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FERC withdraws fast-start resource pricing rule; MLPs to maintain tax advantage

Top News

FERC withdraws fast-start resource pricing rule, will focus on just 3 regions

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 21 withdrew a proposal to reform the pricing policies for generation resources that can get up and running quickly to provide power in response to unforeseen system needs in markets operated by regional transmission organizations and independent system operators.

MLPs to maintain a tax advantage despite corporate rate slash

Even with a slash to the corporate rate, master limited partnerships maintain a tax advantage for energy investors, in part due to a new deduction under the Republican tax plan that passed through Congress on Dec. 20.

Transport costs and quality divide US coal industry into East vs. West

Transportation costs and coal quality are major factors in a growing gap between the coal markets in the Eastern U.S. and those in the West.

Power

* In voting to allow continued construction at the Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, state regulators gave Georgia Power Co., "both carrots and sticks" to incentivize the completion of two new reactors that are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

* The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 21 issued a proposal to address concerns that a gap in existing mandatory reliability standards may result in those standards understating "the true scope of cyber-related threats facing the bulk-power system."

* The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to report "with precision and specificity" on how it would proceed with implementing a 2015 smog pollution rule, The Hill reported.

* Vineyard Wind and Deepwater Wind submitted bids to build Massachusetts' first offshore wind farm and the second project of its kind in the U.S.

* The Nuclear Regulatory Commission downplayed safety warnings from its own experts, according to the Better Government Association. Experts have determined that a third of the 61 nuclear plants are vulnerable to big floods and many have unreliable backup power systems, among other concerns.

* The U.S. Defense Department will not include climate change in its National Defense Strategy, which will be unveiled in January 2018, according to Reuters.

* Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc. is seeking approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to build a 1,050-MW natural gas plant in Putnam County, WJCT reported.

* Idaho Power Co. wants to scale back its plans to increase capacity at its Shoshone Falls hydroelectric facility, The Associated Press reported. FERC approved the company's original application to expand capacity of the plant by 50 MW, but it now wants to increase capacity by just 3.2 MW.

* The Chesapeake, Va., City Council denied a conditional use permit for TradeWind Energy Inc's planned 15-MW solar farm, The Associated Press reported.

Natural gas/oil

* In his first meeting leading the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Chairman Kevin McIntyre promised to revisit a nearly 20-year-old policy statement that guides decisions on pipeline projects, a move that could have big implications for the natural gas industry.

* The Trump administration stopped the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's review of a federal offshore inspections program, which was established following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, The Associated Press reported.

* Ohio's shale gas production increased rapidly in the third quarter, with Gulfport Energy Corp.'s and Ascent Resources' operations in the dry gas counties of Belmont and Monroe accounting for much of the gains.

* Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure Ltd. completed its C$34 million acquisition of certain Deep Basin and Montney region assets. The company also finished the 50 MMcf/d expansion at the Brazeau River Complex.

* Panther Energy Co. III LLC, a private exploration and production company, secured a $375 million equity commitment from Kayne Anderson Fund VIII LP.

* Anadarko Petroleum Corp. informed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that benzene contaminated ground water and soil at a tank battery site, KMGH-TV in Denver reported.

* Canadian National Railway Co. will proceed with its bitumen pellet project to serve oil producers and shippers without pipeline access and for those who want to reach overseas markets, The Globe and Mail reported.

Coal

* Early in 2016, Donald Trump gave his first campaign speech as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in Charleston, W.Va., where he promised he was bringing coal and coal miners back. Flash forward past Trump's win, and 2017 has been a year of great improvement for much of the coal sector.

* Some of Armstrong Energy Inc.'s unsecured creditors are asking a federal bankruptcy judge to allow them to investigate transactions the coal producer made before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

* The city and the county of Santa Cruz in California separately filed lawsuits in the state Superior Court to hold 29 oil, gas and coal companies accountable for damages associated with seal level rise and for greenhouse gas pollution-caused changes to the hydrologic cycle.

Commodities

* Average annual load growth in the PJM Interconnection region by 2028 is projected to be slightly higher than predicted a year ago in an annual load forecast report.

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New from RRA

* The North Dakota Public Service Commission staff filed testimony with the commission in a pending gas distribution rate case for Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., a division of MDU Resources Group Inc., and recommended that the PSC authorize MDU a $2 million (1.79%) gas rate increase.

Quoted

"Today's decision may or may not be the most important decision ever made by this body, but it could certainly be the most impactful depending on how history judges any decision that we make today. I'm certain that there is not a decision that we would make today that will be or would be universally accepted," Georgia PSC Chairman Stan Wise said after regulators voted to allow continued construction at the troubled Vogtle nuclear plant expansion.

The day ahead

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

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