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New York vows to sue over CPP repeal; shale permitting explodes in Pennsylvania

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


New York vows to sue over CPP repeal; shale permitting explodes in Pennsylvania

Top News

Pruitt to sign Clean Power Plan repeal; New York threatens to sue

In a move that prompted a standing ovation at an event in Hazard, Ky., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he will sign a proposed rulemaking to withdraw the Clean Power Plan on Oct. 10.

Shale permitting explodes in southwest Pennsylvania as pipelines come online

Shale gas, liquids and Pittsburgh are the new common denominators for where Appalachian drillers will spud their next wells, judging by September permitting data pulled Oct. 9. Shale gas drilling permitting in the southwestern corner of the state, including Pittsburgh's Allegheny County, exploded compared to September 2016, with Washington County alone accounting for 100 shale permits, compared to 20 a year ago.

DOE resiliency proposal narrow, but may boost key Trump coal supporters

The latest pro-coal policy move by the Trump administration has riled energy market players but could benefit key supporters of the presidency. U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a rule that would ensure costs are covered for "fuel-secure" power plants.

Power

* Lawmakers are furious and SCANA Corp. investors are worried, but there remains a sliver of hope in South Carolina amid the fallout from the V.C. Summer abandonment. SCANA utility South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and project partner Santee Cooper, known legally as South Carolina Public Service Authority, announced July 31 that they had decided to halt construction of two new 1,117-MW reactors in Fairfield County.

* Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and CKD Infraestructura México announced a $1.35 billion deal to acquire an 80% stake in a 1,712-MW portfolio of renewable projects, including five wind and three solar projects, from Enel Green Power. Of the total generating capacity, 429 MW is operational and 1,283 MW is under construction. At closing, Enel will operate and retain 20% of the portfolio, according to a news release.

* The Trump administration said it does not intend to pick winners and losers in the generation mix, but U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt does believe that utilities and power companies need to plan for resiliency and fuel diversity — and that means ensuring an adequate supply of coal-fired generation.

* The wind-driven wildfires in the North Bay left about 100,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. electric customers and about 30,000 natural gas customers without service as of mid-day on Oct. 9, according to a news release. The PG&E Corp. utility said it is working to restore services to the affected customers.

* AES Corp. sustained somes damages to its 524-MW AES Puerto Rico coal-fired plant and its 24-MW Illumina solar facility in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. The company reported material damages to its 5-MW USVI Solar I project in Virgin Islands. As a result, AES said it expects full-year 2017 adjusted EPS to be in the lower half of the $1.00 to $1.10 range, according to a news release.

* As part of California's bid to slash its greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, en route to an 80% reduction by mid-century, the California ISO has laid out an "an exit strategy and phase-out timeline" for natural gas generation amid a sweeping transition to "decarbonize, decentralize [and] regionalize" the state's electric grid and the nation's biggest state economy.

Natural gas/midstream

* Opposition to the U.S. Department of Energy's request that FERC write a new rule compensating baseload power generators, primarily coal and nuclear plants, for their "reliability and resilience" now includes some strange bedfellows: Environmental groups joined oil and natural gas interests in comments to regulators.

* OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo is calling on North American shale oil producers to help support plans to curb global oil supply in order to stabilize the market, Reuters reports.

* Energy equity analysts see a lot of potential in a pair of growing Permian Basin players with ominous names that have been outperforming competitors: Diamondback Energy Inc. and its master limited partnership, Viper Energy Partners LP.

* The government of Alberta is likely to make its legal case in front of the Federal Court of Appeal on Oct. 13 in favor of Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Trans Mountain expansion project, after TransCanada Corp. terminated its plans to build estimated C$15.7 billion conduit linking Alberta's oil sands region with a marine terminal in New Brunswick, the Eastern Mainline project, The Canadian Press reported. "[T]he cancellation of Energy East makes TMX expansion even more important as it is now the only potential pipe that could offer Canadian producers new markets beyond the U.S," Jackie Forrest, director of research at the ARC Energy Research Institute, was quoted as saying.

* Phillips 66 Partners LP closed its acquisition of an indirect 25% stake in each of Dakota Access LLC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. LLC, and a direct 100% interest in Merey Sweeny LP, according to a SEC filing. Phillips 66 Partners acquired the assets from Phillips 66 in a deal valued at $2.4 billion.

* Targa Resources Partners LP and its Targa Resources Partners Finance Corp. subsidiary intend to sell $750 million of senior unsecured notes due 2028 to qualified institutional buyers in the U.S., according to a news release. The sale proceeds will be used to redeem the partnership's 5% senior notes due 2018, reduce borrowings under its credit facilities, and for general partnership purposes.

* Reliance Industries Ltd. unit Reliance Marcellus II LLC agreed to sell all of its stake in certain upstream assets in Susquehanna, Wyoming and Clearfield counties, Pa., to BKV Chelsea LLC for $126 million, according to a news release. Reliance could receive contingent payments of up to $11.3 million in aggregate based on natural gas prices exceeding certain thresholds over the next three years. BKV Chelsea is an affiliate of Kalnin Ventures LLC.

Coal

* Environmental lawyers fear that a recent decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court could deter lawsuits from people affected by mining operations. The state's highest court overturned a lower court ruling that ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, to require Eastern Associated Coal LLC to provide emergency water for the two dozen families living downstream of Clear Fork Creek whose well water was contaminated, allegedly by a coal slurry impoundment at Eastern's Kopperston No. 4 Mine.

* Duke Energy Corp. has released the "critical dam safety information" for 10 coal ash sites across North Carolina after the Southern Environmental Law Center sent legal notices to the company, according to a news release. These leaking sites hold a total of more than 92 million tons of coal ash upstream of public drinking water intakes and numerous are located near homes and communities.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a plan for the Salt River Project to curtail a unit at its coal-fired Coronado power plant a few months each year to comply with regional haze requirements.

Commodities

* As the fall refueling season approaches its peak, total U.S. nuclear plant availability dropped early Oct. 9 following the loss of five reactors since Oct. 6. Exelon Corp.'s Limerick 2 in Pennsylvania was shut from full power for undisclosed reasons while four other units were shut for refueling.

* Most power dailies could notch losses Tuesday, Oct. 10, as outlooks for generally diminished demand at midweek combine with recent seesaw activity in natural gas futures.

* After ending the week's opening session 3.0 cents lower at $2.833/MMBtu, NYMEX November natural gas futures recovered most of the losses overnight ahead of the Tuesday, Oct. 10, session.

* Power prices for November were biased higher during the week ended Oct. 6 despite a combination of slack demand implied by mid-range weather forecasts and lower fueling costs implied by losses in natural gas futures.

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New from RRA

* Settlement discussions are ongoing in Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.'s pending electric and gas rate cases (Case Nos. 17-E-0238 and 17-G-0239) before the New York Public Service Commission. As such, evidentiary hearings in those cases have been postponed to accommodate settlement discussions.

* In testimony filed Oct. 4, the Arkansas Public Service Commission staff apparently recommends that Entergy Arkansas Inc., or EA, be authorized a $126.2 million electric base rate increase in the context of the PSC's annual review of the company's formula rate plan, or FRP, in Docket No. 16-036-FR.

* Dominion Energy Inc. subsidiary Virginia Electric and Power Co., or VEPCO, has filed for incremental revenue requirements under two limited issue riders, Rider US-2 and Rider BW. VEPCO seeks a $5.1 million revenue requirement increase under Rider US-2, which pertains to three utility-scale solar photovoltaic generation facilities: the 17-MW Scott Solar Facility, 20-MW Whitehouse Solar Project and 19-MW Woodland Solar Center.

Quoted

"The Clean Power Plan was not about regulating to make things regular. It was really about regulating to pick winners and losers," said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, speaking at an event in Hazard, Ky., where he announced that he will sign a proposed rulemaking to withdraw the Clean Power Plan.

The day ahead

* Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Commerce and Cheniere Energy Inc. will participate today in an Atlantic Council discussion about the role of energy exports between U.S. and China.

* 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.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some links may require registration or a subscription.