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May 29-June 2: Trump says US will leave Paris deal; several coal plants close


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May 29-June 2: Trump says US will leave Paris deal; several coal plants close

A brief look back at successes and setbacks in the energy industry.


GREAT PLAINS/WESTARGreat Plains Energy Inc. and Westar Energy Inc. agreed to extend the completion date of their merger by six months to Nov. 30 from May 31. Great Plains elected to delay the merger completion and Westar agreed, seeking more time "to determine if a mutually agreeable revised transaction might be negotiated," according to separate filings with the SEC. The Kansas Corporation Commission on May 23 rejected a joint petition for reconsideration of the proposed merger. The utilities sought extra time to consider renegotiating the $8.6 billion cash-and-stock deal to address regulators' concerns.

EVERSOURCE — Eversource Energy on June 2 announced that it agreed to acquire the Aquarion Water Co. utilities in a deal valued at about $1.68 billion. Eversource will pay about $880 million in cash and assume $795 million in debt to acquire all outstanding equity interests of Macquarie Utilities Inc. Macquarie Utilities owns Aquarion Water of Connecticut, Aquarion Water of Massachusetts and Aquarion Water of New Hampshire.

DAKOTA ACCESS — Energy Transfer Partners LP announced June 1 that the Dakota Access oil pipeline began commercial service along with the accompanying Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline. The 1,872-mile Bakken Pipeline system delivers crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to a storage and terminal hub near Patoka, Ill., and certain terminals near the Gulf Coast.


PARIS PACT — President Donald Trump confirmed June 1 that the U.S. will withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, which he called a "bad deal for Americans." Trump added that he is willing to renegotiate the country's commitments to the pact or seek a "new deal." Coal producers, such as Murray Energy Corp., applauded the move but the industry overall has been split on the Paris deal, especially when it comes to promoting carbon capture technology. Natural gas producers were largely silent on whether the U.S. should leave the accord. A diverse coalition of companies, including oil producer Exxon Mobil Corp., advocated remaining in the agreement.


KEMPERIn what has become a routine announcement, Mississippi Power Co. once again missed the in-service date for its Plant Ratcliffe integrated coal gasification combined-cycle units in Kemper County, Miss. The Southern Co. subsidiary previously said the $7.3 billion project would be placed in service by the end of May, but in a May 31 news release Mississippi Power said the facility "is not currently fully operational." Jefferies LLC analyst Anthony Crowdell has floated the idea of Mississippi Power abandoning the conversion of the units, which have been firing on natural gas since August 2014. "Jefferies believes we are getting close to the 'fish or cut bait' time," Crowdell wrote.

PLANT CLOSURES — Nearly 2,800 MW of coal capacity shut down on June 1. Dynegy Inc. closed its coal- and oil-fired Brayton Point units in Somerset, Mass., representing about 1,528 MW of capacity. Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. followed suit with the permanent retirement of its 620-MW Hudson 2 plant in Jersey City, N.J., and 632-MW Mercer plant in Trenton, N.J. In addition, Great Plains Energy Inc. utility Kansas City Power & Light Co. announced June 1 that it will retire five coal units by the end of 2018 and a 97-MW Lake Road gas unit by the end of 2019. The company said it will stop burning coal at units 2 and 3 of the Montrose plant in Henry County, Mo., and shut down all three units of the Sibley plant in Jackson County, Mo.

TRANS MOUNTAIN — British Columbia's socialist Green Party and the left-leaning New Democratic Party have joined forces in an attempt to halt the expansion of Kinder Morgan Inc.'s C$7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline project. The two parties reached an agreement to form a minority government on May 29 after the British Columbia election on May 9 gave the Green Party the power to swing decisions in the divided provincial legislature. They singled out the Kinder Morgan project in their collaboration agreement, which calls for the government to "immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion."