U.S. Energy News

Coronavirus crisis buys time for opponents to fight oil projects

OIL & GAS: The coronavirus pandemic and a flooded oil market are buying opponents time to fight proposed projects by oil companies. (Texas Observer)

ALSO:
President Trump pledges federal support for the oil industry, including opening up space to store oil in the strategic reserve to drive up prices. (Washington Post)
• The crisis has opened the door for a last-ditch effort by Line 3 opponents to persuade Minnesota regulators to rethink its approval. (Star Tribune)
Some oil and gas projects along the Gulf Coast are still forging ahead or staying open, despite the spread of the coronavirus. (DeSmog)
The financial crisis becomes increasingly dire for states that are heavily dependent on oil industry revenue. (Associated Press)

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UTILITIES:
• Utility franchise agreements in Illinois give municipalities free energy but cost ratepayers millions and remove motivation for clean energy investments. (Energy News Network)
• Risks to workers from COVID-19 appear to have risen as Con Edison reported 170 cases and three deaths by Friday. (Utility Dive)
A quietly passed bill restoring Virginia regulators’ oversight of Dominion Energy’s cost recovery for early retirements of power plants is a big step for breaking up the utility’s monopoly, watchdogs say. (Energy News Network)

GRID:
• Power demand in New York City could fall as much as 20% during the citywide shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (E&E News, subscription)
Utility operations in Pennsylvania have been relatively unscathed during the pandemic as PJM planned for the possibility after the 2003 SARS epidemic. (WHYY)

RENEWABLES:
• Analysts say the renewables sector is poised to rebound strongly after the pandemic, but the industry that emerges is likely to look different than it did before with shakeups and consolidation likely. (S&P Global)
New research indicates almost two-thirds of solar projects in California are proposed as hybrids, and the state also has the largest number of proposed wind hybrid initiatives. (Greentech Media)

SOLAR:
California’s energy commissioner says President Trump’s use of high tariffs and his budget authority to slow solar deployment is “a great example of us shooting ourselves in the foot.” (Rolling Stone)
• The Kansas Supreme Court rules that state regulators engaged in illegal price discrimination by allowing utilities to collect higher fees from customers with rooftop solar. (Topeka Capital Journal)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Tesla electric vehicle sales increased 40% during the first three months of this year, according to preliminary data. (Associated Press)

COAL:
• Murray Energy tells state officials it may lay off 508 workers in eastern Ohio as it tries to sell assets as part of its bankruptcy case. (Columbus Dispatch)
West Virginia communities honor the 29 men who died 10 years ago in the Upper Big Branch mining disaster. (WVPB)

NUCLEAR:
• A Pennsylvania nuclear plant contractor tests positive for COVID-19 as local officials criticize Exelon’s response to the outbreak. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
• An anonymous worker says he is “terrified” of working at the plant and sees it as a breeding ground for the virus as social distancing is not in place. (Pottstown Mercury)
A worker at the Plant Vogtle nuclear project tests positive for COVID-19, according to Georgia Power. (E&E News, subscription)

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POLLUTION:
• A Stanford University professor says carbon emissions could decrease by more than 5% this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters)
• New data indicates air pollution in Colorado has dropped considerably as fewer fossil fuels are consumed during the coronavirus crisis. (Denver Post)

COMMENTARY:
• Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz writes that energy jobs should be the foundation of a coronavirus economic stimulus program. (The Hill)
• The New York State budget codifies a ban on fracking which had previously been in force only by an executive order. (Natural Resources Defense Council)

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