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Perry grilled over cyber strategy; FERC asked to review PennEast pipe approval


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Perry grilled over cyber strategy; FERC asked to review PennEast pipe approval

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Senators grill Perry over proposed DOE research cuts, cyber strategy

A panel of U.S. Senate lawmakers told Energy Secretary Rick Perry they are concerned with the U.S. Department of Energy's proposed spending cuts for research programs and asked whether the DOE is doing enough to protect the grid from cyberattacks.

PennEast pipeline opponents push FERC to re-examine approval

Pipeline opposition groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its approval of PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC's 1.1-Bcf/d natural gas transportation project.

Knight Hawk is 'sold out' on projected 2018 coal production of 5 million tons

Knight Hawk Coal LLC is "effectively sold out" on projected record production of at least 5 million tons in 2018, CEO Steve Carter said March 19.


* The long debate over the fate of California's last operating nuclear plant neared its end in January when the California Public Utilities Commission approved the retirement of Diablo Canyon when its current operating licenses expire. The license for unit one expires in 2024, and unit 2 expires in 2025.

* Natural gas and coal generation dropped by 7.7% and 2.5%, respectively, in 2017 from 2016, as generation from renewable sources increased year over year. Total U.S. net electricity generation fell 1.5% in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

* South Carolina utility Santee Cooper recorded a $4.21 billion impairment in 2017 after writing off the construction costs and nuclear fuel for the scrapped V.C. Summer nuclear reactors.

* Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is pushing for the passage of his administration's environmental protection and resiliency bills, which call for implementing an interim goal of reducing greenhouse emissions 45% from a 2001 baseline by 2030 and increasing the renewable portfolio standard to 40% by the same year.

* During a budget hearing, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that nuclear industry's challenges such as power plant closures are "geographic" ones and not national ones, the Washington Examiner reported.

* The U.S. Justice Department's Environmental and Natural Resources Division is conducting a criminal investigation of the Red Horse 2 Wind Farm in Cochise County, Ariz., over the killings of at least 190 birds, including a golden eagle, as well as an endangered bat, according to conservative free-market advocacy group The Heartland Institute.

* In a ruling that may bring on a feeling of déjà vu, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's revision to its regional haze rule to reflect the replacement of the Clean Air Interstate Rule, noting that it rejected many of the same arguments in previous cases.

* Bloom Energy Corp. is again considering plans to go public, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing "two people familiar with the situation." An IPO could happen as early as May, according to the report.

* The U.S. has rejected proposals by the European Union for alternatives to its solar safeguard tariffs, Reuters reported, citing a World Trade Organization filing.

* Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. signed an agreement to purchase all the output of Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.'s planned 100-MW Crossett solar farm in Ashley County, Ark.

Natural gas/Oil

* Ethane crackers built in the Ohio River Valley will return four times the value of similar plants on the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to a new report released by the Shale Crescent USA economic development group March 20.

* The Army Corps of Engineers told U.S. District Judge James Boasberg that it needs more time to finish the environmental study of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

* Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is proposing technical corrections to the petroleum refinery sector risk and technology review and the new source performance standards that would result to cost savings of up to $11.5 million for refineries.

* A federal district court in Alaska is allowing a challenge by conservation and Alaska Native groups to the Trump administration's reversal of the Arctic and Atlantic drilling ban to move forward.

* The Florida Constitution Revision Commission is set to decide by May whether to include an offshore drilling ban in the state's constitution, WMNF reported.

* Complainants on falsified pipeline endorsements have yet to receive a response from federal regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Susan Dio, the chief executive of BP Shipping, will succeed John Mingé as chairman and president of BP America Inc., effective May 1. Mingé is going to chair a study by the National Petroleum Council into carbon capture utilization and storage technologies and their potential deployment, and will retire from BP in March 2019.

* While exploration and production companies pressure oilfield service companies to maintain low rates, fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 earnings reported by well service providers indicate market conditions could be recovering from a three-year downturn.

* S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC to negative from stable, citing heightened recontracting risk over the next 12 months to 18 months.


* PNM Resources Inc. is continuing to investigate a fire that occurred on March 17 at its San Juan Generating Station near Farmington, N.M., that caused the plant's smallest generating unit to be taken offline.

* The SEC said the District Court in Manhattan, N.Y., should deny a motion by Rio Tinto and two of its former executives to dismiss fraud charges filed against them in relation to coal assets in Mozambique, Reuters reported.


* The United States is expected to be a net exporter of natural gas in each month remaining in 2018 as well as each month of 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as pipeline exports to Mexico continue to grow along with LNG export capacity.

* After climbing by 2.4 cents in the prior session to settle at $2.675/MMBtu, NYMEX April natural gas futures meandered overnight before reaching higher ahead of the Wednesday, March 21, open, as market participants considered choppy fundamentals.

* Following a mostly lower session March 20, daily power market prices across the U.S. could chop around Wednesday, March 21, against a backdrop of varied demand outlooks for the latter part of the week.

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* In a letter to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on March 16, Avista Corp. and Hydro One Ltd. announced a settlement in principle has been reached regarding the companies' proposed merger.


"I am aware that many of you doubt that this can ever actually be a long-term success at Volkswagen," said Volkswagen AG CEO Matthias Mueller at a press conference in Berlin, acknowledging skepticism toward the automaker's effort to become a leader in electric vehicles in the wake of the emissions fraud that cost the company billions of dollars in vehicle recalls, settlements, criminal and civil penalties.

The day ahead

* The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled "Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission" at 10 a.m. ET.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed 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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