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US execs push for new incentives for transmission; Murray blasts 'feckless' FERC


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US execs push for new incentives for transmission; Murray blasts 'feckless' FERC

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US execs push for new incentives, pay-for-performance transmission model

U.S. electric utility companies and competitive transmission developers need new incentives that reward efficiency improvements and allow project sponsors to share in cost savings, industry leaders said Oct. 21.

Dominion sale of 25% stake in LNG plant for $2B furthers plans to trim debt

A planned divestiture of a $2 billion stake in Dominion Energy Inc.'s Cove Point LNG terminal is a significant step toward drawing down Dominion's relatively high parent-level debt, analysts said.

Chevron gets 2nd waiver extension to operate in Venezuela

The U.S. Treasury Department on Oct. 21 issued a 90-day waiver extension to allow Chevron Corp. and four oil field service companies to operate in Venezuela despite U.S. sanctions against the Latin American country's oil sector. The latest extension expires Jan. 22, 2020.

Murray blasts 'feckless' FERC, warns against short-sighted US energy policy

Coal magnate Robert Murray took the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to task Oct. 21 for not acting to protect the coal-fired generation fleet from what he said were biased wholesale power market pricing mechanisms.


"There's actually a penalty on utilities for putting in low-cost solutions that solve big problems, and I think we need to fix that," Gregg Rotenberg, CEO of grid optimization company Smart Wires Inc., said at the inaugural EnVision energy summit in Lexington, Ky.


* The head of the ISO New England defended the grid operator's new two-step capacity market design as the best way to accommodate state-supported clean energy resources without leaving merchant generators stranded.

* NextEra Energy Resources LLC signed a 40-year firm capacity agreement to supply natural gas to PowerSouth Energy Cooperative's approximately 700-MW Lowman Energy Center in southern Alabama through its Lowman Pipeline.

* As states and utilities move aggressively to decarbonize their power generation systems, appropriate rate structures are critical to facilitating and accelerating that transition, and ill-designed electricity rates could hold back that shift, policymakers and utility executives said.

* Energy Department staff confirmed to The Hill that Secretary Rick Perry will be leaving the agency on Dec. 1.

Natural gas

* A consortium of Canadian pension funds has agreed to acquire AltaGas Canada Inc. in a C$1.7 billion all-cash transaction.

* Ares Management Corp. agreed to sell a 22.5% ownership in Meade Pipeline Co LLC to a NextEra Energy Partners LP subsidiary for about $286 million. Meade owns a 39% stake in the FERC-regulated Central Penn Line, which is the greenfield part of the larger Atlantic Sunrise project.

* Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC expects to place into service its 2-Bcf/d natural gas pipeline project in late 2020 at a revised total cost estimate of $5.3 billion to $5.5 billion. The pipeline company plans to complete approximately 90% of total project work by year-end 2019.

* As U.S. LNG cargoes remain cut off from China as a result of ongoing trade tensions between the two countries, other importers in Asia have continued to help absorb rising shipments of the American commodity.

* David Hendry has resigned as CFO of Canadian natural gas and oil company Obsidian Energy Ltd. to pursue another opportunity, effective Nov. 15.

* A three-year proposal for Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc.'s electric and natural gas rates is somewhat disappointing on the surface but leaves room for an earnings boost if the company can achieve incentives, analysts said.


* The New York attorney general's climate change lawsuit against oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. is set to go to trial today, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The suit accused Exxon of misleading investors on the actions the company was taking to address its potential financial exposure to climate change risks.

* While meeting earnings expectations for the third quarter, oilfield services major Halliburton Co. continued to face challenges from its North America land operations, which will necessitate equipment stacking and other cost-cutting measures, executives said Oct. 21.

* California Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the state attorney general to investigate high gas prices followed the release of a California Energy Commission report that suggests big oil companies may be misleading and overcharging customers.

* The Port of Corpus Christi needs to secure an alternative source of financing to move forward with its joint venture oil export terminal, one industry expert said.

* Total SA has agreed to form a joint venture with Chinese state-owned Zhejiang Energy Group for the supply and delivery of marine fuels in the Zhoushan region.

* A group of British politicians is urging the Parliamentary Pension Fund trustee to divest its investments in BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to help reduce climate change risks, Bloomberg News reported.

* Dubai's Dragon Oil Ltd. plans to invest $1 billion in Egypt's Gulf of Suez, after completing the purchase of oil concessions from BP, according to Reuters.

* Royal Dutch Shell PLC dropped two oil projects in Kazakhstan, saying they were "not competitive enough versus other opportunities," Bloomberg News reported.


* Bad news for coal investors dominated headlines in recent weeks as more power plant retirements in the U.S. and reduced appetite for coal exports spurred bankruptcies and mine closures ahead of the sector's third-quarter earnings reports.

* Bituminous coal producer Wolverine Fuels LLC has appointed Carson Pollastro as COO. Pollastro currently serves as president of Utah American Energy.


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FERC member Richard Glick said Oct. 17 the agency should consider using a different metric than reserve margins when assessing wintertime reliability in the fuel-constrained Northeastern U.S.

New from RRA

* There is some positive correlation in non-restructured states between the comparatively high use of gas- and coal-fired generation and low electricity prices; a modest correlation also seems to exist between low prices and a more favorable state regulatory ranking by Regulatory Research Associates, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The day ahead

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed 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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