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Old mines could host new renewables; Maryland denies permit for gas pipe project

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


Old mines could host new renewables; Maryland denies permit for gas pipe project

Top News

Potential seen for old mines to host new renewables

Advocacy group the Rocky Mountain Institute partnered with Australian mining giant BHP Group Ltd. to redevelop 22 legacy mine sites in the U.S. to host renewable energy production, zeroing in on six locations in the Southwest as their first targets.

Maryland denies easement, blocking route of Columbia Gas pipeline project

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the state Board of Public Works voted against a permit for a 47,500-Dth/d Columbia Gas Transmission LLC natural gas pipeline project that would cross state land on a short route from Pennsylvania to a West Virginia utility.

Market monitor challenges PJM's failure to levy fuel cost policy penalty

Asserting that the case "presents an important precedent for the role of fuel cost policies" in guarding against market power abuse, the PJM Interconnection's independent market monitor asked federal regulators to find that an unidentified seller violated such a policy and therefore should have been assessed a penalty.

Federal agencies respond to accident involving loaded coal barges on Ohio River

Federal agencies are responding to a tug and barge accident that dumped coal into the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky.

Quoted

"Santee Cooper sought to keep the project on track and within budget and made multiple proposals to [South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., or SCE&G] to improve project oversight and performance and protect the project from a potential [Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC] bankruptcy. SCE&G, which was responsible for managing the project, ignored Santee Cooper's proposals," according to a counter-lawsuit filed by South Carolina Public Service Authority, commonly known as Santee Cooper, against SCE&G for breach of contract and gross negligence tied to the July 2017 abandonment of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion.

Power

* The U.S. power and natural gas sectors could face a tumultuous 2019 as a new lineup at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission works through a wide-ranging, politically charged agenda that involves competitive wholesale power markets, taxes, transportation rates and infrastructure permitting.

* PG&E Corp. is facing a lawsuit over its alleged involvement in the November 2013 fire that destroyed Calpine Corp.'s McCabe power facility, The Wall Street Journal reported. The suit, which was filed by Calpine subsidiary Geysers Power Co., alleges that the fire caused the company more than $20 million in damages.

* Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt has reportedly taken over as the acting head of the Interior Department after Ryan Zinke left the agency Jan. 2, Bloomberg News reported, citing "a person familiar with the matter."

* Action on pending legal battles and federal rules, pressure from investors, and efforts by states to curb transportation emissions will help determine whether the U.S. makes headway in addressing climate change in 2019.

* Public Service Co. of New Mexico expects to record a pretax impairment of about $33 million on its investment in the San Juan coal plant as of Dec. 31, 2018. The utility also anticipates an estimated $40 million increase in its liability for mine reclamation, resulting in a pretax loss of about $30 million for the surface mine that serves the plant.

* Enbridge Inc.'s New Creek Wind Farm in Grant County, W.Va., is facing lawsuits for allegedly having "negative effects" on residents from the noise of its turbines, according to West Virginia Record.

Natural gas

* Despite Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC's warnings that the current court schedule could delay the 600-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d natural gas project, a federal appeals court declined to speed the pace for briefing and oral argument for a challenge to federal endangered species permitting.

* An analysis of around 16,000 wells by The Wall Street Journal finds that two-thirds of the projections made by oil and gas firms between 2014 and 2017 in the nation’s four leading drilling regions were “overly optimistic,” as the wells are producing less than the drillers projected to their investors.

* A trade group for the natural gas pipeline industry asked FERC to revise its draft guidance for pipeline developers submitting horizontal directional drilling plans during the federal review process.

* The U.S. LNG industry is projected to experience a record year of growth, especially in the first half of 2019, with at least three projects getting the green light from developers, the Houston Chronicle reported.

* Two Pennsylvania state senators introduced a legislative package to reform the state's pipeline regulatory process to improve safety at schools and in local neighborhoods and communities. The bipartisan package consists of 12 bills, sponsored by state Sens. Andy Dinniman and Tom Killion.

* The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board announced the permanent closure of ExxonMobil Canada Ltd.'s Sable natural gas field off the coast of Nova Scotia after about 20 years in operation, The Canadian Press reported.

Oil

* Broader markets erased heavy losses earlier in the day in trading on Jan. 2 thanks to a surge in oil prices and a rally among energy equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with an increase of 0.08% to finish at 23,346.24, and the S&P 500 edged up 0.13% to settle at 2,510.03.

* Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested a legal opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel regarding the constitutionality of the recent legislation for Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 pipeline project and the new Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority created by outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder.

* Plains All American Pipeline LP, BP Oil Pipeline Co. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. intend to launch a binding open season in January for the reversal of the 40-inch, 1.2 million-barrel-per-day Capline crude oil pipeline, the companies announced Jan. 2.

* North Dakota Judge John Grinsteiner denied TigerSwan's request for reimbursement of at least $165,000 in attorney fees related to a case concerning protests over the Dakota Access oil pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

* Three oil production tanks caught fire near a Noble Energy Inc. well site in the Permian Basin in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported. The company said it will carry out an investigation to determine the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported.

Coal

* Attorneys working on energy-related litigation involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are beginning to feel the effects of the impasse over funding for portions of the federal government.

* A federal judge appointed a special commissioner to help an insurance company collect a judgment that has gone unpaid by a coal company run by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

ChartWatch

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Barclays Capital Inc. and Evercore Group LLC advised on the most corporate M&A deals in the North American energy pipeline sector in 2018, with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC trailing not far behind when it came to advising the most parties involved in buying, selling or standing up midstream companies.

New from RRA

* The regulatory agenda in January is expected to be active for the electric and natural gas utilities, although the pace of activity is unlikely to be as frenetic as it was during December 2018.

The day ahead

* U.S. House House lawmakers are set to vote today on proposed rules to reinstate a select committee on climate change, The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported.

* 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.

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Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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