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Fate of Three Mile Island up to Pa. lawmakers; Alpha divests coal, gas assets


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Fate of Three Mile Island up to Pa. lawmakers; Alpha divests coal, gas assets

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Analysts: Fate of Three Mile Island nuke up to Pa. lawmakers

Exelon Corp. put the future of its Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the hands of Pennsylvania lawmakers. The operator of America's most infamous nuclear plant announced May 30 a retirement date of Sept. 30, 2019, for the 829-MW single-unit reactor in Dauphin County, Pa., after it failed last week for the fourth consecutive time to clear PJM Interconnection's annual capacity auction. Three Mile Island was made a household name in 1979 when a partial meltdown of its now-decommissioned second unit resulted in the release of radioactive gases and the voluntary evacuation of 140,000 people.

State regulation to blunt impact of changes under Trump for some utilities

An array of federal policies now in flux would touch the utility sector, but several companies expect their business structures and state regulatory environments to shield them from significant impacts. The Trump administration is pressing forward on multiple regulatory changes that will hit utilities, from a corporate tax policy overhaul, to revised limits for greenhouse gas emissions and made-in-America efforts that could change pipeline building. Executives from some of the nation's biggest gas and power utilities in the country say those changes are keeping them on their toes.

Alpha Natural Resources divests some of its W.Va. coal, natural gas assets

Alpha Natural Resources Inc. announced it divested substantially all of the assets of two separate operations, a coal mining complex and a natural gas operation. Both assets are in central West Virginia and are expected to be restarted into production. The divestiture is part of Alpha's strategy of selling nonstrategic assets as the company, recently out of bankruptcy, aims to its make its operations leaner.


* President Donald Trump has decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, Axios reports, citing "two sources with direct knowledge of the decision." The president is now working with a small team that includes EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on how the withdrawal will be done.

* Xcel Energy Inc. is asking Colorado regulators to reconsider their decision to require the state's largest utility to weigh broad societal impacts of carbon emissions in energy resource planning. The Public Utilities Commission has agreed to consider Xcel Energy's application for rehearing, reargument or reconsideration at its June 7 meeting, PUC spokesman Terry Bote said by email.

* Exelon Corp.'s Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland is not among its plants that are currently at risk financially, company spokesman Paul Adams told The Baltimore Sun. Adams added that the company is not seeking clean energy incentives for nuclear generation in Maryland, unlike what it wants in Pennsylvania to stop the early retirement of its Three Mile Island facility.

* The City of Springfield, Mo. Utilities Board voted to permanently shut down the first three units of the James River Power Station and retire the remaining two units in the next couple of years, The Springfield News-Leader reports. The first three units have not been in use since 2015, while the last two have not been in use since last summer, the News-Leader adds.

* Abengoa SA is asking a bankruptcy court judge to block the U.S. Department of Energy's effort to recover its investment in the company's $850 million ethanol plant and electricity plant in Kansas, which were never completed, The Wall Street Journal reports.

* Powerex Corp., the energy marketing subsidiary of BC Hydro and Power Authority, will join the western energy imbalance market starting in April 2018, making it the first market participant outside of the United States.

* Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Rob Woodall, R-Ga., are backing Suniva Inc's call to consider tariffs on imported solar panels, according to The Hill, which obtained a copy of the lawmakers' letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission. The bankrupt solar manufacturer has facilities in Kildee and Woodall's districts, the report notes.

* The Oklahoma legislature will not finalize a bill to review the regulatory processes of the state Corporation Commission in anticipation of an executive order from Gov. Mary Fallin doing the same, The Oklahoman reports.

Natural gas/midstream

* A group of Oregon tribes told the developer of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export project that it is unsatisfied with how the company has communicated about concerns over culturally significant land.

* British Columbia's New Democratic Party and Green Party in reaching a power-sharing agreement vowed to review construction of the Site C Clean Energy Project and to "immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion" of the Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Trans Mountain pipeline, the Vancouver Sun reports.

* Western Refining Inc. released preliminary results of shareholders voting for compensation for the company's merger with Tesoro Corp. According to a news release, the cash consideration option of $37.30 for each Western Refining common stock held was oversubscribed and will be prorated under the terms of the merger agreement.

* The WWALS Watershed Coalition asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny any requests to place into service the large Southeast Market Pipelines natural gas infrastructure project, which includes Sabal Trail Transmission LLC's approximately 1.1 Bcf/d pipeline project, in a last-ditch effort to halt the project.

* Noble Midstream Partners LP raised its second-quarter estimated oil and gas gathered volumes to 70,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to 75 MBoe/d. This represents a 7.5% increase from the original second quarter guidance and 15% higher than the first quarter, according to a news release.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will hold a 24-hour online oil and gas lease sale on June 13 for 106 parcels, totaling 196,000 acres in the Battle Mountain District in Nye, Lander and Eureka counties in Nevada. The open bidding period will begin at 10 a.m. CT, according to a news release.


* An analyst with Seaport Global Securities LLC suggests the closely watched quarterly benchmark for metallurgical coal pricing might be a tool of the past.

* In a Bloomberg Television interview, Murray Energy Corp. CEO Robert Murray said President Trump should not listen to his daughter Ivanka Trump, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and other advisers on keeping the country a party to the Paris climate change agreement. "Hopefully he'll listen to those who voted for him and not to some members of his staff," Murray was quoted saying.

* China's Shanxi province pledged to suspend construction of coal mines until 2020, Xinhua News Agency reported May 28.


* Next-day power values could be mixed Wednesday, May 31, as traders consider jumbled demand forecasts for the latter part of the workweek alongside stalled natural gas futures trading activity. Sinking more than 16 cents in the prior session, NYMEX July natural gas were slightly higher early Wednesday ahead of the opening bell. At last look at around 6:30 a.m. ET, the contract was up 0.7-cent to $3.152/MMBtu as market fundamentals remain overwhelmingly bearish.

* After ending its first day in the lead slot down 16.5 cents at $3.145/MMBtu on May 30, NYMEX July natural gas was near unchanged overnight ahead of the Wednesday, May 31, open, as a round of buying amid oversold conditions ran against ongoing fundamental pressure. At 6:35 a.m. ET (1019 GMT), the contract was 0.6 cent higher at $3.151/MMBtu.

* Over-the-counter prices for carbon dioxide allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative were higher during the week ended May 26.

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* On May 19, Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, announced the appointment of James Griffin to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for a term that extends to June 2022. Griffin's term is effective June 5 and is subject to senate confirmation.


"Realities of climate change and shrinking markets for coal are real and ought to be considered. For a federal agency to ignore the huge new body of knowledge acquired since 1979 is just whistling past the graveyard. This is not how a responsible nation operates," said Bob LeResche, chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, urging the Department of the Interior to consider environmental factors in its management of the federal coal leasing program.

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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