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Storage industry battles battery fires; gas utilities managing to grow

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US utility commissioners: Who they are and how they impact regulation

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Essential Energy Insights, April 2021

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Storage industry battles battery fires; gas utilities managing to grow

Top News

In push for clean energy tax breaks, US storage and extension bills best hope

Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have introduced a wave of bills in 2019 to create, expand or extend tax credits for clean energy technologies amid a heightened push to address climate change.

Burning concern: Energy storage industry battles battery fires

Dozens of fires involving lithium-ion battery installations in South Korea, the United States, Europe and Australia have forced companies to face the hazards of energy storage systems, even as a long-awaited market surge gathers steam.

Gas utilities managing to grow, even with regulatory and social obstacles

As opposition to natural gas projects gains more attention, utilities who move the fuel to customers across the U.S. are still finding ways to expand, often by reaching common ground with the communities where the companies operate, a number of industry executives said.

US coal plant capacity factors remain low, even as older units retire

As U.S. power generators continue to retire coal plants, the existing fleet is running at capacity factors well below the maximum output of the plants.

Large investors were net sellers of refining equities during tough Q1

Large investors were net sellers of U.S. refining equities in the first quarter, during which investors sold off a net 11.8 million shares of Marathon Petroleum Corp. stock.

Quoted

"Despite its name, this bill is not clean enough, nor smart enough, nor does it create the intended jobs within Maryland," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, in a letter saying that he would let the "Clean Energy Jobs Act," passed by the state legislature in April, become law without his signature.

Power

* Key stakeholders are calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require changes to the California ISO's proposal to overhaul its backstop procurement tools, with some saying the plan falls well short of the holistic approach FERC wanted.

* A bill that would subsidize nuclear power capacity in Ohio has been amended to shore up coal-fired power plants in the state, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The amended bill also removed incentives for clean energy, according to The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler suggested that the progressive-backed Green New Deal and similar clean energy initiatives do not "value" electric grid reliability and therefore could endanger public health.

* Illinois lawmakers repealed the Kyoto Protocol Act, which prohibits the state from implementing its own greenhouse gas emissions beyond the U.S. goals under the Kyoto Protocol, WTTW reported.

* Tennessee Valley Authority has filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an early site permit for the Clinch River Nuclear site in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Natural gas

* Many New York residents applied for natural gas utility service in the months before a subsidiary of the largest utility provider in the state, Consolidated Edison Inc., placed a moratorium on oil-to-gas conversions in one service territory because of the state's restrictions on new interstate pipelines.

* Southern Co. Gas' Pivotal LNG Inc. has begun operations at its small-scale LNG facility project in Jacksonville, Fla., the first of its kind in the U.S. with both marine- and truck-loading capabilities.

* U.S. demand for natural gas declined 3% for the week that ended May 22, as moderate temperatures pulled down residential and commercial consumption, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its May 23 "Natural Gas Weekly Update."

* Cyprus-based investment firm Cynergy Group plans to spend $5 billion to $10 billion to purchase underutilized natural gas assets in the Eastern Mediterranean, Bloomberg News reported.

Oil

* In the first quarter, large investors increased their net holdings in oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Chevron Corp. and Total SA, but they reduced ownership in Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Equinor ASA, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

* The British Columbia Court of Appeal is set to decide whether the province has jurisdiction to regulate the flow of heavy oil through its territory, The Globe and Mail reported.

* Shell subsidiary Shell Offshore Inc. has started production at the Appomattox floating production system in the Gulf of Mexico, months ahead of schedule. Shell is the operator of the project.

* Guyana's State Assets Recovery Agency is probing into the issuance of exploration rights at the deepwater oil region, Bloomberg News reported. The investigation would cover offshore oil leases controlled by Exxon and Tullow Oil plc.

* Delek US Holdings Inc. plans to invest $150 million to enhance its refinery in Krotz Springs, La.

Coal

* The U.S Bureau of Land Management concluded that the Trump administration's lifting of the federal coal lease moratorium did not change the cumulative levels of greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal mined from public lands.

* Westmoreland Resource Partners LP requested expedited approval from the bankruptcy court to sell its Kemmerer coal mine in Wyoming.

ChartWatch

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During the week ended May 23, over-the-counter solar renewable energy credit markets were volatile, holding firm in New Jersey, swinging higher in Maryland and tumbling in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

New from RRA

* Columbia Gas of Maryland Inc. filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission for a $3.7 million, or 7.34%, gas distribution base rate increase. The company said "approval of this request will demonstrate to the investment community that the [PSC] continues to support the need for intensified focus on pipeline safety matters as well as the need for reasonable and predictable earnings."

The day ahead

* The Baker-Hughes rig count report is due out today.

* 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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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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