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Energy, editors' picks: PUCO OKs subsidy plans for AEP, FirstEnergy; Royal Energy gains steam as coal investor

SNL Energy editors' picks forthe best stories for the week ended April 1.

1. PUCOexplains support for AEP, FirstEnergy generation subsidies

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on March 31unanimously  modified,yet controversial eight-year subsidy plans from AEP Ohio and 'sutilities designed to guarantee income for primarily coal-fired generation.AEP Ohio is the trade name of AmericanElectric Power Co. Inc. unit Ohio Power Co.

2. RoyalEnergy gaining steam as one of few buyers in busted coal market

Despite fire sale pricing, coal companies still  toattract buyers, but  has as oneof the  eager tobank on the right coal assets. Royal COO Ian Ganzer said hiscompany is trying to get ahead of the curve and evaluate where there mightstill be value in coal.

3. 'Differentby necessity': Attorney fighting gas projects by FERC rules presses for change

The relentless pursuit of new and creative legal argumentsagainst natural gas infrastructure expansions is helping one attorney "eke"out concessions in FERC cases for her clients that are opposed to new projects.Carolyn Elefant, the founder of the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant PLLC,acknowledged that colorful protests against the commission can be an effectivetool to publicize concerns and try to influence decision making.

4. Falling rigcounts unlikely to prompt significant declines in oil, gas production

The upward trends in the price of natural gas and crude oilover the past one to two months created expectations that rig counts havefinally fallen far enough to prompt an upward price response. However,migration of rigs to core acreage and the recent increase in hedging activityimply that production declines in the U.S. could be limited.

5. Trump pullsin policy advisers with energy experience, most of it outside US

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trumprecently named members of his foreign policy team who have energy-relatedexperience, but most of that experience was gained abroad, leaving his domesticenergy platform largely shrouded in mystery.