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March 4-8: NextEra yieldco scoops up assets; Enbridge reveals Line 3 delay

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NEXTERA ENERGY PARTNERS — NextEra Energy Partners on March 4 agreed to acquire a 611-MW solar and wind portfolio from corporate affiliate NextEra Energy Resources LLC for about $1.02 billion. Following the deal's approval, the NextEra Energy Inc. yieldco said it plans to contribute the acquired projects and four existing wind assets to a new portfolio and recapitalize $220 million of existing nonrecourse project debt. NextEra Energy Partners also announced that it plans to raise the approximately $1.25 billion needed for the acquisition and recapitalization through capacity under an existing credit facility. The yieldco expects to partially repay funds drawn under the credit facility from a new convertible equity portfolio financing with New York investment firm KKR & Co.


WESTMORELAND — Westmoreland Coal Co. in a March 4 news release said it plans to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of the first quarter. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas confirmed the Colorado coal producer's reorganization plan on March 1, setting the stage for its liquidation. Westmoreland Coal will transfer many of its assets to creditors and a stalking horse bidder. Once the reorganization plan goes into effect, Westmoreland's board of directors will dissolve, leaving a plan administrator to wind down operations and deal with any remaining claims against the company. The new entity owned by the creditors will continue operating and "Westmoreland will be finished," a bankruptcy lawyer said.

WHEELER — Andrew Wheeler, the newly confirmed administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said he is trying to bring "balance back" to the agency and its regulations. "There had to be some changes made over the past two years to try to equal the balance back, away from some of the draconian regulations the Obama administration tried to do," Wheeler told S&P Global Market Intelligence. Wheeler also said it is not the government's job to "tip the scales" in favor of certain generation resources. "I think it's the government's responsibility to level the playing field and make sure that people are competing in a free market system," he said.


ENBRIDGE — Enbridge Inc. shares dropped more than 6% in early trading on March 4 after the Calgary, Alberta-based company revealed a major pipeline expansion would be delayed by almost a year. Enbridge on March 1 pushed back the expected in-service date of its Line 3 replacement project in Minnesota to the second half of 2020 after receiving a timeline for the project's remaining needed environmental permits. The company said Minnesota officials have indicated that all certifications needed for state permits before construction can begin should be received by November, with remaining federal government permits settled 30 to 60 days later. During the company's fourth-quarter 2018 earnings call in mid-February, Enbridge President and CEO Al Monaco said the company anticipates completing the replacement of a 1960s-era crude oil pipeline by the end of this year.

ARIZONA — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich determined that more than two dozen public officials, including Arizona Corporation Commission member Andy Tobin, violated state law by using public resources to influence voters to reject a renewable energy ballot measure in November 2018. Brnovich will not sanction a separate "comprehensive investigation" that Arizona Public Service Co., or APS, may have "exerted illegal influence" over commissioners and engaged in "quid pro quo" arrangements with energy regulators, a spokesperson for the attorney general's office said. Proposition 127, opposed by APS and its parent Pinnacle West Capital Corp., would have boosted the state's renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030, from 15% by 2025 under current statute.