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Court scrutinizes opponents' claims in CPP case; Wyoming clears way for new coal mine

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Court scrutinizes opponents' claims in CPP case; Wyoming clears way for new coal mine

Top news

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of ColumbiaCircuit wrapped up a marathon session of oral arguments on the late Sept. 27by questioning opponents' claims that the carbon-cutting rule isunconstitutional and that the U.S. EPA failed to show its goals are achievable,among other issues.

With government approval in hand, developers of the PacificNorthWest LNG project still face the tough decision of whether to move forwardwith it. A glutted LNG market, a thick list of required environmentalconditions and a price tag last estimated at C$36 billion are all pointsMalaysian state energy company Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, must weighin determining how to proceed with its effort to build the liquefaction andexport facility on British Columbia's Lelu Island.

The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council granted consent toRamaco LLC to move forward in the permitting process for a new coal mineoperation in the state, overriding opposition from a neighboring landowner.During a Sept. 28 hearing held in Cheyenne, Wyo., the six members of thecouncil voted unanimously to allow consent in lieu of surface owners to Ramacosuperseding a challenge from neighboring landowner, Lighthouse Resources Inc.

Power

* New Mexico regulators have an approximately , or 10.2%,electric rateincrease for Public ServiceCo. of New Mexico, more than the hearing examiner's recommendedhike of $41.3million. The PNMResources Inc. subsidiary had originally an increase of , or 14.4%. In response,PNM said it was disappointed that the regulators discounted the value of PaloVerde assets and did not approve recovery of the balanced draft technology forthe San Juan plant and that it plans to file an appeal to the New MexicoSupreme Court.

* With its plan to be acquired by still up in the air,SolarCity Corp haslined up more than $650million in financing in just over two weeks. The developer andfinancier on Sept. 28 said Citi is supporting a pair of funds to develop morethan $347 million of solar projects in California. That followed a Sept. 12announcement that a private fund affiliated with Quantum Strategic PartnersLtd. made a $305 million equity investment in a portfolio of residential,commercial and industrial solar projects.

* The city of Boulder, Colo., is asking Colorado regulatorsto approvea proposal that would allow it to create a municipal utility separate from The city nowseeks approval for the transfer of certain Xcel Energy-owned assets within cityboundaries that are needed to serve its customers. Xcel Energy serves the statethrough its Public Service Co. ofColorado subsidiary.

* AvistaCorp. has joined Energy Impact Partners LP, a private equity firmthat funds emerging technologies to improve customer service, reduce costs andincrease revenues. EIP's utility coalition also includes , , Xcel Energy,Ameren Corp.,Great Plains EnergyInc. and FortisInc.

Natural gas/midstream

* CenterPointEnergy Inc.'s CFO said Sept. 28 with the 30-day window to accept anoffer from OGE EnergyCorp. for its ownership stake in Enable Midstream Partners passing, he had .

* KKR &Co. LP and Venado Oil and Gas LLC have formed a partnership toconsolidate proven assets in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas. KKR's EnergyIncome and Growth Fund I will largely be providing funding support to thepartnership. Meanwhile, Venado plans to "apply its expertise" toacquire and enhance the assets through operational efficiency, technicalinnovation and community relations, according to a news release.

* ChesapeakeEnergy Corp. launched an $850 million private placement ofconvertible senior notes due 2026, according to a company statement.Net proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, which may includedebt repurchases and the repayment of the company's credit facility and senior noteswith near-term maturities.

* Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr hasrejected assumptions that the federal government will now green-lightKinder Morgan Inc.'splanned Trans Mountain oil pipeline after giving its to the Pacific NorthWestLNG project, Reutersreports. "Kinder Morgan will be decided on its own merits," Carr wasquoted as saying. "There is no linkage between these projects."

* BoardwalkPipeline Partners LP, despite looming contract roll-offs, iscompelling to investorslargely due to its growth potential, project backlog and extensive gas pipelinesystem, according to analysts at U.S. Capital Advisors. The analysts initiatedcoverage of Boardwalk with a price target of $22 per share and a"buy" rating.

* DTE EnergyCo. plansto sell 12 million equity units to help fund its proposed $1.3 billion acquisition of midstream gas assets in the AppalachianBasin from M3 MidstreamLLC and Vega EnergyPartners Ltd., according to a DTE release.

Coal

* In an interview with BloombergNews, Duke EnergyCorp. CEO Lynn Good said the company's planned of "willaccelerate" Duke's transition away from coal-fired generation to naturalgas-fired generation. "I think we'll still be operating coal in2030," Good was quoted as saying. "Whether we will be in 2040 I thinkis a question, or in 2050."

* Two years ago, ahead of a cascade of coal bankruptcies andplummeting U.S. coal demand, Robert Murray stood before a crowd of coal'ssupporters in Florida and shared his goal of being the "last manstanding" in the coal business. Today, with over 50 coal companybankruptcy filings since 2012, hemay not be far off.

Commodities

* The weekly natural gas inventory report to be released bythe U.S. Energy Information Administration at 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, Sept.29, is expected toshow natural gas inventories building at a still lackluster pace,trailing historical average injections considerably.

* Taking the lead from the October gas contract that rolledoff the board in the prior session down 4.4 cents at a finish at $2.952/MMBtu,natural gas futures for November were biased higher overnight ahead of the Thursday, Sept. 29,open as traders jockeyed for positions leading up to the midmorning release ofthe weekly storage report that is expected to show another smaller-than-averagebuild that would allow for a further erosion of stock overhangs.

* Day-ahead power values could have a Thursday, Sept. 29, asexpectations for jumbled demand at the close of the workweek conspire with therecent volatility in natural gas futures trading. With the October gas futurescontract rolling off the board Sept. 28, the new front-month November contractwas unchanged early Thursday ahead of the opening bell.

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New from RRA

* On Sep. 26, the Maryland Public Service Commissioninitiated aproceeding to review the state's electric distribution systems, thefocus of the which is to ensure that such systems are customer-centered,affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable.

Quoted

"That 30-day period has lapsed and suffice it to saythat, given that we have not put out a press release and a Form 8-K on amaterial agreement, there is no material agreement to report at thistime," CenterPoint Energy CFO Bill Rogers regarding the company'sconsideration of the sale of its interest in Enable Midstream Partners toinvestment partner OGE Energy.

The day ahead

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

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a loweropening for the U.S. equity markets. To view more SNL equity market indexes,click here.To view more SNL Energy commodities prices, click here.