A brief lookback at successes and setbacks in the energy industry.
SOUTHERN — The week kicked off with the announcement of a deal for to acquire a 50% stake inKinder Morgan Inc.'sSouthern Natural Gas Co. LLCpipeline system for $1.47 billion. The move, according to Southern management, will provide thecompany with enhanced access to natural gas. Analysts praised the deal, with Southern to "overweight,"and Goldman Sachs reinstating coverage of the company at "neutral."For Kinder Morgan, the deal provides away to slash debt and improve its balance sheet, with the aim ofrestoring its dividend. On July 15, Mississippi Power Co. announced its IGCC project inKemper County had achieved the major milestone of .
FITZPATRICK — A reprieve from the planned retirement of the nuclearfacility in New York may be possible, with Entergy Corp. saying July 13 it was in talks to sell the plant to Entergy said that the sale of aproposed clean energy standard, which seeks to subsidize renewables as a meansof helping New York meets its goals of cutting carbon dioxide andincreasing renewable generation. "Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo's administration hasmade it clear that FitzPatrick is critical to the success of the governor'szero-emission energy strategy," Exelon spokeswoman Lacey Dean said, addingthat the future of Exelon's threatened R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point nuclear plants could also improve,depending on what subsidies for nuclear ultimately end up in the final cleanenergy standard.
ENERGY BILL — The U.S. Senate voted July 12 to send the chamber's sprawling energybill to a conference with House lawmakers, marking another major step forward forthe legislation. Senate Energy andNatural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said this marksthe first time Congress will go to conference on major energy legislation inmore than a decade. Senate Energy and Natural Resources CommitteeRanking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., indicated that House lawmakers are opento dropping divisive parts of the bill. "They said they didn't want towaste time on things that are going to be vetoed by the president of the UnitedStates," Cantwell said. "We took that as a good sign that they werewilling to sit down and talk about legislation that could move forward in apositive fashion."
MIKE PENCE — Presumptive Republican presidential nomineeDonald Trump on July 15 announced hisrunning mate is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. The 2016 RepublicanNational Committee's convention kicks off July 18.
PLAINS ALL AMERICAN — PlainsAll American Pipeline LP announced a aimedat simplifying its ownership and governance structure, by issuing shares to anaffiliate of general partner PlainsGP Holdings LP in exchange for eliminating incentive distributionrights and other rights Plains GP holds. "Collectively, these actions will simplify PAA's capitalstructure, better align the interests of its equity stakeholders, improve itsoverall credit profile, reduce its cost of incremental capital and improve itsdistribution coverage," Greg Armstrong, Plains All American Chairman andCEO, said. Plains All American also announced a 21% distribution cut.The simplification deal does notappear to be sufficient to calm Wall Street concerns over thepartnership's leverage and earnings growth targets, particularly in that itwill increase Plains All American's long term debt by more than $600 million. "Howmuch of the excess cash flow [from the distribution cut] will be used to paydown the debt they just incurred? How does that stack up in 2017 … against thecrude price environment? We have to balance the simplification against thatkind of backdrop," S&P Global Ratings Director Michael Grande said.
NEXTERA—The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission on July 15 's proposal toacquire Hawaiian ElectricIndustries Inc. in a $4.3 billion deal. The PUC said the companies failed to show the deal is in the publicinterest, describing proposed ratepayer benefits as inadequate and adding thatthe companies did not offer "sufficient protection" to the HECOcompanies or its customers. NextEra said July 18 it with HECO,agreeing to pay a $90 million break-up fee and reimburse up to $5 million forexpenses related to the transaction.
CLEAN LINE — Missouri regulators again byClean Line Energy Partnersto build its 780-mile Grain Belt Express Clean Line across the state. The Missouri Public Service Commission onJuly 12 said the private developer did not file the 60-day notice required forsuch a case. Clean Line had said it did not think the rule applied toit, since it was not a regulated entity, but the PSC said the notice must befiled because of the contentious nature of the case. The commission concludedClean Line needs to resubmit its notice and application.
SEMPRA—The California Public Utilities Commission on July 14 rejected a $621 million gas pipelineexpansion project proposal by the utility subsidiaries of . "The leak at Aliso Canyon underscoresa fundamental weakness of the application, namely, that construction of theNorth-South pipeline would bring no additional gas into southern California butmerely provide a means for reallocation of existing supply," the decisionsaid.
ATLASRESOURCE PARTNERS — Atlas Resource PartnersLP confirmed July 12 that itwas being delisted from the NYSE, marking another setback for anupstream master limited partnership sinking in debt and losing investorconfidence. The day before, Atlas struck a forbearance deal with lenders andsenior note holders, deferring payments to help remedy a $143.7 millionborrowing base deficiency. Atlasreported $673.7 million in debt under its revolving credit agreement as of June14 and only $32 million of cash on hand July 11. Its parent, , had beendelisted in March.