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July 18-22: Kinder Morgan inches closer to dividend; EPA haze rule stayed

A brief look backat successes and setbacks in the energy industry.

Highs

KINDER MORGAN — Kinder MorganInc. Chairman and co-founder Richard Kinder told analysts and investorsJuly 20 that the company is on trackto cut debt as it moves closer to either increasing the dividend or buying backshares. Kinder Morgan reportedflat second-quarter net income and has set a target of 5.0x debt-to-EBITDA as astarting point for increasing its dividend. The call was held shortly after theHouston-headquartered pipeline and terminal owner announced it will in its Southeast pipelinenetwork to Southern Co.

ACCESS NORTHEAST ­— The Maine Public Utilities Commission on July 19 a plan to allowelectric distribution companies to purchase capacity on natural gas pipelines inISO New England Inc.,if neighboring states also support the proposal. In addition, the commission endorsedSpectra Energy Corp'sAccess Northeast pipeline and storageproject, thus allowing utilities to start gas supply contract negotiationswith Spectra.

Between

ELON MUSK — Tesla Motors Inc.Chairman and CEO Elon Musk on July 20 unveiled a new "master plan" that defended the rationale and timingof the company's proposed takeoverof rooftop solar developer SolarCityCorp. Musk, in his manifesto posted on Tesla's website, said "thetime has come" to bring the company's Powerwall home energy storage technology together with SolarCity'srooftop solar business.

NEXTERA ­— Wall Street's outlook on NextEraEnergy Inc. is largelyunfazed after the company endedits long-running pursuit of HawaiianElectric Industries Inc. NextEra on July 18 terminated its bid to acquireHawaiian Electric after the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission the planned merger.

Lows

EPA — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit of theU.S. EPA's regional haze rule in Texas, slamming the agency for causing years ofdelay and for failing to consider grid reliability impacts of the rule. Texas AttorneyGeneral Ken Paxton hailed the court's decision, asserting that implementation ofthe rule would have imposed $2 billion in costs without achieving any visibilityimprovements. Some independent power producer stocks have fallen since the decision came down, due to investorconcern the ruling could delay some coal plant retirements in Texas that would tightenthe Electric Reliability Council ofTexas Inc. market and improve prices there.

AVANGRID— Shares of Avangrid Inc.declined July 19 afterthe company reported second-quarter results that came up well short of consensus estimates. Avangrid reportedsecond-quarter adjusted net income of $100 million, or 32 cents per share, comparedto the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate of 46 cents. Addressing analysts onthe earnings call, Avangrid management touted the company's capital spending plan for projects aimed at upgrading infrastructureand improving reliability.

HALLIBURTON— Halliburton Co., hammeredby the $3.5 billion termination fee after its failed merger with , on July 20 , or$3.73 per share, for the second quarter. CEO David Lesar, however, expressed optimismin a turnaround for Halliburton and the North American E&P industry as a whole."Our customers are thinking about growing their business again rather thanbeing focused on survival," he said.

FIRSTENERGY— FirstEnergy Corp. announcedJuly 22 it will abandon856 MW of coal-fired capacity in Ohio by shutting down four units at its 2,210-MWW.H. Sammis coal plantand selling or deactivating its 136-MW BayShore unit by 2020. The decision is based on challenging market conditionsand could signal a broader strategicshift around the company's merchant business.