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California braces for blackouts; coal equities suffered 'brutally tough' May


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California braces for blackouts; coal equities suffered 'brutally tough' May

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California braces for precautionary blackouts as wildfire season begins

As California enters the 2019 wildfire season, some of its most vulnerable residents are voicing concern over utilities' plans to expand the practice of shutting off power to prevent grid infrastructure from sparking the sort of fires that scorched the state in 2017 and 2018.

DC Circuit upholds FERC order but has 'misgivings' on climate review of pipeline

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia upheld Federal Energy Regulatory Commission orders in another case that tested the commission's greenhouse gas analysis in its reviews of applications to build natural gas pipelines, but the court expressed "misgivings" about FERC's "less-than-dogged" efforts to obtain the information on potential climate change impacts.

Coal equities suffered 'brutally tough' May despite stable met pricing

Investors sold off large amounts of equity in some U.S. coal producers in May, resulting in double-digit drops in share prices despite little change in metallurgical coal pricing, according to a recent investor note.

Analysts agree on near-term crude oil price weakness but diverge longer range

Most analysts agree that crude oil prices will remain under pressure in the near-term outlook amid a confluence of geopolitical and fundamental concerns. However, looking further out, a murkier picture offers expectations ranging from lingering price weakness to crude oil priced near $100 per barrel.


"I will just repeat my warning that, given the changes that we're seeing in weather and the changes that we're seeing in fire fuels, nobody who lives in wildfire hazard zones should count on a warning or should count on having reliable electricity," said California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker, on utility plans for precautionary blackouts as the state faces another wildfire season.


* North America's power grid reliability organization expects power supplies will meet peak demand for electricity in most regions this summer but warned that resource inadequacy in Texas, constrained natural gas supplies in Southern California, and heightened wildfire risk in Northern California and elsewhere might lead to the limited use of grid emergency procedures.

* As more climate change lawsuits against powerful institutions are being filed, the likelihood of them proceeding into a trial is growing. These new environmental lawsuits, however, are bringing up novel legal questions, according to Vox. In connection with this, a Justice Department attorney said the youth climate lawsuit is a "direct attack on the separation of powers," warning that allowing such cases to proceed would result to more cases, according to The Associated Press.

* The Nevada Legislature late on June 3 overwhelmingly passed a measure that will make choosing alternative power providers more expensive and difficult for large energy customers.

* DC Solar is being accused of running an $800 million Ponzi-type scheme, Bloomberg News reported. The company lured investors like Berkshire Hathaway Inc. with big federal tax credits.

* The U.S. nonresidential storage market grew 232% year over year in the first-quarter 2019 with a deployment of 148.8 MW, according to a new report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Energy Storage Association.

Natural gas

* LNG export developer NextDecade Corp. pushed back on an effort by the Sierra Club to expand the federal permit review of the company's proposed Rio Grande LNG terminal, calling it "a bare attempt to delay in the eleventh hour the robust four-year regulatory review" by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

* New Jersey environmental officials are set to decide today whether to issue permits for Williams Cos. Inc. nearly $1 billion proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline, according to the AP.

* FERC received new applications for short pipeline projects that would serve gas-fired electric power generation that is displacing coal-fired generation in the U.S. East and Southeast.

* Natural gas flaring and venting in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico reached an all-time high in the first quarter of 2019, averaging as much as 661 MMcf/d, according to research firm Rystad Energy.

* The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fined the industry $5.2 million in 2018, a 31% drop from 2017, Colorado Public Radio reported.


* Mid-Continent and Bakken Shale oil driller Continental Resources Inc.'s stock jumped off its 52-week lows June 4 following the company's announcement that it would start paying its first-ever dividend and buy back $1 billion of its own shares.

* ConocoPhillips received approval from Colorado's Aurora City Council to operate 45 well sites and potentially up to more than 300 wells in the city, the Aurora Sentinel reported.

* Carl Icahn's lawsuit against Occidental Petroleum Corp. may not stop the company from buying Anadarko Petroleum Corp., but analysts believe that it could help him accomplish some other short- and long-term objectives.

* Total SA confirmed that it declared a force majeure on jet fuel production at its Leuna refinery in Germany due to ongoing problems with contaminated crude from Russia, according to Reuters.

* Hurricane Energy PLC produced the first oil at its Lancaster fractured basement field in the U.K.

* Think tank Energy Policy Advocates sued Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to gain access to records of the state's climate change lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp., according to the Boston Herald.


* A coalition of advocacy groups intends to sue the parent companies of 15 coal facilities and a chloride plant in West Virginia for alleged violations of federal clean water and surface mining regulations.

* Cloud Peak Energy Inc. intends to launch a tender offer on June 7, the company disclosed in a June 4 securities filing.


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As the market digests an investment fund's $2.8 billion cash offer for El Paso Electric Co., some are emphasizing a cautious approach to the unique transaction.

New from RRA

* Potomac Electric Power Co. on May 30, filed a three-year electric rate plan with the District of Columbia Public Service Commission. It is the first filing of its kind in the District.

The day ahead

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration petroleum status report is due out today.

* 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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