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Energy, Editor's picks: Southern working to prevent cybersecurity 'nightmare'

S&P Global Market Intelligence editors' picks for the best stories for the week ended March 29.

1. Southern working to prevent cybersecurity 'nightmare,' CEO says

The energy sector is largely prepared to counter cyberthreats, Southern Co.'s CEO said March 27, but he is still cognizant of challenges facing the industry. "I think the issue in cybersecurity is not so much to dwell on the dream" of innovation, "but rather to prevent the nightmare," Southern Chairman, President and CEO Tom Fanning said at the Energy Thought Summit in Austin, Texas.

2. Retail rising: Competitive power's 'integrated' customer focus takes hold

After declaring the independent power producer model "obsolete" in early 2017, NRG Energy Inc. President and CEO Mauricio Gutierrez has begun offering investors the "integrated competitive power" model as its replacement.

3. Retail rising: Crowded market sparks scrum for power customers

Describing deal multiples on retail energy portfolios outside Texas, Vistra Energy Corp. CEO Curt Morgan recently called valuations "a little frothier" than he would prefer, suggesting an influx of fellow suitors with similar strategic interests in expanding their retail presence.

4. MLPs face another reckoning after FERC tax allowance proclamation

A March 15 decision to extinguish a tax benefit for oil and gas pipelines organized as master limited partnerships compounded the drag on an already burdened sector, potentially accelerating decisions to abandon the MLP structure.

5. US coal sector unlikely to be harmed in potential trade war with China

The U.S. coal industry, a sector key to President Donald Trump's campaign and policy platforms, would likely be shielded from direct impacts of a trade war with China.

6. Some Texas municipals may be less exposed to volatile summer power prices

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.