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Powelson cautions against inciting 'fuel wars'; tax reform boosts coal sector

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Powelson cautions against inciting 'fuel wars'; tax reform boosts coal sector

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FERC's Powelson cautions against inciting 'fuel wars' in grid resilience debate

The focus on grid resilience does not appear to be dying down, even though a contentious rulemaking on the topic was nixed in January. So the conversation must move beyond coal and nuclear to recognize the value that newer technologies bring to the grid, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Robert Powelson said at the Energy Storage Policy Forum on Feb. 14.

Republican congressman sees 'huge' geopolitical impact from LNG export bill

Removing the U.S. Department of Energy from the LNG export permitting process would have a "huge" geopolitical impact, according to a Republican congressman from Ohio who introduced a bill aimed at expediting approvals of gas exports to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the U.S.

An 'effectively zero' tax rate: US coal sector reports big gains from tax reform

Tax reform is boosting the bottom lines of a U.S. coal sector focused on shareholder returns in the wake of bankruptcy reorganizations that scrubbed billions of dollars in debt from their balance sheets.

Power

* Dominion Energy Inc.'s offer to acquire troubled South Carolina company SCANA Corp. is the only "realistic solution" that provides benefits to the state and customers, Dominion's top executives told lawmakers.

* By a 40-26 vote, the New Mexico House approved a bill to reinstate the solar tax credit for rooftop solar that expired in 2016, The Associated Press reported. The bill now goes to state Gov. Susana Martinez's desk for her signature.

* Asset managers and ratings analysts are keeping close tabs on the extent to which climate change could make it harder for states, counties and cities to afford the municipal bonds they often rely on to fund local infrastructure projects.

* George David Banks has resigned as a special assistant to President Donald Trump for international energy and environmental policy after he was denied a permanent security clearance, The Washington Post reported, citing sources close to the matter.

* A domestic manufacturing of offshore wind turbines could help bring down the cost of building new offshore wind projects in the U.S., which will be 45% more expensive than those built in Europe, Bloomberg News reported. Currently, the U.S. does not produce offshore wind turbines.

* Dayton Power and Light Co. is cutting around 60 jobs at two sites in Ohio, including its headquarters, the Dayton Business Journal reported. The layoffs will occur in April.

* The Maryland Energy Administration has started accepting application on what it calls the country's first energy storage tax credit program that is designed to provoke interest in the burgeoning energy storage market in the state.

* An Arizona House of Representatives committee advanced a proposed sales tax exemption for the coal used at the Navajo Generating Station to make the facility "more attractive" for potential acquirers, The Associated Press reported. Peabody Energy Corp. supplies the coal for the power plant.

Natural gas/Oil

* The developer of the proposed 4-million-tonnes-per-annum Texas LNG project is changing the design of its LNG storage tanks to satisfy requests from federal safety regulators.

* TransCanada Corp. decided to move forward with a C$2.4 billion expansion of its NGTL system to connect incremental supply and expand basin export capacity by 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day at the interconnection with its Canadian Mainline.

* President Donald Trump said to be backing an increase of 25 cents per gallon to the gasoline tax to fund his infrastructure spending proposal, Axios reported, citing "two sources with direct knowledge."

* The EQT Midstream Partners LP-led, 2-Bcf/d Mountain Valley pipeline project faces litigation over a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water crossing permit, as the tide of lawsuits continues to swell against large Northeast natural gas pipeline projects approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

* QEP Resources Inc. has rescheduled the release of its fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results to March 1 to allow additional time to finalize its 2018 business plans and strategy. The company was originally scheduled to report its results on Feb. 21.

Coal

* Arch Coal Inc. has not yet made a decision on if or when it will invest capital in expanding a top metallurgical coal asset in West Virginia, though permitting for the project is about 12 months from being complete.

* The second trial on the alleged election-funding scheme led by former Mepco LLC President and CEO James Laurita Jr. will be on April 13, WAJR reported. The first trial ended in mistrial after a jury deadlocked in its deliberations.

* Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., introduced a bill that would incentivize coal refuse clean up by giving tax credits to power plants that burn the waste as fuel.

* NACCO Industries Inc., the operating holding company for North American Coal Corp., announced that is buying back up to $25 million of its outstanding class A common stock through Dec. 31, 2019.

Commodities

* The natural gas inventory report to be released at 10:30 a.m. ET on Feb. 15 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration is expected to show a storage withdrawal above both the year-ago and five-year-average levels.

* After slipping by 0.7 cent to settle at $2.587/MMBtu in the prior session, NYMEX March natural gas futures attempted gains overnight only to resume the retreat ahead of the Thursday, Feb. 15, open, despite the midmorning release of the storage data poised to show a ramped-up rate of weekly stock withdrawals.

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New from RRA

* In a recent rate case decision issued by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, American Electric Power Co. Inc. subsidiary Kentucky Power Co. was authorized a $12.3 million electric base rate increase. The new rates took effect immediately.

Quoted

"The biggest challenge to the reliability of the grid," said ISO New England's annual report on trends and challenges, referring to constrained supplies of natural gas.

The day ahead

* 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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