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In This List

Coal shifts campaign spending to state level; Berkshire Hathaway bids for Oncor

Essential Energy Insights - September, 2020

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

Bull market leaves US utilities behind in August

Utilities, midstream reckon with energy transformation on the horizon


Coal shifts campaign spending to state level; Berkshire Hathaway bids for Oncor

Top news

TheLong Island Power Authorityboard of directors is expected to approve a contract with to build what wouldbecome the largest U.S. offshore wind farm. LIPA CEO Thomas Falcone, in aninterview with The Associated Press published July 14, said the board isexpected at its upcoming meeting July 20 to approve the 90-MW, 15-turbineDeepwater One-South Fork project that will be about 30 miles southeast ofMontauk, N.Y., off the eastern end of Long Island.

The21% dividend cut at Plains AllAmerican Pipeline LP and simplification with its general partnerhave not been enough to assuage concerns about the oil transportation-focusedpartnership's leverage and longer-term EBITDA growth targets. The simplification deal withgeneral partner Plains GPHoldings LP will increase Plains All American's long-term debt by$606 million, a detail that S&P Global Ratings Director Michael Grandepointed out in an interview.

Asthe second quarter ground to a close, coal company political action committeesand industry advocates continued to fund Republican candidates with fewexceptions, with two moving significant attention to state-level races.According to data compiled by the U.S. Federal Election Commission, a number ofthese PACs continued contributions even as the companies that sponsored themnavigated federal bankruptcy courts.

Power

*Berkshire Hathaway Inc.has emerged as the latest bidder for OncorElectric Delivery Co. LLC, BloombergNews reported, citing sources close to the matter. Warren Buffett's companywill compete with NextEra EnergyInc., and other companies vyingto reach a deal for Energy FutureHoldings Corp.'s electric transmission and distribution arm.Separately, Reutersreports that Fidelity Investments has engaged other Energy Future creditors tobid for Oncor.

*Rothschild Inc. Managing Director Homer Parkhill, whosefirm is advising SunEdison Inc.in its bankruptcy proceedings, has revised upward the estimate for SunEdison'sassets to $1 billion to $1.5 billion, from the previous of $850 million, BloombergNews reports. The new estimate takes into account the recent non-bindingoffers for the assets and an upward trend in the shares of the company's twoyieldcos, TerraForm Power Inc.and TerraForm Global Inc.

*The New England Power Generators Association has warned that a in Massachusetts couldthreaten the existence of two New England nuclear plants, namely 's2,150.7-MW Millstonefacility in Connecticut and NextEra Energy's 1,246.7-MW facility in NewHampshire, BloombergNews reports. The bill would require utilities within the state to procure2,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 12.5 million MWh of a mix ofhydropower and new Class I renewables by 2019.

*The California ISOrecorded a new solar production of 8,030 MW at 1:06 p.m. ET on July 12 — nearly2,000 MW higher than in May 2015 and twice the amount of solar energy producedin mid-2014, according to news release.

*The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects naturalgas-fired generation in the U.S. to provide an average of 3.8 million MWh perday this year, a 4% year-over-year increase. The agency also expects monthlygas-fired generation to reach record highs in July and August due to increasedelectricity demand.

*SaskPower plansto invest about C$1.2 billion this fiscal year to upgrade Saskatchewan'selectrical system to meet growing demand. Afterwards, the company will investabout C$1 billion a year on capital projects to renew and maintain agingfacilities, lines and poles as well as the necessary infrastructure.Separately, SaskPower has been given the green light to build and operate a350-MW combined-cycle, natural gas-fired facility in Swift Current,Saskatchewan, at an estimated cost of C$700 million, the Leader-Postof Regina, Saskatchewan, reports. The project is expected to go online byOctober 2019.

*Public Service Co. of Oklahomahas won approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for a monthly opt-outfee of $28 for smart meters and a one-time fee of $71 before the end of 2016that will increase to $110 on Jan. 1, 2017, TheOklahoman reports.

*Apex Clean Energy hassold a majority stake in a 217-MW wind and solar portfolio in Texas toNorthleaf Capital Partners Ltd.for an undisclosed sum. Apex and Northleaf also arranged debt financing and taxequity commitments for the 50.4-MW Cotton Plains and 151.2-MW Old Settler windfacilities as well as the 15.4-MW AC Phantom solar facility, according to a newsrelease.

Natural gas/midstream

*Pipeline companies, including , Keyera Corp. and Pembina Pipeline Corp., are said to be interested inacquiring Williams Cos. Inc.'sCanadian unit, Reutersreports. Williams has engaged Barclays Plc and Toronto Dominion Bank to assistin the sale process, which could bring the company up to $2 billion.

*The California Public Utilities Commission shot down utilities' proposedNorth-South gas pipeline expansion project. The CPUC concluded that there werea number of other viable optionsthat would be far less costly to ratepayers but could provide equivalentreliability improvements, agreeing with an administrative law judge's Aprilrecommendations.

*TransCanada Corp. hascome under scrutiny after the NationalObserver reported that former Quebec premier Jean Charest met with membersof Canada's National Energy Board to discuss how best to move the pipelineoperator's proposed Energy East pipeline forward. Charest held discussionswhile on the payroll of the company, the publication reported. Meanwhile, fourlabor unions have come insupport of the Energy East project to ship about 1.1 million barrels of oilper day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Eastern Canadian refineries in Québecand New Brunswick.

*BP plc expects torecord a second-quarter 2016 after-tax, nonoperating charge of about $2.5billion in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil , bringing the total after-taxcharge to about $44 billion. The oil giant expects to continue to use proceedsof asset sales to meet Deepwater Horizon commitments, according to a newsrelease.

Coal

*West VirginiaUniversity's latest look at its state's coal forecast for the industry'sshort- and long-term prospects. The report is projecting West Virginia's 2016production to fall to 68 million tons. That is down from 158 million tons in2008 and 95 million tons in 2015.

*Chinese coal production fell 9.7% year over year to 1.63 billion tons duringthe first six months of the year, though imports of the fossil fuel were up8.2% during the same period, BloombergNews reported, citing the country's National Bureau of Statistics.

*Total U.S. coal rail deliveries for the week ended July 9 were down 23.4% yearover year to 72,998 carloads, accordingto data from the Association of American Railroads. Year-to-datecoal rail deliveries remain down by one-third, or a 30.2% contraction this weekcompared to 2015 levels, which could mark 2016 as having the largest U.S. coalproduction decline since the beginning of record keeping in 1949.

Commodities

*Over-the-counter pricesfor California carbon allowances edgedhigher heading into the middle of July. Carbon allowance prices atthe secondary market in California advanced after the California Air ResourcesBoard released July 12 a preliminary draft proposal that would allow forchanges to the state's cap-and-trade program, including the implementation ofnew emissions caps post-2020.

* TotalU.S. natural gas demand was bolsteredby stronger power burn during the week ended July 13, while supplyheld flat, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its latest "NaturalGas Weekly Update" released July 14. Overall gas consumption in the U.S.rose from an average of 59.1 Bcf/d in the prior week to 62.0 Bcf/d in thecurrent review period to reflect a 5% gain week on week, attributed to a boostin power-sector gas demand during the report period.

*After ending the prior session 1 cent lower at $2.727/MMBtu, August natural gasfutures were little changedovernight ahead of the Friday, July 15, open, as uncertainty driven by duelingfundamentals continue to plague the market. The contract was last 0.6 centlower at $2.721/MMBtu in muted trade.

*Power dailies could end the workweek jumbledFriday, July 15, as expectations for diverging demand coming off the weekendconspire with indecisive front-month natural gas futures. Losing 1.0-cent inthe prior trading day, August natural gas futures were extending lower earlyFriday ahead of the opening bell. At last look, the front-month contract wasdown 1.1 cents to $2.716/MMBtu on light profit-taking ahead of the weekendbreak.

New from RRA

*On July 11, andWestar Energy Inc.filed an applicationfor Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of Great Plain's proposedacquisition of Westar in a cash-and-stock deal worth $8.6 billion.

Quoted

"NoDistrict utility customer will ever bear any cost associated with our nuclearplants. Period," ExelonCorp. President and CEO Chris Crane in testimony to the District ofColumbia Council.

The day ahead

*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.