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EQT to spin off midstream businesses; Duke Energy to boost renewable spending

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EQT to spin off midstream businesses; Duke Energy to boost renewable spending

Top News

Top US gas producer to spin off its midstream businesses

EQT Corp., the country's top natural gas producer by volume, is separating its natural gas upstream and midstream businesses through the creation of a new standalone company for its midstream operations.

Duke Energy to increase renewables spending, maintain focus on grid

Duke Energy Corp. expects to funnel more capital into commercial renewables but will continue to focus the bulk of its investments on the grid over the next five years.

New Jersey asks FERC to reconsider approval for PennEast pipeline

New Jersey continues to challenge the 1.1-Bcf/d PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC pipeline project that would carry Marcellus Shale gas to East Coast markets, asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its approval.

Regional skilled labor shortage complicates US coal market stabilization

Complicated labor issues persist for some U.S. coal companies looking to hire miners now that strong international markets are tempting metallurgical coal producers.

Power

* Citing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's policy of disallowing recovery by a regional grid operator of costs associated with political action committees and candidate fundraising, Public Citizen asked the agency to explore whether the PJM Interconnection paid millions of dollars in lobbying fees and campaign contributions and, if so, whether that money came from ratepayer-funded coffers.

* Duke Energy Corp. unveiled a $200 million plan to retrofit four units at its coal-fired Marshall power plant in North Carolina to burn a mix 30% to 50% natural gas, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

* Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, unveiled several energy-related bills Feb. 15, including proposals related to cybersecurity and grid modernization.

* The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court panel's decision that North Carolina does not hold deed to a 45-mile section of riverbed that houses four hydroelectric plants, The Associated Press reported.

* George David Banks, the former White House adviser on international and environmental issues, told E&E News in an interview that President Donald Trump could reconsider his decision to exit the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2020 because Trump is "going to want victories."

* Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana-South filed a long-term electric generation transition plan that calls for building an up to 900-MW gas-fired power plant and a 50-MW solar facility to replace coal-fired generation it intends to retire.

* While tariffs may slow solar expansion, local and state renewable energy mandates will help keep the industry growing in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported.

* JEA will hold a workshop on the utility's potential sale which, its consultant said, could net Florida's Jacksonville City between $2.9 billion and $6.4 billion, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal.

* U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain approved a $300 million loan for Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority that will help keep the troubled utility in operation, Reuters reported.

* The CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative Inc. plans to resign and make an attempt to run for governor. Christine Hallquist plans to tender her resignation after a board meeting on Feb. 21, according to The Associated Press, and has set her sights on becoming the first transgender governor in U.S. history.

* South Tyrol, Italy-headquartered BTS Biogas plans to begin construction of a waste-to-energy power plant in Jessup, Md., by the end of this year, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Natural gas/Oil

* A lack of pipeline takeaway capacity from Canada's oil sands regions will cost producers C$10.8 billion in forgone revenue in 2018, according to a report by the Bank of Nova Scotia.

* Energy Transfer Equity LP Chairman Kelcy Warren rejected claims that he unfairly benefited from a $1 billion issuance of units associated with the partnership's failed merger with Williams Cos. Inc., Bloomberg News reported.

* South Korea is getting closer to overtaking Mexico as the top destination for U.S. LNG exports, the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show, with the Asian country importing about 20 billion cubic feet more of liquefied natural gas than Mexico in December 2017.

* Royal Dutch Shell plc has expressed interest in the Permian basin oil assets that BHP Billiton Group has put up for sale, Bloomberg News reported.

* The proposed federal gas tax increase is expected to hit states where President Donald Trump won in 2016 the hardest, The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported, citing an analysis from two groups tied to Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

* Diversified Gas and Oil PLC announced a $500 million, five-year senior secured revolving credit facility in conjunction with the closing of deals with Alliance Petroleum Corp. and CNX Resources Corp.

* The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the death of an offshore oil and gas worker on a Talos Energy LLC-operated Gulf of Mexico platform, according to the Houston Chronicle.

* Electric vehicle adoption could pose a threat to oil demand, which "could plausibly peak" before 2030, Fitch Ratings said.

* Jeffery Hildebrand has stepped down as CEO of Hilcorp Energy Co. and is now the executive chairman of the company he founded, the Houston Business Journal reported.

Coal

* A new bill introduced in the West Virginia legislature includes a provision to defer to federal authority instead of drafting individual state-approved mining plans.

* Despite President Donald Trump's claims of coal resurgence, more coal-fired capacity has closed in 2018 than in the first three years of the Obama administration, Greentech Media reported.

* Murray Energy Corp. announced that its unrestricted subsidiary completed the acquisition of 51% of the assets formerly owned by Armstrong Energy Inc.

Commodities

* Policymakers' attention to reducing global carbon emissions, along with shifting transportation preferences among consumers, could place up to 25% of global refining capacity at risk by 2035, analysts said.

* The price premium held by the benchmark Henry Hub natural gas spot index over the NYMEX prompt-month gas activity thus far in the withdrawal season indicates more incentive to draw natural gas from inventories in the current heating season than in the comparable period in the year earlier and in the frigid winter of 2013-14, as market participants avoid exposure to the physical markets.

* Following a 5.8-cent advance in the truncated workweek's opening session to settle at $2.616/MMBtu, NYMEX March natural gas futures were slightly lower overnight ahead of the Wednesday, Feb. 21, open, even as traders looked to support from revised weather outlooks and supply-side fundamentals.

* Price activity for next-day power could be bolstered Wednesday, Feb. 21, by mostly rising demand outlooks for Thursday. Traders will also watch natural gas markets at midweek.

SNL Image

New from RRA

* In rebuttal testimony filed Feb. 19, Great Plains Energy Inc. and Westar Energy Inc. acknowledged that aspects of a recent recommendation by the Kansas Corporation Commission staff regarding their proposed "merger of equals" could have merit, but other conditions that could be imposed "go too far."

Quoted

"When you're looking at prospects who want to look at big sites, you've got to get 'em up in a helicopter," said Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Bill Johnson in defense of the agency's use of a luxury helicopter at a quarterly board meeting.

The day ahead

* The following companies will hold their earnings conference calls: Cheniere Energy Inc., EnLink Midstream Partners LP and FirstEnergy Corp. at 10 a.m. ET; Avista Corp. at 10:30 a.m. ET; Southern Co. at 1 p.m. ET; and Vectren Corp. at 2 p.m. ET.

* 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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