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Energy, most read: Activist investors eye NRG; House targets Dodd-Frank

SNL Energy presents the most read stories for the week ended Jan. 20.

1. NRG the target of activist shake-up by Elliott, former TXU brass

An activist investor group led by Elliott Management Corp. and a former TXU Corp. executive has set its sights on NRG Energy Inc., acquiring 9.4% of the company's shares in an effort to plumb for value by engaging management and the board to consider certain financial and operational changes.

2. Protecting Obama's legacy, EPA moves to deny requests to review Clean Power Plan

The U.S. EPA, for the most part, intends to deny 38 petitions for review of the Clean Power Plan, reserving complaints about how the carbon-cutting rule handles biomass and waste-to-energy facilities to be addressed at another time. The agency also brushed aside 22 petitions for an administrative stay of the rule.

3. House passes bills to roll back Dodd-Frank regulations and restrict new ones

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would reauthorize the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission through fiscal year 2021, but could also roll back financial regulations and restrict the implementation of new ones. H.R. 238, The Commodity End-User Relief Act, was introduced Jan. 4 by House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and was approved by the Republican-controlled House on Jan. 12 by a vote of 239-182.

4. Barclays sees asset sales as clue to Williams' 'surprise' $11B restructure

Williams Cos. Inc.'s move to increase its ownership in Williams Partners LP may have been partly driven by the thought that planned asset sales may not bring enough value to allow for a bigger restructuring, Barclays analysts reasoned.

5. Ontario's coal plant phase-out didn't improve air quality, new study says

A costly operation to close coal-fired power plants in Ontario did little to improve air quality in the Canadian province, according to a recent think tank study. "Ontario closed its coal-fired plants with promises to greatly reduce air pollution and save billions in health costs, neither of which came true. Now the province has the most expensive energy in North America," said Kenneth Green, senior director of natural resource studies at the Fraser Institute, in a release.