint Solar Inc. and Western Refining Logistics LP at 5 p.m. ET.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed 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.

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