Virginia regulators again reject parts of Dominion’s grid plan

GRID: Virginia utility regulators again reject parts of Dominion Energy’s grid modernization plan — including a proposal to spend $752 million deploying smart meters — saying the company didn’t justify customer benefit. (Greentech Media)

• Florida Power & Light plans to offer customers a one-time 25% bill reduction in May because of low natural gas costs. (News Service of Florida)
• Duke Energy and North Carolina’s consumer advocate reach a settlement over a rate-hike request, but it makes only a small difference in the utility’s request. (Charlotte Business Journal, subscription) 

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Amid pandemic, Southeast states criminalize pipeline protests

PIPELINES: In the past two weeks, governors of Kentucky and West Virginia have signed into law legislation that puts new criminal penalties on protests against fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines. (Huffington Post)

• Mountain Valley Pipeline construction is delayed again: Two federal agencies will take another month to reconsider the project’s impact on endangered or threatened species. (Roanoke Times)
• Pipeline operators in Texas and elsewhere ask oil producers to voluntarily scale back output because storage space is running out. (Bloomberg)

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After legislative win, Virginia’s clean energy momentum threatened by pandemic

RENEWABLES: After celebrating a major legislative victory this month, Virginia renewable energy companies now face an economic slump due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Virginia Mercury)

WIND: The nascent offshore wind industry, including projects off the coast of Virginia, could see major setbacks because of the coronavirus. (InsideClimate News)

• The United Mine Workers of America asks federal regulators to set guidelines to help protect coal miners from contracting coronavirus. (WVPB)
• West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signs into law a bill that gives power companies tax breaks for keeping coal-fired power plants open. (Bloomberg Tax, subscription)
• The coal industry will not receive direct assistance from the $2 trillion bill to bring economic relief to individuals and industries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prayer and precautions: Coal miners fear coronavirus impact

BIOMASS: With a public hearing on a proposed wood pellet plant in North Carolina canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, community members worry they are running out of time to get answers from state regulators. (Energy News Network)

COAL: Former and current coal miners in Appalachia who suffer from black lung disease take extra precautions to avoid getting coronavirus, which is especially dangerous for them. (Earther)

PIPELINES: A federal judge rejects a challenge by environmental groups and fishermen of permits for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, saying the judgment had already been decided in previous rulings. (E&E News, subscription)

SOLAR: A Texas solar company is promoting installations and offering discounts for residents who want to go solar while they’re at home under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. (KSAT)

NUCLEAR: The Tennessee Valley Authority delays planned outages at a nuclear reactor this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coal miners told to keep working during pandemic despite close quarters

UTILITIES: Campaign contributions by Duke Energy’s political action committee in North Carolina closely aligned with lawmakers’ votes on a controversial bill that would have allowed the utility to collect upfront, multi-year rate increases. (Energy News Network)

• Consumer advocates pressure Texas regulators to suspend electricity shutoffs during the coronavirus pandemic due to layoffs and furloughs. (Dallas Morning News)
• Pensacola, Florida’s mayor says he will not take a paycheck during the coronavirus pandemic and instead donate it to help residents pay utility bills. (CNN) 

COAL: Coal miners in West Virginia are told to keep working during the coronavirus pandemic despite the fact they’re in close quarters and many have damaged lungs. (Washington Post)

• Louisiana’s oil and gas industry profits off of work release programs that put prisoners to work servicing offshore drilling companies.