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Coal miner denies role in DOE proposal; pipe policy changes concern both sides


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Coal miner denies role in DOE proposal; pipe policy changes concern both sides

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Murray Energy, US Chamber claim no role in development of DOE grid proposal

Coal miner Murray Energy Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are distancing themselves from the U.S. Department of Energy's proposed grid reliability rule in newly released comments filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Industry, opponents both concerned about changes to FERC's gas pipeline policy

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's announcement that it will review an 18-year-old policy has prompted both the pipeline industry and its opponents to worry what changes it might bring to the commission's natural gas pipeline review process.

Activist investor bumps stake in Westmoreland Coal as shares flounder

Distressed asset investor Mangrove Partners scooped up low-cost shares of Westmoreland Coal Co. in the recent quarter, bringing its position to a 5.3% stake in the company's outstanding shares.


* The U.S. Department of the Interior has moved to protect energy companies and others from prosecution if their activities or infrastructure accidentally kill or injure migratory birds.

* The attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to require upwind states to control smog pollution. Specifically, the suit challenges the agency's denial of a petition that New York and several other states filed in late 2013 for the EPA to add nine additional states to the "Ozone Transport Region."

* The Bonneville Power Administration and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock hope to find ways to remove hurdles to delivering the state's renewable energy to consumers on the West Coast.

* Two more Texas stakeholders joined a settlement agreement for Sempra Energy's pending acquisition of Energy Future Holdings Corp. and its approximate 80% ownership stake in Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC. The Alliance for Retail Markets and the Texas Energy Association for Marketers joined the settlement announced Dec. 14 and agreed that the deal "is in the public interest, meets Texas statutory standards, and will bring substantial benefits."

* Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc. filed a motion with state regulators to reconsider parts of their Dec. 15 interim order. "As a result of the pension cost ruling in the interim decision, the company would forfeit millions of dollars it has already funded in employee pensions," CFO Tayne Sekimura said in a statement.

* Commonwealth Edison Co. has started a pilot ride-sharing program that exclusively uses electric vehicles, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Exelon Corp. utility will use the program to study energy use, the report added.

* The New Mexico State Land Office has issued a 50-year lease for Cowboy Mesa LLC's planned 20-MW wind farm on state trust land, The Associated Press reported.

Natural gas/Oil

* Dominion Energy Inc.'s Questar Southern Trails Pipeline Co. filed for federal authorization to abandon its entire 488-mile natural gas transportation system and sell a big part of it to its remaining customer because the revenue generated by the line is only a fraction of its expenses.

* China imported 407,325 metric tons of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. in November, a 57% increase over October shipments, Bloomberg News reported. "U.S. exports are ramping rapidly up, while China is the fastest growing importer," Wood Mackenzie Ltd. analyst Kerry Anne Shanks was quoted as saying. "LNG trade between the two countries will continue to grow."

* Exploration and production companies that are just above and below the boundary separating investment grade from speculative grade walk a fine line, S&P Global Ratings credit analysts said, with the key numbers to watch in 2018 being commodity pricing and ratios of funds from operations to debt.

* Steel Reef Pipelines US LLC is seeking the the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval to construct and operate border-crossing natural gas pipeline facilities to export natural gas from the U.S. to Canada.


* The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comment on planned discharge from a Kentucky Fuel Corp. surface coal mine project.

* Blankenberger Brothers Inc. is in talks with several companies about financing and marketing a proposed thermal coal underground mine in Pike County, Ind., that could produce as much as 3 million tons a year, according to the company's president, Donnie Blankenberger.


* Following a 2.4-cent slump in the prior session to settle at $2.643/MMBtu, NYMEX January 2018 natural gas futures attempted to extend the downside but reversed higher ahead of the Wednesday, Dec. 27, open and the contract's expiration at the close of business, as traders considered weather-related demand support implied by outlooks.

* Price action for power dailies could move higher in most cases Wednesday, Dec. 27, as traders look to predominantly stronger demand outlooks for the latter part of the workweek.

* Over-the-counter prices for California carbon allowances increased in value during the week ended Dec. 22. Trading activity in secondary market for California carbon allowances was slow overall due to the Christmas Day holiday.

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New from RRA

* In a rate case filing submitted Dec. 21, AES Corp. subsidiary Indianapolis Power & Light Co. proposes to implement a $124.5 million, or 9.1%, electric base rate increase premised upon a 10.32% return on equity (40.16% of a regulatory capital structure) and a 6.77% return on a year-end rate base valued at $3.398 billion for a test year ended June 30, 2017, adjusted for known and measurable changes.


"Because the advocacy groups cannot prevail on the merits in their opposition to the grid resiliency rule, they resort to underhanded conspiracy theory and insinuations," Murray Energy said in response to suggestions from environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council that a document titled "Action Plan For Reliable And Low-Cost Electricity In America And To Assist In The Survival Of Our Country's Coal Industry," supplied by Murray to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, helped form the basis of the Department of Energy's proposed grid reliability rule.

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.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some links may require registration or a subscription. S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.