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Duke plans battery storage in regulated markets; PUCO chairman to step down

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


Duke plans battery storage in regulated markets; PUCO chairman to step down

Top news

is looking to makethe leap from pilot projects to commercial installations of batteries to storeenergy in its regulated electricity markets, signaling another stage in thematurity of battery storage technology.

WithHalliburton Co.waiting to announce its first-quarter earnings until after an April 30 deadlinefor its merger with Baker HughesInc., analysts are becoming increasingly convinced that the deal isdoomed.

President and CEO Joseph Craft said his company's could be strengthened by therecent bankruptciesthat have befallenits peers.

Power

* Bya 54-42 vote, the U.S. Senate passeda bipartisan amendment to restore wind energy research funding for fiscal year2017 and allocates an additional $15.4 million to wind energy research fromwithin existing research programs at the U.S. Department of Energy. Theamendment was offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Jeff Merkley,D-Ore.

*Andre Porter, who was swornin as chairman of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission in April2015, plans to step down to accept a job offer out of the state, TheColumbus Dispatch reported, citing sources close to the matter. Porterwas appointed to thePUC by Gov. John Kasich to serve a five-year term that extends to April 10,2020.

*Southern Co.reported $532million, or 58 cents per share, in first-quarter 2016 income excluding specialitems. This would compare to the $514 million, or 56 cents per share, booked inthe first quarter of 2015 and is above the S&P Global Market Intelligencenormalized EPS consensus of 53 cents.

*SunEdison Inc., whichfiled for bankruptcyprotection last week, struck a dealto sell 202 MW of under-construction solar projects to Colbun SA in Chile.Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Separately, Grid Alternativessued SunEdison Inc.'scharitable arm — seeking about $2.3 million in unpaid donations, accordingto a report from greentechmedia.com. SunEdison Foundation in February 2015 announceda $5 million contribution to their philanthropic partnership with thenon-profit solar installer.

*Sky Global PartnersLLC's 51-MW natural-gas fired power plant in Colorado County, Texas, has achievedcommercial operation. The plant will supply peaking power to meet the powerdemands of the 18,000 members of San Bernard Electric Coop Inc., according to a news release.

*AES Corp. subsidiaryAES 3C Maritza East I (Maritza) in Bulgaria has received €309 million inoutstanding receivables from state-owned wholesale power company, NEK, relatedto an amendment to Maritza's power purchase agreement. Maritza will use themajority of the proceeds to pay the local coal mine that supplies the plant, aswell as repay the lenders of the plant's non-recourse debt, according to acompany statement.

*NRG Energy Inc.yieldco NRG YieldInc. is facing a class-actionlawsuit on behalf of purchasers of its class C common stock issued under astock offering completed June 29, 2015. The suit was filed by Robbins ArroyoLLP in the Superior Court of the State of California.

Natural gas/midstream

*The Laclede GroupInc.'s $344 million acquisition of EnergySouth Inc. from Sempra U.S. Gas & Power LLC aligns with the St.Louis-based company's strategy of adding customers around its existingfootprint while growing earningsand cash flow, its CEO said.

*Canada's NationalEnergy Board has releaseda preliminary timeline for the hearing process of 's C$15.7 billion Energy Eastpipeline, reflecting an extended time limit of 21 months.

*The political discourse on energy policy has been this electioncycle, creating an atmosphere that largely precludes compromise, industryobservers said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

Coal

* Asexpected, haschallenged the U.S. EPA's supplemental finding to the Mercury and Air ToxicsStandards, confirming a proposed determination that regulating mercury andcertain other pollutants from power plants is "appropriate andnecessary" even when considering the cost of compliance. The company filedthe lawsuit in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, TheAssociated Press reports.

*The ripple effects of Arch CoalInc.'s bankruptcy filing continue to be felt as the U.S. Surface TransportationBoard announced that it would not move forward on permitting for the company'sproposed Tongue River RailroadCo. Inc. project, which was intended to transport Montana coal outof the region.

* Atrio of environmental advocacy groups, including the West Chapter of the SierraClub, sued the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection forallegedly violating the Clean Water Act by "allowing excessive amounts ofpollutants" to discharge from the abandoned coal mine sites in Barbour,Nicholas and Preston counties, the APreports. In their lawsuits, the groups call for more funding to treat waterpollution at the mine sites.

*SunCoke Energy PartnersLP bookeda $27.2 million year-over-year increase in first-quarter net incomeattributable to the partnership of $39.8 million, primarily driven by $20.4million of gains on extinguishment of debt recognized during the quarter, aswell as the benefit of the Convent Marine Terminal acquisition. Adjusted EBITDAattributable to the partnership increased $12.7 million to $56.5 million.However, revenues were down $8.8 million year over year to $194.5 million in themost recent quarter. The decline was primarily due to the pass-through of lowercoal costs in the partnership's Domestic Coke segment.

*Separately, SunCoke EnergyInc. posteda first-quarter 2016 adjusted EBITDA loss from coal mining business of $4.1million, compared to a loss of $3.1 million in the same quarter of last year.The results reflect lower coal sales price driven by continued depressed marketconditions.

Commodities

*Auction design changes,combined with a mostly tighter supply balance due to retirements and exports toPJM, worked to impactprices in the latest Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.'s fourthannual Planning Resource Auction, analysts from ICF International said duringan April 26 webinar, "Highlights from MISO's April Capacity Auction."

*After ending the prior session down 3.1 cents at $2.032/MMBtu, May natural gasfutures notched gainsovernight ahead of the Wednesday, April 27, open, driven by short-coveringleading up to the contract's roll off the board at the close of business but limitedby an overriding fundamental weakness, as milder spring weather spellslackluster demand against a backdrop of robust supplies.

*Next-day power markets could shift in divergent directions in the midweek session, Wednesday, April27, as traders look to choppy demand forecasts and recent softness in naturalgas.

*Excluding parts of the Southwest, Texas and western Gulf states,higher-than-normal temperatures are expected across most of the United Statesfrom May through July, the Weather Company said in its latest seasonal forecastfor the May-July period. The most anomalous warmth is the PacificNorthwest.

New from RRA

*According to RegulatoryResearch Associates Inc., which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence,the utility regulatory climate in Texas is relatively restrictive from an investor viewpoint, butis less so for natural gas local distribution companies, or LDCs, than forelectric utilities.

Quoted

"SolarCitywould lock into our Arizona Constitution that rooftop solar customers would getretail rate net metering and would prohibit the Arizona Corporation Commissionfrom setting any type of demand charges to cover infrastructure costs for thegrid," Arizona state Sen. Debbie Lesko said, explaining legislation she has proposed to ensurethat the ACC continues to have full constitutional power to regulate rooftopsolar in the state.

The day ahead

* At9 a.m. ET, FirstEnergyCorp. will holdits first-quarter 2016 earnings call.

* At1 p.m. ET, Southern Co. will holdits first-quarter 2016 earnings call.

* At4:30 p.m. ET, First Solar Inc. will hold its first-quarter2016 earnings call.

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