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July 31-Aug. 4: SCANA abandons V.C. Summer project; FERC gets it quorom back

A brief look back at successes and setbacks in the energy industry.


FERC — A quorum was finally restored at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after the U.S. Senate on Aug. 3 voted to confirm Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson. FERC has been without a three-member quorum since early February when former Chairman Norman Bay resigned. Former Commissioner Colette Honorable left the agency at the end of her term on June 30, leaving just acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur on the panel. About $14 billion in private capital for energy infrastructure projects has been held up by the lack of a FERC quorum, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America estimated.

PEABODY — Peabody Energy Corp. on Aug. 1 announced specific plans to reduce debt and authorized a $500 million share repurchase program. The news sent stock prices up for the world's largest private-sector coal company. "Our simple, but powerful financial approach is to generate cash, reduce debt, invest wisely, and return that cash to shareholders," Executive Vice President and CFO Amy Schwetz said in the company's earnings announcement. "The new Peabody isn't about volumes but about margins and returns," Schwetz said on an Aug. 1 earnings call.


ENABLE — CenterPoint Energy Inc. management on Aug. 3 announced the company plans to exit its stake in Enable Midstream Partners through an outright sale, rather than pursuing a spinoff of the oil and gas infrastructure partnership. If a sale cannot be achieved, CenterPoint executives said the company will sell down its stake in Enable through the public equity markets.


V.C. SUMMERSCANA Corp. utility South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and project partner Santee Cooper announced July 31 that they will halt construction of two new 1,117-MW reactors at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, S.C. SCANA Chairman and CEO Kevin Marsh told investors the company still wanted to finish one of the new reactors until Santee Cooper, known legally as South Carolina Public Service Authority, dropped out of the expansion project. SCE&G sought new partners to take Santee Cooper's place and pursued government support as well but to no avail, Marsh said. The decision comes months after engineering, procurement and construction contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC filed for bankruptcy.

WESTMORELAND — Westmoreland Coal Co. on Aug. 3 lowered its 2017 guidance because of "many challenges and frustrations" during the first half of the year, executives said on the company's second-quarter earnings call. Westmoreland reported a net loss of $50.5 million, or $2.69 per share, and lowered its adjusted EBITDA guidance for the full year from a range of $280 million to $310 million to a range of $250 million to $270 million. "Last quarter we still firmly believed we could achieve the lower half of our full-year guidance. This half, we no longer see a path to get there," Westmoreland CEO Kevin Paprzycki said on the call. The coal producer also announced it formalized an agreement to sell its recently retired Roanoke Valley I (ROVA I) and Roanoke Valley II (ROVA II) coal plants in North Carolina for $5 million to ROVA Venture LLC.