CMS replacement for Palisades nuke capacity includes Mich. natural gas plant
CMS Energy Corp.'s merchant-owned, natural gas-fired 750-MW Dearborn Industrial Generation plant looms large in the Michigan utility's planned capacity mix to replace capacity from Entergy Corp.'s 820-MW Palisades nuclear power plant, now slated to retire in 2018. Analysts also see the early retirement of Entergy's Indian Point nuclear plant in New York coming next.
Sierra Club asks for new environmental review of $1B PennEast project
The Sierra Club voiced concerns over FERC's draft environmental impact statement of the 1.1-MMDth/d PennEast Pipeline Company LLC natural gas transportation project, saying modifications to the pipeline route may require a closer look. The environmental group's New Jersey Chapter filed a letter with the commission Dec. 5.
Supply-driven coking coal price surge may not sustain itself
Following a meteoric rise in metallurgical coal prices, market observers wonder whether demand growth will step in to sustain high prices beyond a few quarters. The spot metallurgical coal market was seen at about $96/tonne at the beginning of August and surged to $300/tonne by the end of November, while the fourth-quarter 2016 metallurgical coal benchmark more than doubled both year over year and versus the prior quarter to $200/tonne.
* Finding that concerns over zero emissions credits the state of New York is offering to the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant are irrelevant to the matter at hand, FERC on Dec. 7 approved Entergy Corp.'s plan to sell the 837-MW facility to Exelon Corp. for $110 million.
* The Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. board of directors approved a $2.7 billion transmission expansion plan that includes 383 new projects, S&P Global Platts reports. Of the total new projects, 106 projects are needed for baseline reliability and 32 projects for generation interconnection.
* Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated to lead the U.S. EPA as administrator, is in lock-step with the incoming president's plans for an "energy revolution" that includes slashing Obama-era environmental regulations and promoting responsible energy production.
* The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outlined a plan that would allow Power Company of Wyoming's planned 3,000-MW Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind energy project in Carbon County, Wyo., to kill up to 14 golden eagles annually without any penalty, The Associated Press reports. The plan also calls for the removal of unoccupied eagle nests during construction of the first 500 of up to 1,000 turbines. The agency is expected to decide on the plan in January 2017.
* E.ON SE plans to build a 228-MW wind farm in Willacy County, Texas. The Bruenning's Breeze facility is expected to go online at the end of 2017, according to a news release. The project will feature 76 3-MW turbines provided by the German manufacturer Nordex.
* Fishing groups have come out in opposition to a planned offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean between New York and New Jersey. The groups are asking a federal court in Washington, D.C., to stop the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from holding its planned Dec. 15 auction for offshore wind leases, The Associated Press reports. The groups want the federal agency to do a proper analysis before awarding leases in the area.
* Taking advantage of regulatory procedures, PacifiCorp is on the verge of abolishing retail net metering for new rooftop solar customers across Utah on Dec. 10. PacifiCorp proposed to change its net metering tariff so that customers who apply for net metering service after Dec. 9 will take service under a new schedule whenever the state regulator rules on the company's new rate proposals.
* Edison International increased its annual common dividend rate by 13%, to $2.17 per share from $1.92 per share. "We still have additional opportunity to move higher in the range of our targeted payout ratio of 45 to 55 percent of the earnings of [Southern California Edison Co.]," said Edison International President and CEO Pedro Pizarro.
* Xcel Energy Inc. subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Co. filed an unopposed stipulation that resolves issues in its electric rate case pending before the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The stipulation provides for a base rate increase of $35.2 million, power factor revenues of $12.6 million and rate case expenses to be addressed in a separate proceeding of $4 million.
* President-elect Donald Trump was receptive to Leonardo DiCaprio and his foundation's presentation on how investments in sustainable infrastructure can boost the economy, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation CEO Terry Tamminen told The Associated Press. According to Tamminen, Trump suggested another meeting after their discussion centered on creating "millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation."
* The U.S. Department of the Army is seeking public comments on recently completed environmental assessment for development of solar photovoltaic projects on Army installations as well on a draft finding of no significant impact, according to the Federal Register. The projects being evaluated and analyzed would generally range from about 10 MW to 100 MW per site.
* Midstream companies will find it challenging to rein in their escalating leverage as producer customers continue to cut spending, Moody's said in its 2017 industry outlook. "Addressing 'leverage creep' will become difficult amid lack of EBITDA growth," the agency's oil and gas team said in a Dec. 8 note summarizing outlooks for the oil and gas sector in 2017. They gave the midstream industry a stable overall outlook.
* While Energy Transfer Partners LP has been negatively impacted by the Dakota Access Pipeline delay, the state of North Dakota is reportedly seen as the biggest loser from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to not grant an easement for one of the final pieces of the controversial crude oil pipeline project. "Companies are not going to get as good a price for their Bakken barrels. It's a significant impact on their revenues," North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness told The New York Times.
* The Oklahoma Corporation Commission told The Oklahoman that it will soon issue guidelines for energy companies regarding hydraulic fracturing and seismicity amid the recent earthquake activity in the state and its likely connection with wastewater disposal wells.
* The Appalachian shale gas producer Rice Energy Inc. paid more than $3.5 million in fines to settle multiple environmental violations at well pads and pipelines in Washington and Greene counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Dec. 7.
* Swift Energy Co. sold its remaining 25% stake in the Burr Ferry and South Bearhead Creek Fields in central Louisiana to reduce borrowings under its credit facility, according to a news release. The company also has increased its gas hedge position for 2017 and initiated a hedging program for 2018. Specifically for 2018, the company completed approximately 4.4 Bcf of natural gas swaps at an average price of $3.47 for the first quarter of 2018.
* Japan will receive its first U.S. shale gas supply from Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass LNG terminal in January 2017, Jera Co. told Bloomberg News. Jera, a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co., has a short-term deal with Cheniere to receive up to 700,000 tons of LNG from July 2016 to January 2018.
* Donald Trump campaigned heavily in 2016 on bringing back coal companies and coal jobs, but he was not personally invested in a coal comeback: he owned no coal stocks, according to his May financial disclosure form. The president-elect's transition team said Dec. 6 that Trump sold all his stocks in June, but it provided no details.
* Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal filed a lawsuit to undo a moratorium on coal shipping in Oakland, Calif., where it has a contract to build a $250 million shipping terminal, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The company is owned by California Capital and Investment Group, whose CEO Phil Tagami is a longtime friend of California Gov. Jerry Brown.
* The notion that President-elect Donald Trump will not be able to fix the problems faced by coal overlooks the problems that incoming regulations have had on the industry, according to some energy advocates.
* With the domestic thermal coal market finally coming back into balance, relief from low coal prices for U.S. producers is on the horizon. But the prospect of increased volatility also looms. "I think one of the best things to happen to coal companies in the last few years is they ran out of cash," Doyle Trading Consultants CEO Hans Daniels told the audience on Dec. 6 at the 15th annual Coal Trading Conference in Manhattan.
* After ending the prior session up 9.2 cents at $3.695/MMBtu, January 2017 gas extended gains overnight ahead of the Friday, Dec. 9, open amid ongoing weather support, as colder conditions expected to boost heating demand remain dominant in forecasts. The contract was last seen trading 4.0 cents higher at $3.735/MMBtu.
* Price activity for power dailies could be choppy in the week's closing session Friday, Dec. 9, as expectations for mixed but predominantly softer demand coming off the weekend combine with ongoing gains at the natural gas futures arena.
New from RRA
* Public Service Co. of New Mexico Public Service Co. of New Mexico has filed with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for a $99.2 million, or 14.3%, two-step non-fuel electric base rate increase. The requested rate hike, of which roughly half would become effective in 2018 with the remaining portion to be implemented in 2019, is premised upon a 10.125% return on equity.
* The Maine Public Utilities Commission hearing examiner has recommended a $3 million rate increase premised upon a 9% return on equity, or 49% of a hypothetical capital structure, and a 7.45% overall return for Emera Maine.
"The House may want to claim that this bill cannot move forward because we are running out of time," Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a plea to keep a wide-ranging energy bill alive in the final days of Congress. "The reality is that the House is attempting to run us out of time, in order to prevent this bill from moving forward, even though it contains the priorities of dozens of its members."
The day ahead
The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some links may require registration or a subscription. S&P Global Platts and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.