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Legal holes seen in new carbon rule; manufacturers race to cut solar costs

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


Legal holes seen in new carbon rule; manufacturers race to cut solar costs

Top News

Environmental attorneys see legal holes in US EPA's new carbon rule

The Trump administration's proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan for regulating electricity sector carbon emissions could extend the lives of some aging coal-fired generating plants. But a brewing legal clash over competing interpretations of the Clean Air Act ultimately could decide whether the Obama-era regulation is left intact.

California's zero-carbon grid bid could supercharge energy storage

For California to completely decarbonize its power system by 2045, as prescribed in the landmark bill recently passed by the state legislature, much more than Gov. Jerry Brown's signature will be required. Among the prerequisites is a massively expanded energy storage industry, placing energy storage among the bill's biggest potential beneficiaries.

Manufacturers race to slash solar costs amid China market turmoil

Beijing's decision to cut solar subsidies is ratcheting up pressure on China's manufacturers, setting in motion a consolidation that Chinese companies said will ultimately lay the groundwork for a global industry that is cost competitive without government incentives.

On eve of full service, Nexus gas pipeline developers already plotting expansion

Enbridge Inc. and DTE Energy Co. are still looking for final customer commitments for their 1.5-Bcf/d Nexus natural gas pipeline across Ohio, but they are already planning expansions.

Institutions' wariness of US oil driller stocks went beyond Permian Basin in Q2

Institutional investors sold more shares than they bought of the leading U.S. shale oil drillers that operate mostly outside the red-hot Permian Basin in the second quarter, even as the market value of Bakken, Oklahoma and Rockies producers jumped higher.

Quoted

"Rather than applying its standard procedure for handling CWA section 401 applications, Director Bellon instructed Ecology staff to depart from decades of agency practice and to treat Millennium's certification application in a uniquely unfavorable and punitive manner," said a lawsuit filed in superior court against Washington state's director of ecology and her department by Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview LLC, alleging the state was biased in its denial of a water quality permit required for the coal export terminal project.

Power

* Coal producers delivered 51.4 million tons of coal, 6.6% of the coal mined in the U.S. in 2017, to power plants scheduled to retire in the next 10 years as a secular decline in domestic demand continues to erode the size of the U.S. coal market.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's plan to revisit an Obama-era regulation that restricts mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants could de-emphasize life and health benefits in calculating related financial costs, The New York Times reported.

* A proposed long-term blueprint aimed at re-establishing America's global leadership in nuclear energy was introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators led by Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Cory Booker, D-N.J.

* Former Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, who had served during the term of President George W. Bush, has passed away.

* Nearly 1,600 workers, including at least 260 scientists and 185 "environmental protection specialists," have left the EPA in the first 18 months of the Trump administration, The Washington Post reported.

* Saving energy creates more new U.S. jobs than generating it, according to a new report that identifies energy efficiency as the largest and fastest-growing segment of the energy sector.

* The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission rejected the proposed route of the $2 billion SunZia transmission project, saying it lacks details to determine the environmental impact on communities, according to The Associated Press.

Natural gas

* Venture Global LNG reached a long-term agreement to supply the Spanish energy company Repsol SA with liquefied natural gas from its proposed Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal in Louisiana, adding to a series of deal announcements by the developer in recent months as it targets starting construction on the facility in early 2019.

* New Jersey Resources Corp. has bought the first shale gas with a "responsible" branding from Southwestern Energy Co.-operated wells as part of its sustainability efforts, the Financial Times reported.

* Williams Cos. Inc.'s Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC moved the full in-service timeline for its 1.7-Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion back a week, now targeting the week of Sept. 17.

* Pennsylvania consumers have saved more than $30.5 billion between 2006 and 2016 from lower natural gas prices, according to a report from the Consumer Energy Alliance.

* Iran plans to refund TOTAL SA for its investments in South Pars natural gas field but only when phase 11 of project becomes operational, Reuters reported, citing Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. The French company withdrew from the project after failing to secure a waiver from U.S. sanctions.

* Environmentalists are calling on the Kansas legislature to be involved in a dispute with the state Corporation Commission over the revocation of permits for more than 2,100 injection wells, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

* Draft restrictions implemented over a displaced pipeline stalled eight vessels at the Sabine Pass Channel, according to Reuters.

Oil

* An international tribunal overturned a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgement against Chevron Corp. related to the environmental remediation of a former concession area in the country, the U.S. oil major announced Sept. 7.

* Pipeline constraints in the Permian Basin are coming faster than expected, Houston Chronicle reported, citing a Wells Fargo investor note.

* Buckeye Pipe Line Co. LP shut a pipeline after it spilled more than 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into the St. Marys River in Decatur, Ind., the AP reported.

* Canadian oil producer Cenovus Energy Inc. reached a deal to transport more crude with the Canadian National Railway Co., Reuters reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

* An administrative law judge has been enlisted to review a complaint over the $800 million Davis Refinery near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, according to the AP.

* A venture between Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is seeking commitments from banks for a $9.7 billion, 15-year loan, according to Reuters.

Coal

* Colorado coal production declined by 13.5% year over year in the first half of 2018, from 8.2 million tons to 7.1 million, continuing a downward production trend in the state despite a brief uptick in 2017.

* S&P Global Ratings withdrew all of its ratings on Englewood, Colo.-based coal producer Westmoreland Coal Co. and its issuing subsidiary Oxford Mining Co. LLC at the issuer's request.

ChartWatch

A nearly sectorwide upswing in financial results and news of a major corporate consolidation were not enough to keep money from moving out of the oil and gas pipeline industry's largest exchange-traded fund during August.

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New from RRA

A partial settlement filed Aug. 28 by the parties to PECO Energy Co.'s pending electric distribution base rate case calls for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to authorize the company a $24.9 million, or 2%, base rate increase.

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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Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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