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. The Republican governor joined Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot on Jan. 2 to deny the easement to cross the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which runs about 20 miles along the Potomac River.
US Senate confirms several Trump energy, environmental nominees
As the 115th U.S. Congress wound down, the U.S. Senate voted Jan. 2 to confirm a wave of nominees for energy and environmental positions within the Trump administration. By voice vote, Daniel Simmons was confirmed as assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE.
Minn. renewable gas program gathers support, but accountability questions remain
A proposal by CenterPoint Energy Inc.'s Minnesota gas utility to begin introducing renewable natural gas into the company's stream has been well received by renewable energy advocates, although some supporters want to see more environmental accountability associated with the program. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is taking comments on the utility's August pilot program application to give customers the option to purchase renewable natural gas, or RNG — refined gas derived from biological sources, such as landfills or dairy farms — for an additional charge on their monthly bill.
US government shutdown delaying Mass. gas blasts investigation, senator warns
The federal government shutdown is delaying the investigation into a deadly September 2018 series of gas explosions and fires in Massachusetts, potentially postponing related safety fixes that could come out of the investigation, according to one U.S senator. "We need to fund government and provide the NTSB the resources it needs to complete its investigation and compile a comprehensive account of the safety lapses that led to the deadly disaster in Merrimack Valley," Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in a Jan. 3 statement on the Massachusetts blasts.
Virginia Natural Gas cuts gas rates, refunding $13.9M in tax benefits
Virginia Natural Gas Inc. implemented a rate reduction that incorporated a return of money to ratepayers to reflect lower corporate tax rates. The Southern Co. gas utility in December 2018 obtained approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to reduce rates by $12.4 million. Starting Jan. 1, a typical Virginia Natural Gas customer using about 50 ccf per month will see a $33 bill decrease on an annual basis, according to a Jan. 2 news release.
NW Natural seeks 12.6% increase in base rates for Wash. gas customers
Northwest Natural Holding Co. gas utility Northwest Natural Gas Co. asked Washington regulators to increase base rates by 12.6% so it can recover higher operating costs and distribution system investments made over 10 years. Falling natural gas prices have caused an almost 40% dip in average residential rates in Washington, which has also become the fastest growing portion of NW Natural's service territory, making the request a "necessary step" in the regulatory process to recover costs, NW Natural President and CEO David Anderson said.