Calif. regulators seek to keep PG&E solvent while meeting wildfire costs
California utility regulators agreed to examine how to divide the costs of wildfire liability between utilities and ratepayers so that safe and adequate electricity service is not impaired. The proceeding, which the Public Utilities Commission decided to open on Jan. 10, applies to all electric utilities under the PUC's jurisdiction. But it will likely have the biggest impact on PG&E Corp. subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities from the state's catastrophic wildfires and is seeking to pass the cost of those damages on to its ratepayers.
Democrats scrutinize EPA's efforts to prep acting chief for confirmation hearing
Senate Democrats say they are "concerned" that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could be running afoul of both its contingency plan and federal law during the partial government shutdown by preparing Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler for his upcoming confirmation hearing. But the EPA's top lawyer says any activity being undertaken by agency personnel is on solid legal footing. In a Jan. 10 letter addressed to Wheeler, four Democrats on the committee — Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — said "it is difficult to understand how preparing you for next week's confirmation hearing falls within any of the categories listed in EPA's contingency plan."
Pa. agency wrongly issued air permit to Sunoco NGL plant, state board says
Pennsylvania's Environmental Hearing Board ruled that the Department of Environmental Protection wrongly issued an air quality permit to Energy Transfer LP's Sunoco Pipeline LP for its NGL plant at the Marcus Hook facility near Philadelphia and ordered the department to reassess the permit application. The state board ruled Jan. 9 that the department was mistaken when it assessed the emissions of multiple projects at the Marcus Hook facility in Delaware County, Pa., and treated them separately, rather than evaluating the project as a whole to determine whether air quality regulations are necessary.
Pa. review of Peoples Natural Gas, Aqua America merger gets underway
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has scheduled a prehearing conference on Jan. 18 to set the rules of the road for its review of the proposed acquisition of Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC and its Pennsylvania subsidiaries Peoples Equitable, which does business as Equitable Gas Co. LLC, and People Gas Co., also known as Peoples TWP LLC by Aqua America Inc. While the PUC has generally been receptive to utility mergers, intervenors are lining up to participate in the proceeding, including the PUC Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association, U.S. Steel Inc. and Equitrans LP, among others.