FERC actions will not come to total standstill with just 2 commissioners, freeze
While the departure of former chairman Norman Bay from FERC could leave the agency unable to vote out major orders for some time, the work of FERC staff will continue, including the issuance of letters and delegated orders that can be signed by a FERC staff member. In addition, sources indicate that FERC is looking at ways it can expand the authority it has delegated to staff.
Resignation of former FERC chairman may hobble 4 major gas pipeline projects
The departure of former FERC Chairman Norman Bay could cause delay for months for four major natural gas pipeline projects at vulnerable points in their review, analysts said the day after Bay announced his intent to step down.
Kentucky mine sees first US coal fatality of 2017
A conveyor belt attendant died in an accident in Pike County, Ky., on Jan. 26 in the first U.S. coal mine fatality of 2017. According to a press release from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Ray Hatfield, 42, of Hi Hat, Ky., was working at the R&C Coal LLC Mine No. 2 in Pikeville when the accident occurred.
* The U.S. energy sector added more than 300,000 net new jobs, or about 14% of all jobs created in the country in 2016, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. The report shows that solar workforce increased by 25% and the wind workforce grew by 32% last year.
* Knighthead Capital Management LLC is pushing TerraForm Global Inc. to appoint two new independent directors as the yieldco considers how to break away from its bankrupt sponsor, SunEdison Inc.
* The New York Public Service Commission granted a joint petition by investor-owned utilities in the state to address the backlog of distributed generation projects in their interconnection queue by adopting a queue management plan and a cost allocation mechanism.
* The city of Bainbridge Island, Wash., would need an estimated $57.7 million to buy Puget Sound Energy Inc.'s electric facilities and create a municipal utility, a draft study of the idea said. Businesses and residents on the island west of Seattle in Puget Sound now get service from PSE.
* Powin Energy has energized a 2 MW/8 MWh battery energy storage system in Irvine, Calif., that will provide critical peaking capacity and grid support services to Southern California Edison Co. "The natural gas and resulting capacity shortages due to the Aliso Canyon emergency shutdown necessitated that we bring this project online by the end of 2016," said Power Energy President Geoff Brown.
* NEXUS Gas Transmission LLC has sought FERC authorization to build an approximately 255-mile interstate natural gas transmission pipeline by Feb. 3, which is the effective date of Commissioner Norman Bay's resignation. The project is jointly owned by DTE Energy Co. and Spectra Energy Corp. Separately, TransCanada Corp. and Williams Cos. Inc. asked FERC to issue permits for their proposed Leach Xpress and Transco Atlantic Sunrise projects, respectively, by same the date.
* Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is asking Boulder County commissioners to lift their "illegal moratorium" on oil and natural gas development, saying the authority to regulate the sector belongs to the state and not the local governments. "I am hopeful that the Boulder County Commissioners will take the necessary steps to come into compliance rather than forcing the State to go to court," Coffman said in a statement.
* The California Public Utilities Commission is set to vote Feb. 9 on opening an order instituting investigation, or OII, to determine the feasibility of minimizing or eliminating the use of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, while maintaining energy and electricity reliability for the Los Angeles region.
* As it continues its strategic review, Enbridge Energy Partners LP has launched three actions to help fund ongoing projects and improve cash flow, among them the recently announced deal to take Midcoast Energy Partners LP private.
* Enterprise Products Partners LP reported net income attributable to limited partners of $658.8 million, or 31 cents per unit, in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $684.8 million, or 34 cents per unit, in the same quarter of 2015. The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the 2016 fourth quarter was 32 cents.
* Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. secured up to $1.0 billion in revolving credit commitments under a credit facility with JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, as administrative agent. The initial maturity date under the facility is Dec. 15, according to a company filing. The facility is guaranteed by TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.
* Alliance Resource Partners LP reported fourth-quarter net income of $119.6 million, or $1.30 per unit, compared to $21.5 million, or a loss of 19 cents per unit, in the year-ago period. Alliance reported Jan. 30 that the improvement was led by increased coal sales volumes and significantly lower operating expenses. The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate was 81 cents for the 2016 fourth quarter.
* Based on preliminary unaudited results, Peabody Energy Corp. estimates full-year 2016 adjusted EBITDA in a range between $482 million and $502 million and revenues in the range between $4.71 billion and $4.72 billion. Separately, Peabody Energy is proposing senior secured term loan financings as part of its reorganization plan to reduce debt burden by over $5 billion from balance sheet debt at March 31, 2016. According to Peabody, the new first-lien debt will be used to refinance its first-lien pre-petition claims and pay related transaction fees and expenses, while it expects second-lien and unsecured creditors to own a majority of the company post-emergence from bankruptcy.
* The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said that companies controlled by Gov. Jim Justice, D-W.Va., still owes $4.6 million in safety fines and penalties, according to news reports. A recent story by the Associated Press found that the amount owed to the federal mine safety watchdog was unpaid as of Jan. 25 by Justice's company Southern Coal Corp.
* China is again the world's top importer of coal after its overseas purchases reached 255.5 million tonnes in 2016, surpassing India's coal imports of 194.93 million tonnes last year, according to Reuters.
* Peabody Energy Corp. in a Form 8-K filing confirmed that it received a letter from PNC Bank NA, whereby the latter agreed to amend an existing securitization facility as part of an amended and restated receivables purchase agreement.
* Analysts expect that the clearing price in the upcoming 11th annual ISO New England Inc. capacity auction will come in well below the prior year's price, as new generating capacity continues to replace recently retired and retiring generators.
* CFTC acting Chairman Christopher Giancarlo announced a number of staff changes, including the appointment of Amir Zaidi as director of the market oversight division. Zaidi has served as legal counsel and policy adviser in the CFTC's Office of Commissioner since August 2014.
* Taking the lead from the February gas contract that rolled off the board ahead of the weekend with a 0.9-cent gain at a settle at $3.391/MMBtu, March natural gas futures were lower in overnight trading leading up to the Monday, Jan. 30, open, as traders look to weakening fundamentals.
* Price action for power dailies could unwind in the week's opening session Monday, Jan. 30, as predominantly declining demand forecasts for Tuesday conspire with weakness at the natural gas futures arena. Rolling into the front-month slot with the Jan. 27 expiration of the February contract, March natural gas futures were down in early trade Monday ahead of the opening bell.
New from RRA
* Despite its long history of production, the Permian remains extraordinarily relevant, and situated at the forefront of returning oil development activity, due to unique nature of formation and preponderance of established take-away capacity.
* On Jan. 26, the Pennsylvania PUC adopted a report issued by the commission's Bureau of Technical Utility Services with respect to the quarterly earnings of the Pennsylvania utilities.
"I would expect that in 2020 without PTCs, wind would be a 2-3 cents/kWh product and solar without an ITC will be in the range of 3-4 cents/kWh," NextEra Energy Inc. Chairman, President and CEO James Robo said during the company's fourth-quarter 2016 earnings call.
The day ahead
* Alliance Holdings GP LP and Alliance Resource Partners LP will hold their fourth-quarter 2016 earnings conference call at 10 a.m. ET.
* Enterprise Products Partners LP will hold its fourth-quarter 2016 earnings conference call at 10 a.m. ET.
* CNX Coal Resources LP will hold its fourth-quarter 2016 earnings conference call at 5 p.m. ET.
* The House Committee on Rules will meet at 5 p.m. ET in H-313 at the Capitol for a hearing to disapprove the U.S. Department of the Interior's Stream Protection rule.
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