The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted three-to-one on Nov. 20 to authorize TransCanada Corp. to construct the 280-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline along one of its proposed routes, marking the end of an over nine-month long legal process. TransCanada is assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project, Russ Girling, chief executive officer of TransCanada, said in a press release on the day of the ruling. Opponents of the line, which extends from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, have 30 days to file a legal appeal.
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and welcome to EnerKnol Pulse, where our mission is to bring you a roundup of the most important energy sector news for the past week. Please enjoy this complimentary edition.
November 27, 2017
Natural Gas Pipelines
Climate and Environment
Rates and Power Markets
Berkshire Hathaway Energy
Central Hudson Gas & Electric
Columbia Gas Transmission
Dayton Power and Light
DTE Midstream Appalachia
Kinder Morgan Louisiana
Northern States Power
Rocky Mountain Power
Salt River Project
Transcontinental Gas Pipeline
Virginia Electric and Power
Rocky Mountain Power LLC, a division of PacifiCorp and part of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., announced plans to sell or close its 120-megawatt Hardin Generating Station in Big Horn County, as the plant has lost money in the Mid-C market since 2014, a Nov. 16 filing with the Montana Public Service Commission showed.
Northern States Power Company, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc., should be required to enter into power purchase contracts for up to 20-year terms from eligible alternative power producers with up to 5 megawatts of generating capacity, in what marks Michigan Public Service Commission’s first update to the rates set under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act since March 1981, according to a Nov. 21 proposed decision. Northern States requested a five-year contract term for facilities with 100 kilowatts of capacity or less.
TransCanada Corp. subsidiary Columbia Gas Transmission LLC received authorization by FERC on Nov. 17 to build and run the WB Xpress natural gas expansion project, which is designed to add 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of pipeline capacity in West Virginia and Virginia.
Natural Gas Pipelines
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cleared Williams Partners LP to construct and run the Gulf Connector natural gas expansion project, which would expand the company’s pipeline system in Texas and Louisiana to provide up to 475,000 dekatherms per day of capacity to liquefied natural gas export terminals in Texas, according to the commission’s Nov. 21 order.
DTE Energy Co.’s 13-mile Birdsboro natural gas pipeline project, designed to carry 79,000-dekatherms per day of supplies to a new Pennsylvania generating station, was not found by FERC to carry any significant environmental impacts, according to a Nov. 22 notice by the commission.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation asked a federal appeals court on Nov. 17 to review a decision by FERC to waive the state’s permitting authority for Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC’s 8-mile Valley Lateral natural gas pipeline. FERC ruled the agency forfeited its authority to issue a water quality certificate after failing to act within the one-year deadline, allowing the developer to begin construction.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Kinder Morgan Inc. to construct the Sabine Pass Expansion Project, a pipeline upgrade designed to add 600,000 dekatherms per day of capacity for Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas export facility in Louisiana, according to the commission’s Nov. 20 order.
Climate and Environment
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will partially finance Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.’s reconstruction of the Mason Substation, using funds from the climate resilience Energy Strong program, according to a Nov. 21 Board order.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton issued an executive order directing state agencies to improve energy conservation and efficiency to meet a 30-percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2027 relative to 2005 levels, according to a Nov. 22 press release from the Governor’s Office.
The Vermont Public Utility Commission announced Nov. 22 it will examine the reliability and resiliency of the state’s power grid in preparation for more frequent and severe storms brought by climate change. The commission will focus on utility tree-clearing, undergrounding of power lines and relocating energy infrastructure.
The Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal, a 360,000-barrel-per day crude oil rail terminal proposed by Vancouver Energy, has not been found to carry “significant unavoidable impacts” related to construction or operations, according to a final environmental review issued Nov. 22 by the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. A final recommendation on the project, a joint venture by subsidiaries of Andeavor Corp. (formerly Tesoro Corp.) and Savage Companies, is due by Nov. 30.
Rates and Power Markets
The Environmental Defense Fund and other advocacy groups called on the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to rescind a plan approved Oct. 20 allowing Dayton Power and Light Company, a subsidiary of AES Company, to collect $105 million annually for three years to fund grid modernization projects and pay down debts for the utility, saying it unfairly burdens consumers and fails to incentivize system improvements.
Wholesale power across New York fell as much as 30 percent in the three months ended September from the year-ago period, driven lower by mild summer temperatures, lower natural gas costs, and higher output from nuclear and hydro units, according to a Nov. 29 report by the market monitor Potomac Economics Ltd.
Virginia Electric and Power Company, a subsidiary of Dominion Energy Inc., proposed two options for customers with less than one megawatt of peak demand to displace 100 percent of their electricity with renewable generation at rates based on market prices, according to the company’s Nov. 17 application with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
The New York State Public Service Commission approved a plan by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., to slash the duration of its peak rates charged under its so-called voluntary time of use program to five hours, from 12 hours, to better match surges in electricity demand, according to a Nov. 17 order by the agency.
Consumers Energy Co., a subsidiary of CMS Energy Corp., must increase the power purchase contract period with eligible small generators to up to 20 years, and boost the size of eligible projects to two megawatts of generating capacity, from 100 kilowatts or less, following a Nov. 21 ruling by the Michigan Public Service Commission under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. The agency cut the rates paid to small power producers to match the expenses of running a natural gas plant, after previously reflecting the costs of running a coal plant.
The historical connection between economic growth and electricty use is crumbling as more developed countries shift to service-based economies or advanced manufacturing, using less power, according to a Nov. 20 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Salt River Project, one of the nation’s largest public power utilities, seeks to expand its stake in the Gila River Power Station in Maricopa County, with the acquisition of 1,030 megawatts of generating capacity from Beal Financial Corp., a lender that acquired the two units following the previous owner’s bankruptcy. The acquisition, subject to approval from FERC, would replace a portion of the generating capacity lost with the closure in December 2019 of Salt River’s Navajo Generating Station.