FERC's Bay: Transition team knew I would leave; chair swap got lost in the mail
In an exclusive interview, former FERC Chairman Norman Bay said he told President Donald Trump's transition team that he would probably leave if he was replaced as the commission's leader, and when the news did come that Cheryl LaFleur would take over as acting chair, both learned of the transition two days after the fact because the notice was sent to the wrong address.
ONEOK joins MLP simplification trend, on prowl for next deal
ONEOK Inc. joined the crowd of holding companies merging with their MLPs to eliminate the need to push cash upstream as incentive payments to the parent. Early Feb. 1, ONEOK said it was buying the remaining public stake of ONEOK Partners LP it did not already own for $9.3 billion in company stock.
Obama official who led stream rule: Congress waging 'war against coal country'
Former U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Director Joseph Pizarchik saw one of his agency's most controversial regulations across the finish line only weeks ago. Now, Congress is sprinting to get it off the books.
* Digital cyberattacks on the power grid so far have failed to leave America in the dark, but utilities and grid operators are preparing for that day so they can quickly respond, industry experts told a Congressional panel.
* Black Hills Corp. reported fourth-quarter 2016 adjusted net income available for common stock of $58.2 million, or $1.07 per share, missing the S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the quarter of $1.13. The result compares to adjusted net income of $33.5 million, or 71 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2015.
* Affordable Solar, in partnership with PNM Resources Inc., will build three solar farms to support Facebook Inc.'s new high-tech data center in New Mexico. The first solar farm is projected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2018, according to a news release.
* North Dakota Rep. Roscoe Streyle introduced legislation that would impose a tax on wind generation at $1.50/MWh and a tax equal to 10% of the facility's production tax credit, the Minot (N.D.) Daily News reports.
* China is expected to triple its nuclear power capacity to 100 GW by 2026, overtaking the U.S. as the biggest market of nuclear power, Bloomberg News reports, citing BMI Research. The country added 8 GW of nuclear power capacity in 2016.
* Duke Energy Ohio Inc. intends to file with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for a review of its electric distribution rates on March 2, following its deployment of smart grid technologies across its service territory.
* Tesla Motors Inc. has officially changed its corporate name to Tesla Inc., according to a Form 8-K filing. The change was effective Feb. 1.
* Vanguard Natural Resources LLC and certain of its subsidiaries filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions for relief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas after reaching a restructuring support agreement with certain senior note holders, according to a company filing.
* Analysts believe Energy Transfer Partners LP could receive the missing easement for construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in a matter of days. Height Securities analysts said in a Feb. 1 note that they expect the easement this week, with construction beginning soon after.
* EV Energy Partners LP completed its $58.7 million purchase of Eagle Ford oil and natural gas properties in Karnes County, Texas, representing estimated proved reserves of about 6.4 MMboe. The partnership also closed the $52.1 million sale of a portion of its Barnett Shale natural gas properties, representing estimated proved reserves of 94.6 Bcf of dry gas and about 3.0 MMcfpd of natural gas production.
* The U.S. Senate voted 56 to 43 to confirm former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson as President Donald Trump's secretary of state. Three Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and one independent, Sen. Angus King of Maine, joined Republicans in voting to confirm Tillerson, who needed a 51-vote majority to be confirmed.
* Suncor Energy Inc. closed the sale of its Petro-Canada Lubricants Inc. business to a HollyFrontier Corp. subsidiary for C$1.13 billion, subject to customary closing adjustments. With the acquisition, HollyFrontier becomes the fourth-largest lubricants producer in North America with a capacity of 28,000 barrels per day, or approximately 10% of North American production, it said in a statement.
* Attorney Carolyn Elefant, spokesperson for Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline project intervenor Geraldine Nesbitt, said Williams Cos. Inc.'s move to seek FERC approval of the controversial project by Feb. 3 is "an attempt to sidestep due process in such cases posing risks to the environment and to historic cultural treasures in addition to abusive use of Federal eminent domain power."
* The U.S. House of Representatives voted Feb. 1 to repeal the Interior Department's Stream Protection Rule for coal producers, as well as financial reporting requirements for oil and gas companies. The bills are part of Republican efforts to rescind recent Obama administration rules using the Congressional Review Act.
* Landowners and environmental groups are charging that Ramaco LLC's plans for a new mine in Wyoming are contradictory, creating a new roadblock for the proposed Powder River Basin operation.
* Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby, who led the prosecution that resulted in the conviction of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, has joined Bailey & Glasser LLP as a partner at the firm's Charleston, W.Va., office, according to a news release.
* Danish company DONG Energy has decided to phase out the use of coal at all of its power stations by 2023. "The future belongs to renewable energy sources, and therefore we're now converting the last of our coal-fired power stations to sustainable biomass," said CEO Henrik Poulsen in a statement.
* As the Commodity Futures Trading Commission hobbles into a new era under a Trump administration, two former commissioners at the agency are looking ahead to fewer regulations and more controlled enforcement in commodity markets.
* March natural gas futures turned higher at midweek Wednesday, Feb. 1, with buying triggered at the lows. The contract touched a $3.113/MMBtu low in overnight trade that triggered buying to a $3.228/MMBtu intraday high and a settlement up 5.1 cents at $3.168/MMBtu.
* Strong Thursday demand forecasts and a rebound in spot natural gas prices helped push next-day power markets across the country higher on Wednesday, Feb. 1. After two consecutive sessions of losses, the front-month March natural gas futures contract returned to the positive side of the ledger Wednesday and added 5.1 cents to settle at $3.168/MMBtu.
New from RRA
* On Jan. 27, South Jersey Gas Co. filed with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for a $87.7 million, or 18.5%, gas distribution base rate increase. The requested increase is premised upon an 11.0% return on equity and a 7.66% return on a year-end rate base valued at $1.635 billion for a test year ending Aug. 31.
"Those operators who are responsible and restoring all the land uses for reforesting the land and preventing the destruction of streams, they stand to benefit from this by not being undercut by those bad actors who are willing to destroy water resources, not put the land back to its uses and put corporate profits over coal country and the people who live there," said former U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Director Joseph Pizarchik about the Stream Protection Rule.
The day ahead
* The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a business meeting at 10:15 a.m. ET to consider the nomination of Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator.
* The following companies will hold their fourth-quarter 2016 earnings conference calls: Brookfield Renewable Partners LP and CMS Energy Corp. at 9 a.m. ET; MDU Resources Group Inc., Valero Energy Partners LP and Xcel Energy Inc. at 10 a.m. ET; EQT Corp. at 10:30 a.m. ET; Black Hills at 11 a.m. ET; EQT GP Holdings LP and EQT Midstream Partners LP at 11:30 a.m. ET; Magellan Midstream Partners LP at 1:30 p.m. ET; and Unitil Corp. at 2 p.m. ET.
* The following companies will hold their fiscal first-quarter 2017 earnings conference calls: AmeriGas Partners LP, Suburban Propane Partners LP and UGI Corp. at 9 a.m. ET and Star Gas Partners LP at 11 a.m. ET.
* The EIA natural gas storage report is due out today.
* 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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