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New England still relying on LNG from abroad; US coal fatalities at 3-year high


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New England still relying on LNG from abroad; US coal fatalities at 3-year high

Top News

New Year marks leadership change for Portland General Electric

On Dec. 31, when Portland General Electric Co. CEO Jim Piro steps away from a decadeslong career, he will leave behind a utility and industry that looks a bit different than when he began.

As US exports more natural gas, New England continues to rely on LNG from abroad

Even as the U.S. sends more natural gas to the rest of the world via the Cheniere Energy Inc. Sabine Pass facility and Dominion Energy Inc.'s Cove Point LNG terminal prepares for commercial service, New England still takes LNG from overseas to help alleviate the region's winter gas supply volatility.

After record low in 2016, annual US coal fatalities back to 3-year high

Just a year after the U.S. coal sector celebrated the lowest workplace fatality count in modern history, the death toll increased 75% over the prior year.


* States have started to press electric and gas utilities to explain how lower corporate tax rates approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump will benefit ratepayers.

* SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. filed a formal request with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw the combined operating licenses for the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear power units 2 and 3 in Fairfield County.

* The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is asking federal regulators to step in to require grid operators in the region to hammer out a new deal so that New Yorkers pay more for the controversial $1.2 billion Bergen-Linden Corridor transmission project.

* Brookfield Renewable Partners LP and its institutional partners completed the acquisition of TerraForm Global Inc. for a total net investment of $750 million. Brookfield Renewable owns a 31% stake in TerraForm Global, which it acquired through a $230 million net investment.

* Despite fierce competition and stagnant demand, Pennsylvania and Ohio could see a combined 8.6 GW of new natural gas-fired capacity go online between now and 2020, as developers continue to take advantage of the nation's booming gas production, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Tampa Electric Co. filed with the Florida Public Service Commission to seek recovery of about $88 million in costs to restore power after Hurricane Irma and several previous storms.

* Public Service Co. of New Mexico has asked state utility regulators to reconsider their rejection of its general rate review settlement agreement, which "continues to have overwhelming support." In its recent decision, the state Public Regulation Commission approved a revenue increase of $62.3 million for the PNM Resources Inc. utility, but refused a return on recovery of the Four Corners coal-fired plant investment and disallowed $36 million for improvements to the San Juan Generating Station.

* Avista Corp. received approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission on the multiparty settlement, a move that concludes the company's electric and natural gas general rate cases filed in June. The PUC approved electric rates increases of $12.9 million, or 5.6%, effective Jan. 1, 2018, and $4.5 million, or 2.3%, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

* Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co. LLC acquired a planned 26-MW solar project in Imperial County, Calif., from Solar Frontier Americas Holdings LLC for an undisclosed sum. Upon anticipated completion in October 2018, the project will sell power to a large California utility through a 20-year, fixed-price power purchase agreement.

Natural gas/Oil

* The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management finalized its reversal of a 2015 rule from the Obama administration that would have put extra controls on oil and gas hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands.

* Administrative Law Judge Ann O'Reilly has issued a ruling that could delay the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's decision on Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Line 3 oil pipeline project to June 2018, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

* SandRidge Energy Inc. and Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. said they have agreed to terminate their merger agreement, under which SandRidge would have purchased Bonanza for $746 million.

* Shell Canada Ltd. is downplaying expectations that it is going to make a final investment decision on the long-delayed delayed LNG Canada project by 2018, saying its timing will be based on market conditions, The Globe and Mail reported.

* Mid-Con Energy Partners sold its Southern Oklahoma oil and natural gas assets to Exponent Energy III LLC for $22 million. The partnership also hired Sagent Advisors LLC to assist it in exploring various financing and strategic alternatives.

* The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection imposed a $433,500 fine on CNX Gas Co. LLC for drilling violations at its well sites in Greene County.

* Empire Petroleum Corp. named Thomas Pritchard, a long-time energy investment banker, as its new CEO. The company also announced that it entered into a letter of intent to acquire oil and gas properties in North Louisiana.


* Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview received a reprieve in its effort to get a coal terminal project approved in Washington state.

* Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week that ended Dec. 23 climbed 6.4% year over year at 89,997 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.


* The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 112-Bcf withdrawal from natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended Dec. 22 that was slightly above consensus estimates and the five-year average, but well below the same week last year.

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New from RRA

* The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission staff filed testimony in Northern Utilities Inc. pending gas rate case on Dec. 20.


"Proper training is a big thing — not just giving a person a piece of paper and saying 'here this is how you turn it on, how you turn a piece of equipment off. Sign here, you're trained,'" said Josh Roberts, administrator of occupational and health and safety for the United Mine Workers of America, on addressing the 75% increase in coal miner fatalities this year.

The day ahead

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher 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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