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US refuses EU request for softer solar tariffs; railroads consider discounts

Top News

US refuses EU request for softer solar tariffs

The U.S. refused to soften restrictions on imported solar cells and panels from the European Union, which had requested modifications to tariffs President Donald Trump approved in January on the grounds that shipments from EU member countries have not caused "serious injury" to American companies.

Lack of pipelines cuts into oil and gas industry's winnings

The U.S. has oil and natural gas production in spades, but a shortfall in pipeline infrastructure across the country could mess up its hand.

Railroads consider discounts to help stave off decline in coal demand

Major U.S. railroads are considering dynamic freight pricing tied to natural gas markets that would help coal compete in the power generation market.

Power

* Amid ongoing cyberattacks on critical infrastructure in the United States and warnings of an imminent assault on the United Kingdom's power grid, a U.S. senator expressed frustration with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry over perceived inaction by the Trump administration in assessing and responding to threats posed by Russian government-backed hackers.

* U.S. lawmakers maintained an $8.1 billion budget for Environmental Protection Agency in the $1.3 trillion spending bill for fiscal year 2018, rejecting President Donald Trump's proposal to cut it by 31%. The legislation sets aside about $12.92 billion for energy programs, $1.6 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $5.4 billion above the budget request; and $1.2 billion for nuclear energy research and development, a $178 million increase above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $502 million above the budget request.

* Despite opposition, Tesla Inc. stockholders voted to approve a $2.6 billion performance-based stock option award for CEO Elon Musk, according to a Form 8-K filing. About 73% of shareholders cast their votes in favor of approving the award.

* All of the members of Manitoba Hydro's board, with the exception of one government-affiliated member, quit March 21 amid friction between the electricity utility and Premier Brian Pallister over a proposed payment to a Metis group.

* NextEra Energy Resources LLC is looking at building a 300-MW wind farm in northwestern North Dakota, Minot (N.D.) Daily News reported. The project site is where the proposed Hartland wind farm was supposed to be built, but it did not push through due to not having an electricity buyer or an interconnection point, the report noted.

* With solar costs going down, the sunny U.S. Southeast is now embracing the industry, Bloomberg News reported.

* The financial woes of Westmoreland Coal Co. will not impact Public Service Co. of New Mexico customers, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The PNM Resources Inc. subsidiary operates the San Juan Generating Station, which receives coal from a mine operated by Westmoreland.

* The Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill that prohibits utilities from recovering financing costs of their future nuclear power plants until the projects are completed, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle. The state Senate passed the bill in February.

* The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission cleared the indirect transfer of an operating license for Wolf Creek unit 1 nuclear power facility to the new entity resulting from the proposed merger of Westar Energy Inc. and Great Plains Energy Inc.

* S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on Fortis Inc. and its subsidiaries to negative from stable, citing the impact of the U.S. tax reform on the companies' consolidated credit metrics.

* If current trends continue, coal retirements will surpass new capacity by 2022, according to a new report from CoalSwarm, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.

Natural gas/Oil

* Mexico may not be able to take enough natural gas associated with Permian Basin oil wells to prevent the gas system from backing up and cutting crude oil production upstream, analysts said in research notes.

* Governors of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are extending their Tri-State Shale Coalition agreement to maximize the use of shared natural gas resources in the Appalachian Basin.

* U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was looking for March 21's offshore Gulf of Mexico lease sale to give him a clear sign to the oil and gas industry's appetite for offshore drilling in the age of onshore shale, but any signals were mixed.

* A group of Western lawmakers are calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to maintain the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. The lawmakers are also calling for an extended comment period prior to any revision of the rule.

* Sendero Midstream Partners LLC is proposing to build a 220 million cubic feet per day cryogenic natural gas processing plant in southern Eddy County, N.M., where it already operates a 130-MMcf/d gas processing facility, according to the Carlsbad (N.M.) Current-Argus.

* The New Haven, Conn., Board of Alders approved an amendment to the city code of ordinances to include language banning waste associated with hydraulic fracturing, the New Haven Independent reported.

Coal

* Ramaco Resources Inc. on March 21 reported a net loss of $2.6 million, or 7 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2017.

* Critics say federal and state regulators are not doing enough to ensure best safety and environmental practices at Foresight Energy LP's Sugar Camp mine, which continues to expand in Illinois, Midwest Energy News reported.

* The Center for Biological Diversity and Appalachian Mountain Advocates are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allegedly refusing to release records related to coal mining threats to endangered species in West Virginia.

Commodities

* Following a 3.7-cent retreat in the prior session to finish at $2.638/MMBtu, NYMEX April natural gas futures retraced higher overnight ahead of the Thursday, March 22, open and the midmorning release of weekly storage data poised to show a larger-than-average draw from stocks.

* The natural gas inventory report slated for release at 10:30 a.m. ET on March 22 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration could outline a drawdown well above the five-year-average.

* Next-day power values could be pulled lower Thursday, March 22, by the anticipation of declining demand in much of the U.S. at the close of the workweek.

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New from RRA

* On March 19, Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, appointed Jennifer Potter to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for a six-year term that commences July 1, and extends to June 2024.

Quoted

"It makes no sense for us to watch the utility shut down so we can protect some high-margin coal business that's going to be gone in six months if we don't react to the marketplace," CSX Corp. President and CEO James Foote, speaking at an analyst and investor day where he said the railway would aggressively adjust freight pricing to help coal compete in the power generation market.

The day ahead

* The EIA natural gas storage report is due out today.

* The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a business meeting at 10 a.m. ET to consider various nominations.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower 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.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. S&P Global Market Intelligence provides links to external sites where these offer further, relevant information to our readers. While we ensure that such links are functional at the time of publication, we are not responsible in instances where those links are unavailable later. S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.