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New analysis method boosts CPP costs; Trump stacking roster with coal players

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 analysis method boosts CPP costs; Trump stacking roster with coal players

Top News

EPA accused of 'cooking the books' to drive up Clean Power Plan costs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made three seemingly simple changes in its cost-benefit analysis of the Clean Power Plan that boosted the cost of compliance with the rule by tens of billions of dollars.

Cheniere swaps in midscale project to boost size of Corpus Christi expansion

Cheniere Energy Inc. decided to replace a proposed two-train expansion at its LNG export terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas, with seven smaller trains from a midscale project that the company unveiled as a possibility in November 2016.

Trump stacking roster with coal players after promising to revive sector

As President Donald Trump has worked a playbook for fulfilling a campaign promise to bring back coal, he has stocked his administration with a roster of players familiar with the industry.

Power

* As many of Wall Street's biggest banks commit to buying 100% renewable energy to power their global operations, their decision to invest in renewables internally may be guided by a strategy aimed at accommodating the demands of the sector longer-term.

* Despite the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan, power companies like American Electric Power Co. Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Southern Co. will maintain their strategy of pursuing investments in renewable and gas-fired electricity, The Wall Street Journal reported. "Clearly our shareholders and customers expect a clean-energy economy," AEP CEO Nick Akins told the newspaper, describing how the markets and not federal policy influenced their decision.

* Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, remains committed in achieving targets established under the Clean Power Plan, which was described as "critical to ensuring the commonwealth remains a national leader in securing a clean energy future," The Associated Press reported.

* Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey plans to sue the Trump administration "to protect the Clean Power Plan from the climate change deniers in this administration who are trying to move us backwards," MassLive reported. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen also released a statement that he will join colleagues in other states in defending the Clean Power Plan.

* Public Service Co. of New Mexico will proceed with planned coal-fired plant retirements to decrease its coal reliance to at least 12% by 2025, regardless of changes to the Clean Power Plan, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

* Suniva Inc. is scrambling to secure more money from its bankruptcy lenders heading into the final phase of a bitter trade fight that is expected to decide the fate of the solar panel manufacturer and could reshape the entire U.S. industry.

* Asset manager BlackRock Inc. hired Brian Deese, a former aide to President Barack Obama who was responsible for leading environmental initiatives, as its head of sustainable investing, Bloomberg News reported, citing a staff memo.

* Southern California Edison Co. said it will actively participate in the process established by the California Public Utilities Commission on potential changes to the 2014 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station closure settlement.

* Dominion Energy Inc. has identified and stopped a hydrogen leak at unit 3 of its Millstone nuclear power plant in New London County, Conn., according to The Day.

* Wind power generation over open oceans could possibly exceed power generation on land by a factor of three or more, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

* The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality approved Dominion Energy's application to construct and operate the 17-MW Hollyfield solar farm in King William County.

* Australian investment fund New Energy Solar agreed to acquire a 130-MWdc solar park portfolio from Cypress Creek Renewables LLC, according to Renewables Now. The portfolio includes 14 utility-scale projects in North Carolina and Oregon.

Natural gas/midstream

* A federal court is unlikely to halt service on Energy Transfer Partners LP's Dakota Access oil pipeline even after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to extend a court-ordered environmental review, analysts said.

* Department of Justice attorneys believe that a federal judge does not have the authority to suspend the presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

* Aiming to upgrade infrastructure and support safety, Southern California Gas Co. requested a nearly 20% increase in revenue in its 2019 general rate case.

* Xcel Energy Inc. is proposing to raise natural gas rates in Colorado by $139 million over the next three years to recover investments to improve the natural gas distribution system, The Denver Post reported. The state Public Utilities Commission has set hearings in Denver, Pueblo and Grand Junction to allow the public to comment on the plan.

* BNP Paribas is implementing a new global financing policy that prohibits the company from doing business with firms involved in the exploration, production, distribution, marketing or trading of oil and gas from shale and/or oil from tar stands. The bank also said it will not finance LNG terminals that predominantly liquefy and export gas from shale.

* Targa Resources Partners LP and subsidiary Targa Resources Partners Finance Corp. priced at par a $750 million offering of senior unsecured notes due 2028. The partnership plans to use proceeds from the offering to redeem its 5% senior notes due 2018, reduce borrowings under its credit facilities and for general partnership purposes.

* A Colorado county and three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court to stop the Bureau of Land Management from selling nine oil and gas leases on public land because drilling in the area could harm the Gunnison sage grouse, The Associated Press reported.

Coal

* Major coal producers are expressing support for the Trump administration's move to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

* Researchers from the University of North Dakota have begun studying the feasibility of installing an industrial-scale carbon capture facility at a lignite coal plant in North Dakota.

* The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to review his misdemeanor conviction of conspiracy to violate mine safety laws Oct. 10.

Commodities

* Offshore oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico are repopulating their platforms and ramping supply following Hurricane Nate.

* Day-ahead power values could falter Wednesday, Oct. 11, in line with mostly declining demand expectations for the latter part of the workweek.

* Following a 5.8-cent gain in the prior session to settle at $2.891/MMBtu, NYMEX November natural gas futures were higher ahead of the Wednesday, Oct. 11, open, despite stalled fundamentals. At 7:01 a.m. ET, the contract was 4.2 cents higher at $2.933/MMBtu.

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New from RRA

* On Oct. 6, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission staff filed testimony in Public Service Co. of Colorado's pending gas rate case, Docket No. 17AL-0363G, recommending that the company be accorded a single-step $24.8 million base rate increase premised upon a 9% return on equity (56.06% of capital) and a 7.58% return on an average rate base valued at $1.52 billion for a calendar 2016 test year.

Quoted

"A proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan without any timeline or even a commitment to propose a rule to reduce carbon pollution, isn't a step forward, it's a wholesale retreat from EPA's legal, scientific and moral obligation to address the threats of climate change," said former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, responding to current Administrator Scott Pruitt's plan to withdraw the Clean Power Plan.

The day ahead

* The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing entitled "NIST's Physical Security Vulnerabilities: A GAO Undercover Review" at 10 a.m. ET in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower 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.