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Mass. utilities drop Northern Pass; NAFTA could speed approval of coal terminal


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Mass. utilities drop Northern Pass; NAFTA could speed approval of coal terminal

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Mass. utilities drop Northern Pass, pick hydro-backed Central Maine Power line

Massachusetts' three major electric distribution companies abandoned contract negotiations with Eversource Energy for a supply of Canadian hydroelectric power over the company's proposed Northern Pass transmission line through New Hampshire and will instead negotiate a contract for power to be delivered over a transmission line proposed by Central Maine Power Co.

FERC tax decision puts MLP drop-down model under scrutiny as stocks take beating

An unfavorable federal tax ruling highlighted the sensitivity of energy master limited partnerships to policy changes as Dominion Energy Midstream Partners LP's stock plummeted, prompting some analysts to question the drop-down structure that oil and gas companies use to stash midstream assets in tax-advantaged partnerships.

Lighthouse could use NAFTA to fast-track approval of Wash. coal export terminal

A coal producer is pushing the Trump administration to use ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations to override state opposition to a proposed export terminal that would allow more U.S. thermal coal to be shipped to Asian markets.


* FirstEnergy Corp. notified the regional grid operator PJM Interconnection of its plans to retire three nuclear plants in the next two to three years due to poor market conditions.

* Dominion Energy Inc. is likely to end its acquisition of SCANA Corp. if South Carolina lawmakers pass a bill removing the nuclear surcharge associated with the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project, The Associated Press reported.

* With the right policies and infrastructure, the U.S. could get most of its electricity from renewable resources without hurting the performance of the power grid, according to an official who helps develop and oversee compliance with reliability standards.

* South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged the state General Assembly to begin the sale process of Santee Cooper and blasted the state-owned utility for lobbying against its sale, The State of Columbia, S.C., reported.

* A bill, sponsored by Minnesota state Sen. Andrew Mathews, would help Xcel Energy Inc. learn how much it can recover for maintaining its Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants nuclear power plants early in the process, Minnesota Public Radio reported. However, Gov. Mark Dayton is not keen on changing the current process of rate recovery.

* An internal memo reportedly sent to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staffers included a list of eight "approved talking points" to downplay climate change, the Huffington Post reported. However, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the publication that it was not an official memo and that "implying we are telling people to downplay climate change is a gross over misrepresentation of the facts."

* A Delaware court is allowing a shareholder lawsuit on Tesla Inc.'s acquisition of SolarCity Corp. to move forward, with Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights writing: "I conclude it is reasonably conceivable that [Elon Musk], as a controlling stockholder, controlled the Tesla Board in connection with the Acquisition," the Financial Times reported. Musk owned a 22% interest in SolarCity.

* Competitive electricity supplier Viridian Energy LLC is paying $5 million to settle allegations of using deceptive marketing and sales tactics, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

* The Oregon Public Utility Staff said PacifiCorp's $1.5 billion wind power bidding process "did not result in the selection of the best resources for ratepayers," according to the Portland Business Journal.

* The Jacksonville, Fla., City Council stripped the power of the JEA privatization committee to subpoena witnesses, ahead of the expected questioning of JEA CEO Paul McElroy, The Florida Times-Union reported.

Natural gas/Oil

* Concho Resources Inc.'s announced $9.5 billion all-stock purchase of RSP Permian Inc. could make the company one of the major powers in the prolific Permian Basin oil play in West Texas, but investors reacted negatively as some analysts questioned an acreage cost as high as any in memory.

* The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to solicit information and nominations for proposed lease sale in Alaska's Beaufort Sea Planning Area in 2019.

* A report by the U.S. Department of Energy concluding that coal saved the northeastern U.S. from catastrophic blackouts during the "bomb cyclone" winter storm Dec. 27, 2017, to Jan. 8, 2018, was mistaken because it incorrectly conflated the amounts of fuels dispatched for electricity with the amount of fuel available, a natural gas industry group said.

* Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton intends to veto a bill authorizing construction of Enbridge Energy Partners LP's Line 3 oil pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

* Despite emerging as the top source of power generation, natural gas is facing headwinds with technology and economics lessening the broad need for fossil fuel plants, The New York Times reported.

* The Permian Basin has turned into the "worst market" for natural gas as prices hit the lowest among major U.S. hubs due to the shortage of pipelines, Bloomberg News reported.


* GCC Energy LLC's request to expand its King II underground coal mine in Colorado has been approved by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

* The CEO of American Electric Power Co. Inc. at an industry conference March 28 expressed interest in small-scale coal plants, framing the technology as a possible distributed energy solution to preserve coal's declining share of the national energy mix.

* Tunnel Ridge LLC is seeking approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to expand operations at its underground coal mine in Washington County, reported.


* Some public power debt issuers operating in Texas may be shielded from the volatility that experts expect to occur this summer in the state's wholesale power market.

* The natural gas inventory report slated for release at 10:30 a.m. ET on March 29 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration could outline a drawdown well above the five-year average.

* Following a session of soft prices on Wednesday, declining demand forecasts should depress power dailies across the U.S. on Thursday, March 29, despite a slight advance in the natural gas markets.

* After closing 1.6 cents lower at $2.698/MMBtu in its debut in the lead slot, May natural gas futures turned higher overnight ahead of the Thursday, March 29, open, and the midmorning release of the next slate of storage data.

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New from RRA

* A settlement filed by the parties to Kentucky Utilities Co.'s pending rate case in Virginia addresses the impacts of the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the federal corporate income tax rate to 21% from 35% effective Jan. 1, 2018.


"Though the plants have taken aggressive measures to cut costs, the market challenges facing these units are beyond our control," Don Moul, president of FES Generation Companies and FirstEnergy's chief nuclear officer, said in announcing that its financially troubled FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. subsidiary will shut all three of its nuclear plants operating in the PJM Interconnection market in the next three years.

The day ahead

* The EIA natural gas storage report is due out today.

* 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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