Moody'swarns that "persistently low natural gas prices" have placed several coaland nuclear power plants at risk of closure, with merchant generatorsscrambling to cut costs. "Gas prices by far have the mostdominant effect on the unregulated power sector in the US," Moody's saidin a report.
AsCanadian shoppers forgo trips to the U.S. because of the gap between thecountries' currencies, TransCanada Corp. stepped up to a US$13 billiontransaction in March in a show of cross-border bravado. But timing is everything.TransCanada's March 17 announcement of its plan to buy coincidedwith what was then the 2016 high for Canada's currency — known as the looniefor the bird depicted on the C$1 coin — and has the potential to trim US$350million off the cash portion of the transaction compared with the Canadiandollar's low in January.
TransCanadaCorp. on April 10 began a controlled restart of the Keystone oil pipeline, alittle more than a week after a leak was discovered in South Dakota. Followingrestart approval by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials SafetyAdministration, Keystone is operating at a reduced pressure, TransCanada saidin an emailed statement.
Earlycoal production data for the first quarter of 2016 signals a collapse in output from thecountry's largest and most active basins, with Northern Appalachian and PowderRiver basin mines showing the sharpest drops over the same period in 2015.
* Inwhat appears to be another blow to SunEdison Inc., D.E. Shaw Composite Holdings LLC andMadison Dearborn Capital Partners IV LP are claiming that the struggling renewable energy companyowes plaintiffs about $231 million in earnout payments in connection with theFirst Wind HoldingsInc. acquisition. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgmentthat TerraForm PowerLLC and TerraFormPower Inc. would be liable for, and required to pay immediately,the accelerated earnout payment under the deal following any SunEdisonbankruptcy.
*Separately, TerraForm Power is facing class-action lawsuits from GaineyMcKenna & Egleston and Khang &Khang LLP for allegedly violating the federal securities laws between May7, 2015, and March 15, 2016.
*Kansas utilityWestar Energy Inc. isdrawing takeoverinterest from AmerenCorp. and a Canadian investor consortium made up of Toronto-basedBorealis InfrastructureManagement and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Bloomberg Newsreported, citing "people familiar with the matter."
*Nebraska lawmakers advanced a measure that seeks to encourage"aggressive" private development of wind farms in the state and wouldallow the free flow of Nebraska wind power to out-of-state markets, TheOmaha (Neb.) World-Herald reports.
*NextEra Energy Inc.subsidiary NextEra EnergyResources LLC won a permit from Hettinger County, N.D., officialsfor its planned 150-MW Brady Wind II project, TheBismarck (N.D.) Tribune reports. Output from the project is contractedto Basin Electric PowerCooperative under a 30-year contract.
*The U.S. NRC said it has issued a confirmatoryorder to Entergy OperationsInc. in connection with certain violations at the 1,178-MWWaterford 3 nuclear power plant in Saint Charles County, La. The subsidiary hasagreed to a series of actions to fix violations that involved workers' failureto perform fire inspections and falsified records.
* said ithas closed the purchase of a 26.4-MW solar power plant in Uruguay fromSolarpack Corporación Tecnológica SL. The SunEdison yieldco paid $35.4 millionto acquire the Alto Cielo plant, which reached commercial operation in March 2016,according to a company filing.
*Jordan Cove Energy ProjectLP and PacificConnector Gas Pipeline LP have filed a request with FERC seekingrehearing of the commission's March 11 order that their applications forauthorization to build and operate an LNG terminal and a related gas pipeline, said in a .
*WPX Energy Inc. has completedthe sale of its WPX Energy RockyMountain LLC subsidiary to Terra Energy Partners LLC for $910million. The company plans to deploy the proceeds on leverage reduction,additional drilling, infrastructure investments and buying out of any retainedtransportation obligations.
*The Iowa Utilities Board has issueda key permit for Energy TransferPartners LP's planned Dakota Access crude oil pipeline . Theproposed 1,168-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline will connect the Bakkenand Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill.
*Connecticut is thinking about making direct connections between natural gasinfrastructure and electric power generators a requirement for any new gasprojects supported by state-approved contracts, a move that the proposed AccessNortheast pipeline project.
* PomerantzLLP and BrowerPiven filed class-action lawsuits against and certain of itsofficers on behalf of investors who purchased the company's stock between May14, 2015, and Nov. 23, 2015. The lawsuits seek to recover damages for allegedviolations of the federal securities laws in connection with the natural gasleak at the company's Aliso Canyon storage facility in California.
*Fearing a future where fossil fuels are further entrenched in the global energysystem, climate activist Bill McKibben is doubling down on his criticism of the oil and gasindustry.
*The U.S. Department of Justice is urgingthe U.S. Surface Transportation Board to reject 'sproposed voting trust structure in connection with its planned with , sayingthe structure risks irreversibly harming competition. "Canadian Pacific'svoting trust proposal would compromise Norfolk Southern's independence andeffectively combine the two railroads prior to completion of the STB'sreview," Bill Baer, assistant attorney general of DOJ's antitrustdivision. "That makes no sense. We urge the STB to preserve its ability toreview the impact of the proposal on competition and consumers before [CP]starts scrambling the eggs."
*West Virginia University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs JoyceMcConnell says the university has a moral obligation to for an economicfuture in West Virginia that could include less coal.
* Anadministrative law judge ruled that Murray Energy Corp. and engaged inunfair labor practices by discharging employees on the basis of as"insubordination" or use of profane, obscene, abusive or threateninglanguage.
*After a settle 2.8 cents lower at $1.990/MMBtu ahead of the weekend, Maynatural gas futures extendedlosses in overnight trading leading up to the Monday, April 11,open, as revisions to weather projections showing widespread warming thatspelled lackluster demand in the coming weeks combined with healthy supplies.
*Day-ahead power values could open the new workweek tethered to the Monday, April 11, asprospects for predominantly softer demand as the week unfolds conspire withongoing weakness at the natural gas futures arena.
*Hydropower productionin the northwestern U.S. was above average in March and increased by nearly a thirdversus the priormonth to bring year-to-date figures above historical averages. But year-to-datetotals are below year-ago levels, implying a healthier water year for theregion.
*Spot natural gas pricesalong Transcontinental Gas PipeLine Co. LLC declined year over year during the week ended April 7as falling off-system deliveries nearly offset increased residential and commercialdeliveries from the pipeline.
New from RRA
*As part of its March 23order approving the acquisition of Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC by a consortium ofinvestors led by HuntConsolidated Inc., the Public Utility Commission of Texas ruledthat a lease agreement that would govern the relationship between Oncor and ato-be-created affiliate that would own the company's distribution assetsconstituted a tariff and as such, the specifics of the lease must be approvedby the PUC before the transaction can be consummated.
"Tobe clear, the PUCO's decision under Ohio state law to endorse thecustomer-funded bailout of [the utilities] in no way relieves this commissionof its statutory duty to protect wholesale markets for the sake of Ohioans andconsumers in the 12 other states and the District of Columbia that make up thePJM region," the Electric Power Supply Association , urging FERC to weigh in on thepower purchase agreements approved by Ohio regulators between regulated andcompetitive internal affiliates of American Electric Power and FirstEnergy Corp.
The day ahead
*The LDC Gas Forums Southeast conference kicks off in Atlanta on April 11 andruns through April 13.