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Senate votes to restore FERC quorum; CenterPoint to pursue sale of Enable stake


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Senate votes to restore FERC quorum; CenterPoint to pursue sale of Enable stake

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Senate votes to restore FERC quorum by confirming Chatterjee, Powelson

Six months after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lost the ability to rule on major energy infrastructure orders, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson and restore a working quorum at the agency.

CenterPoint Energy tables spinoff option for Enable, is focused on outright sale

CenterPoint Energy Inc. plans to exit its stake in Enable Midstream Partners LP through an outright sale, rather than pursuing a spinoff of the oil and gas infrastructure partnership. If a sale cannot be achieved, CenterPoint will sell down its stake in Enable through the public equity markets.

Westmoreland lowers 2017 guidance, announces sale of ROVA plant

Westmoreland Coal Co. lowered its 2017 guidance due to challenging conditions, according to company executives. "Last quarter we still firmly believed we could achieve the lower half of our full year guidance. This half, we no longer see a path to get there," said Kevin Paprzycki, Westmoreland's CEO, on an Aug. 3 earnings call.


* SCANA Corp. is seeking to write off a $1.5 billion tax deduction as it abandons plans to build two new reactors at the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant outside of Columbia, S.C. SCANA also reaffirmed its 2017 GAAP-adjusted weather-normalized EPS guidance of $4.15 to $4.35, with an internal target of $4.25.

* In the absence of federal climate legislation, California's recent move to extend the state's cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions could prove to be a model for other states and regions in their efforts to reduce emissions.

* The Interior Department's Office of the Inspector General launched a "preliminary investigation" into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's phone calls to Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan ahead of last week's vote on the GOP healthcare bill, the Washington Examiner reported. Zinke reportedly threatened Murkowski and Sullivan "with repercussion" for their state if they vote against the bill.

* In the wake of news that SCANA and its project partner decided to abandon the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion, Duke Energy Corp. continues to weigh the prospects for its proposed reactors, but a decision could be months away.

* Alliant Energy Corp. unveiled its plans to add up to 500 MW of wind energy in Iowa, which, when combined with previously approved expansions, would represent a $1.8 billion investment and add up to 1,000 MW of new wind capacity in the state.

* Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. intends to file a rate case with the state regulators in the fourth quarter to recover approximately $390 million the OGE Energy Corp. subsidiary invested in modernizing its 380-MW Mustang facility, OGE Energy CFO Stephen Merrill said during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

* WPPI Energy signed a long-term contract to purchase electricity from Invenergy LLC's planned 132-MW Bishop Hill III wind project in Henry County, Ill. The project is scheduled to enter commercial operation by mid-2018, according to a news release.

* The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Presidents Donald Trump's five nominees for senior positions in the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Energy, The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported. The nominees include Mark Menezes as undersecretary at the DOE and Paul Dabbar as the DOE's undersecretary for science.

Natural gas/midstream

* Citing "strong investor demand," Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. upsized its preferred offering to 12 million series 1 cumulative redeemable minimum rate reset preferred shares for gross proceeds of C$300 million. Net proceeds will be used to fund Trans Mountain Expansion project and Base Line terminal project, as well as future growth opportunities, to repay debt and for general corporate purposes, according to a news release.

* The natural gas industry would like to maintain the status quo of voluntarily reporting trades to support gas price indexes, but the electric power industry is lobbying the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for changes.

* The worsening economics of TransCanada Corp.'s controversial Keystone XL pipeline project due to low oil prices and high production costs "could kill" the long-delayed project, The Associated Press reported. The news comes as Nebraska regulators will begin hearings on the project Aug. 7.

* Chesapeake Energy Corp. disclosed in a SEC filing that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have both closed their investigations into possible violations of federal and state antitrust laws relating to its purchase and lease of oil and natural gas rights in various states.

* A Mexican subsidiary of Sempra Energy signed long-term contracts with a unit of Valero Energy Corp. for the storage capacity of the liquid fuels marine terminal to be constructed in Veracruz and two inland storage facilities to be constructed in Puebla and Mexico City. The projects represent an estimated capital investment of $275 million and are Infraestructura Energética Nova SAB de CV's first ventures in Mexico's emerging $10 billion liquids market.

* Chesapeake Utilities Corp. subsidiary Peninsula Energy Services Co. acquired the assets of ARM Energy Management, a natural gas marketing company servicing commercial and industrial customers in Western Pennsylvania. "The acquired assets complement PESCO's current portfolio and will expand the company's retail demand in a market where it has existing pipeline capacity and wholesale liquidity," the company said in a statement.


* Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended July 29 saw a 2.4% year-over-year increase to 92,430 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads. Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended July 29 saw a 2.4% year-over-year increase to 92,430 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

* Warrior Met Coal Inc. reported net income of $129.9 million in the second quarter, with adjusted EBITDA of $188.5 million. The company's net income per diluted share was $2.46 during the quarter, beating the S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate of $1.95.


* The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 20-Bcf injection into natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended July 28 that was below market expectations and mixed against averages.

* After ending the prior session down 1.1 cents at $2.800/MMBtu, NYMEX September natural gas futures extended losses overnight ahead of the Friday, Aug. 4, open, as traders looked beyond the latest modest storage build toward a potential ramp up in the pace of inventory rebuilding amid lackluster weather-related demand in the weeks ahead.

* Day-ahead power prices could retreat in the week's closing session Friday, Aug. 4, as the anticipation of generally weaker demand coming off the weekend conspires with ongoing losses in natural gas futures trading.

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New from RRA

* The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority initiated a joint proceeding Aug. 2 in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, that requires an assessment of the Millstone nuclear facility, which is owned by Dominion Energy Inc.

* In a May 3 rate decision in Case No. ER-2016-0285 for Great Plains Energy Inc. subsidiary Kansas City Power & Light Co., the Missouri Public Service Commission authorized the company a $32.5 million electric base rate increase premised upon a 9.5% return on equity.

* On July 31, the parties to CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp. pending formula rate plan proceeding (Docket No. 17-010-FR) filed a settlement calling for a $7.6 million (4.17%) gas distribution base rate increase, effective Oct. 2, premised upon a 9.5% return on equity (31.02% of a regulatory capital structure) and a 4.5831% return on a year-end rate base valued at $699 million for a test year ending Sept. 30, 2018.


"Regarding new nuclear, there are challenges there. We understand those challenges," said Duke Energy Executive Vice President and CFO Steven Young, responding to questions about Duke's proposed new reactors in Florida and South Carolina.

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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