US withdrawal from trade deal cuts off avenue for quick approval of LNG exports
President Donald Trump's executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership means LNG export hopefuls will remain without an expedited approval process for exports to countries like Japan, a key outlet for the fuel in a glutted global market.
Going Down Under, NY PSC chair leaving to head Australian grid operator
New York State Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman will exit as the state's top utility regulator to head the Australian Energy Market Operator, departing the post at a time when she is named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit against nuclear credits approved under her leadership.
Ramaco expects to raise up to $103.5M from IPO
Coal asset-owner Ramaco Resources Inc. on Jan. 23 commenced an IPO of 6 million common shares at between $12 and $15 each, according to a company statement. The company describes itself as a developer of "high-quality, low-cost" metallurgical coal in central and southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.
* A federal judge sided with the U.S. EPA in finding Union Electric Co. d/b/a Ameren Missouri in violation of the Clean Air Act for modifying its coal-fired Rush Island power plant without the necessary permits and causing increased emissions.
* TerraForm Power Inc. and TerraForm Global Inc., holding companies affiliated with bankrupt renewable energy developer SunEdison Inc., are negotiating exclusively with Brookfield Asset Management Inc. over a potential acquisition, according to regulatory filings.
* The U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of 11 Energy and Commerce Committee bills, including a measure that would amend the Federal Power Act to provide opportunities for rehearing for orders affecting rates, and a bill that would require the U.S. NRC to create a regulatory framework for safe, advanced nuclear energy technologies.
* Macquarie Capital analysts downgraded Alliant Energy Corp. and SCANA Corp. to "neutral" from "outperform."
* FERC on Jan. 19 upheld much of an administrative law judge's September 2015 initial decision finding that millions of dollars in costs the developers of the abandoned Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline project sought to recover from ratepayers are unrecoverable.
* A proposed bill in Wyoming would require electric utilities to procure a minimum of 95% of their electricity sales in the state from any of the following generating resources: coal, hydroelectric, natural gas, net metering system, nuclear and oil by 2018. The requirement would increase to 100% in 2019. In case a utility fails to comply with the standards, it would be required to pay an administrative penalty, assessed by the state Public Service Commission, of $10/MWh of energy credits.
* Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey unveiled her initial legislative agenda for the 2017/2018 session, including legislation that would strengthen her office's role as the ratepayer advocate for electric and gas customers in the state. The bill will clarify that the attorney general has the authority to intervene and retain experts in all electricity and gas cases before the state Department of Public Utilities on behalf of ratepayers, particularly with respect to proceedings concerning competitive electric suppliers.
* The Geothermal Energy Association presented a paper to President Donald Trump's transition team in hopes that the new administration will recognize the benefits of geothermal energy. "Their leadership in addressing some of the daunting obstacles facing geothermal development could mean positive change for the industry," said GEA executive director Karl Gawell in a statement.
* During his confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin voiced his support for the scheduled phaseout of the wind energy production tax credit in 2020 as part of any tax reform proposal, according to the American Wind Energy Association's blog.
* Targa Resources Corp. found a "needle in the haystack," its CEO said, in a deal for up to $1.5 billion its affiliate struck to buy Outrigger Delaware Operating LLC, a midstream company active in two of the fastest-growing unconventional plays in the world.
* U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson delayed his final sentencing decision in Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s San Bruno, Calif., natural gas pipeline explosion case until this Thursday, saying he needed more time to review comments from attorneys of the government and the company, The Associated Press reports.
* The Delaware Supreme Court revived an investor lawsuit against Energy Transfer Partners LP that is tied to its acquisition of Regency Energy Partners LP in 2015, according to Reuters. The suit alleges that ETP and its parent Energy Transfer Equity LP failed to adequately inform Regency investors when they approved the merger.
* BP plc has begun its Thunder Horse South expansion project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico ahead of schedule and under budget, according to a news release. The project is expected to boost production at the facility by an estimated 50,000 gross barrels of oil equivalent per day. It marks the first of several major upstream startups expected by BP before the end of 2017.
* Methane emissions in the San Francisco area may be much higher than expected, but natural gas is not the only, or even the primary, contributor, research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory determined.
* Environmental groups are objecting to the way Peabody Energy Corp. is outlining how it will deal with various bonding obligations as the company continues to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In their objections, the groups alleged that Peabody did not adequately convey what it intends to do about hundreds of millions of reclamation and bonding obligations.
* Rio Tinto struck a deal to sell its Australian subsidiary Coal & Allied Industries Ltd. to Yancoal Australia Ltd. for up to US$2.45 billion, the companies said Jan. 24. The amount comprises an initial US$1.95 billion in cash payable at completion and US$500 million in deferred cash payments payable over five years after the deal closes.
* A former manager of a West Virginia water testing laboratory was sentenced to two years in jail for his role in falsifying test results from coal mining operations. John Brewer pleaded guilty in October 2016 to one count of violating the federal Clean Water Act by falsifying the dates on water samples collected by Appalachian Laboratories Inc.
* Three environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, are pushing Rocky Mountain Power to relocate a landfill that spilled coal ash into the Price River, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Earlier this month, the company agreed to pay a $13,000 fine for the floodwater-caused coal ash release into the river. Rocky Mountain Power is legally known as PacifiCorp.
* A volatile but slightly higher price trend in crude oil and natural gas in the week ended Jan. 17 saw bullish participation by smart money traders in crude oil, but short-covering was dominant in natural gas. The latest "Commitments of Traders" report published by the CFTC on Jan. 20 revealed that managed money traders in crude oil added 65,055 contracts to their net long to reach a record of 343,415 lots.
* Moderating weather and a decline in fueling costs due to losses in natural gas futures pushed most forward power markets lower during the week ended Jan. 20. Action during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday-truncated workweek kicked off Jan. 17 with the front-month February natural gas futures contract revisiting the downside, slipping by a scant 0.7 cent to settle at $3.412/MMBtu.
* Following a 3.9-cent advance in the week's opening session to settle at $3.243/MMBtu, February natural gas futures notched additional gains overnight ahead of the Tuesday, Jan. 24, open, amid technical buying with limited fundamental support. The contract held in positive territory through the overnight session trading between $3.267/MMBtu and $3.327/MMBtu, while trading last 6.4 cents higher at $3.307/MMBtu.
* Next-day power prices could diverge Tuesday, Jan. 24, as predominantly softer demand forecasts for midweek run counter to ongoing gains at the natural gas futures arena. Rising almost 4 cents in the previous session, front-month February natural gas futures were up another 6.5 cents overnight to $3.308/MMBtu early Tuesday amid ongoing short covering.
New from RRA
* In a Rate Case Final Report dated Jan. 23, Regulatory Research Associates discusses the key aspects of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's Nov. 10, 2016, rate case decision authorizing American Electric Power Co. Inc. subsidiary Public Service Co. of Oklahoma a $14.5 million permanent electric rate increase, on a companywide basis, premised upon a 9.5% ROE.
"Longview represents a great opportunity for Mon Power and the ratepayers in West Virginia because it's a new, modern, clean coal plant and it's got [the] lowest costs of any coal plant in PJM," Longview Power LLC President and CEO Jeffrey Keffer said, explaining that the coal-fired power plant has prequalified for Monongahela Power Co.'s request for proposals for additional capacity to serve its West Virginia customers.
The day ahead
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