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Calif. regulators zero in on power shut-off rules; FERC approves NJ gas project

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Calif. regulators zero in on power shut-off rules; FERC approves NJ gas project

Top News

Calif. regulators zero in on power shut-off rules to prevent wildfires

California regulators opened a proceeding to examine utility power line de-energization procedures that are aimed at preventing electricity-sparked wildfires following the state's worst-ever fire in which electrical equipment is the suspected cause.

FERC approves NJ gas expansion project as panel's Democrats press climate debate

Williams Cos. Inc.'s Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC picked up approval from a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission divided over climate change for a 65,000-Dth/d compression expansion that will provide firm natural gas transportation service to help two utilities serve industrial, commercial and residential customers.

Federal regulator to decide oversight for C$6B TransCanada pipeline to LNG plant

Canada's federal energy regulator will hold hearings to determine whether a TransCanada Corp. pipeline that would supply an LNG export facility in British Columbia falls within its jurisdiction, which would complicate the project's approval process.

Mission Coal sees backlash from workers, creditors over incentive programs

Unsecured creditors and the unionized workforce of Mission Coal Co. LLC filed objections to two incentive programs the company proposed to retain employees during its bankruptcy sale process.

Quoted

“This is the goal that we have placed at the center of our new energy sector strategy: To decarbonize the power sector with a decisive shift away from the most polluting fuels," said Nandita Parshad, managing director of energy and natural resources for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, announcing that the EBRD will no longer finance thermal coal mining or coal-fired electricity generation as it seeks to increase its investments in renewable energies.

Power

* A group of U.S. Senate Democrats asked new FERC member Bernard McNamee to recuse himself from any matters at FERC that touch on his past work as a U.S. Department of Energy lawyer to save financially struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

* Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked state regulators to review a pending settlement agreement that requires Entergy Corp. to speed up the closing of power plants, saying the early closure of those plants could raise rates and affect service for over 1.2 million Arkansans. Rutledge also petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to intervene in the case.

* PG&E Corp. subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is seeking approval from California regulators to increase its revenue by nearly $2 billion over a three-year period beginning in 2020, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. If approved, average residential customers would see a monthly increase to their bills of $10.57, or 6.4%.

* South Carolina regulators are expected to decide today whether to approve Dominion Energy Inc.'s longstanding offer to acquire SCANA Corp., along with its pitches for rate relief, while also deciding whether to adopt a bigger rate cut preferred by the state's utility watchdog and "reparations" sought by environmental groups.

* The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will resume an auction today for three lease areas, totaling approximately 390,000 acres, for commercial wind energy offshore Massachusetts, with four companies still competing for the leases, Bloomberg News reported.

* Sempra Energy has completed the sale of a renewable project portfolio to Consolidated Edison Inc. for approximately $1.6 billion. The portfolio includes 980 MWac of operating projects and certain development rights for additional solar and energy storage projects.

* Despite regulatory uncertainty regarding the future of its namesake project, Vineyard Wind LLC is moving ahead with financing for its offshore wind facility.

* In a letter to the Shelby County Health Department, the Southern Environmental Law Center called for the cancellation of five water well permits for the Tennessee Valley Authority's Allen natural gas facility.

Natural gas

* In another rebuke to the federal permitting for the Dominion Energy Inc.-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC natural gas transportation project, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit struck down the U.S. Forest Service decisions to allow the pipeline to cross national forests and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

* Texas regulators issued air quality permits to NextDecade Corp.'s proposed Rio Grande LNG export terminal at the Port of Brownsville, Texas. The company expects to make final investment decision on the project in the third quarter 2019.

* An explosion occurred at MarkWest Energy Partners LP's Houston processing plant Dec. 13 near two temporary tanks that were on site for routine maintenance, resulting in a fire that broke out around 6 p.m. ET.

* SemGroup Corp. subsidiary SemCAMS ULC signed a 10-year agreement to process 70 MMcf/d of Montney gas at the 200-MMcf/d Wapiti gas plant. The 95% contracted gas project is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2019.

* Natural disasters and extreme weather are increasingly affecting U.S. energy infrastructure operators, with possible ramifications for their financial performance, Fitch Ratings warned.

* Exxon Mobil Corp. is moving forward with its plans to invest in Australia's West Barracouta natural gas field in the Bass Strait, Reuters reported.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management sold 20 parcels, totaling 7,847 acres, in five Colorado counties at its quarterly oil and gas lease sale for $981,143. The combined bids will be distributed between the federal government and Colorado.

Oil

* The International Energy Agency left its short-term oil demand growth outlook largely unchanged and expects global oil production growth to slow as OPEC members and some non-OPEC countries look to stabilize prices and bring the market toward balance.

* London-based Premier Oil PLC is said to be interested in bidding for Chevron Corp.'s oil and gas assets in the North Sea, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people familiar with the matter." The assets could be valued at $2 billion.

* Separately, industry and banking sources told Reuters reports that oil firm Chrysaor hired Jefferies and BMO to help explore the purchase of Chevron's North Sea oil and gas assets for more $2.5 billion.

* In a December factual investigative update, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board drew parallels between an April 26 explosion and fire at Husky Energy Inc.'s Superior, Wis., refinery and a separate disaster that occurred at Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Torrance, Calif., refinery — now owned by PBF Energy Inc. — on Feb. 18, 2015, citing ineffective safeguards to prevent the the disasters.

* State-owned oil company Saudi Aramco is looking to cut its oil shipments to U.S. refiners in January 2019 in a bid to avoid an expansion of American stockpiles, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people briefed on the plans."

* Geno Alessandrini resigned as a member of the newly formed Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority to oversee construction and operation of a tunnel that would house a replacement segment for Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 oil pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

Coal

* A district court ruled that Washington state officials did not violate federal regulations when they denied a water quality certificate for a proposed coal export terminal, potentially gutting the developers' efforts to move the project forward in the courts.

* Total U.S. coal production for the week ended Dec. 8 declined 4.2% year over year to 15.0 million tons from 15.7 million tons, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

ChartWatch

SNL Image

LNG demand that is not covered by supply contracts among the world's seven biggest buyers could grow fourfold to about 80 million tonnes per annum by 2030, coming close to the amount of the buyers' contracted demand as their total demand increases, according to a report from consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

New from RRA

* Kansas City Power & Light Co.'s ratepayers in Kansas will have a little more money in their pockets beginning Dec. 20.

The day ahead

SNL Image

* 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 Baker-Hughes rig count report is due out today.

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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