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FERC launches inquiries into ROE setting; pipe permitting pace expected to slow


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FERC launches inquiries into ROE setting; pipe permitting pace expected to slow

Top News

FERC launches inquiries into ROE setting, transmission incentive policies

Following through on a pledge made months earlier, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 21 initiated a broad inquiry aimed at examining the way it sets the base rate of return on equity for electric utilities.

Pipeline permitting pace expected to slow as gas projects catch up to shale

Natural gas pipelines are showing signs of catching up to shale production. In a rare occurrence for the last decade, the agenda for FERC's monthly meeting on March 21 held no orders on Natural Gas Act certificates.

Oil supply growth could present downside risk to global prices

Ongoing oil production growth in the U.S. and elsewhere will likely delay any sustained recovery in global oil prices, an analyst with a top bank said at a recent industry event.

Coal exports from Central Appalachia, Illinois Basin mines surged YOY in 2018

Exports were the talk of the U.S. coal sector in 2018, and port data showed especially significant year-over-year increases at terminals shipping coal from Central Appalachia and the Illinois Basin.


"The message to banks is that it is time to drastically step up," said Greig Aitken, a climate campaigner for BankTrack, commenting on the Banking on Climate Change 2019 report, which shows that bank funding for fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change has risen.


* Electric utility associations and environmental groups were divided in responses to a footnote in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule for new coal plants seeking comment on how it should regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

* The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to bolster its solar capacity by 4 GW to 9 GW over the next two decades and reduce its reliance on coal-fired generation, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

* A group of insurers is joining hands with a hedge fund to seek recovery of billions of dollars in insurance payments to PG&E Corp. customers over damages tied to California wildfires, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing court documents.

* The U.S. nuclear power reactors produced a total of 807.1 million MWh of electricity in 2018, slightly more than the previous peak of 807.0 million MWh in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the near future, however, the agency expects that U.S. nuclear power output will decline.

* NextEra Energy Inc. and Consolidated Edison Inc. have warned that Hanwha Q CELLS Co. Ltd.'s move to ban solar imports into the U.S. from rival companies could jeopardize future solar developments, Bloomberg News reported. Hanwha recently filed a lawsuit against JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd., Longi and REC Silicon ASA for patent infringement.

* The proposed "Green New Deal" is yet to win support from the U.S. renewable energy sector, with a number of solar and wind companies view the deal as "unrealistic and too politically divisive," according to Reuters.

Natural gas

* Denbury Resources Inc. and Penn Virginia Corp. agreed to terminate their previously announced $1.7 billion merger transaction, citing challenging market conditions and opposition of certain Penn Virginia shareholders.

* Appalachia's shales will produce 45% of the United States' natural gas by 2040, and the region has a growing cost advantage in natural gas liquids over the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to an IHS Markit study highlighting the region's advantages for industrial developers.

* The Tanzanian government is planning to finalize terms of an agreement with Equinor ASA, Royal Dutch Shell plc and Ophir Energy PLC to develop a $30 billion LNG project, Bloomberg News reported, citing the Tanzanian energy ministry. The parties are expected to hold talks between April and September.

* U.S. natural gas prices will not stay low indefinitely, analysts at Moody's said recently, pointing to domestic and international markets for U.S. fuels catching up with the nation's shale surplus in the long term.

* Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is planning to seek long-term charters for about 16 LNG tankers to transport natural gas from a planned $20 billion project in Mozambique, Reuters reported.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management raised $11.8 million through the sale of 114 parcels, totaling about 96,000 acres, in Wyoming's quarterly oil and gas lease sale held online on March 19 and March 20. The BLM reviewed 146 nominated parcels for the sale.


* California oil and gas developers will have to adopt more stringent safety practices for idle wells in light of newly adopted state regulations.

* The Trump administration is looking to sign offshore oil drilling contracts on favorable terms and make it difficult for future administrations to rewrite or revoke, Bloomberg News reported.

* Murphy Oil Corp. will likely use some of the proceeds from the newly announced $2.13 billion divestiture of its Malaysian assets to support aspirations to expand its North American presence on land and offshore.

* Native tribes are pressing the Trump administration to ban oil and natural gas exploration around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, the AP reported.

* CITGO Petroleum Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela SA, is looking to secure a three-year, $1.8 billion loan to fund operations and refinance existing debt, sources told Reuters reported.


* The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued an imminent danger order to Consol Energy Inc. subsidiary Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co. LLC. The order pertained to the Bailey Mine, alleging that two miners were observed traveling on a battery-operated scoop, outside of the operator’s compartment, in the 7L Headgate section.

* Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed bipartisan legislation March 20 that requires Dominion Energy Virginia to excavate and recycle coal ash from unlined impoundments at four power plants.

* The U.S. Department of the Interior allocated about $291.3 million for 25 coal-producing states and three tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal mines, according to a March 19 release.

* Total U.S. coal production for the week ended March 16 declined 17.0% year over year to 12.4 million tons from 14.9 million tons, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


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Renewable energy credit prices saw another week of sideways trading action at major market centers across the country. Solar credit values held firm in Washington, D.C.; eased in Pennsylvania; and climbed in New Jersey.

New from RRA

* Southern California Edison Co. indicated it had not determined that its equipment was entirely responsible for the devastating 2017 Thomas Fire, after the Ventura County Fire Department released a second report pinning the cause on the utility's equipment.

The day ahead

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

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower 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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