Daily digest

Dominion-backed bill advances in Virginia despite consumer advocates’ warnings

LEGISLATION: A major bill to overhaul how electric utilities are regulated in Virginia advances in the House and Senate. Dominion Energy and some environmental groups support the legislation while  consumer advocates repeated their warnings. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginian-Pilot)

MORE: A Kentucky net-metering bill that could more than double the payback time for residential solar installations heads to the full House for a vote, with some lawmakers voicing their support for coal before voting for the utility-backed bill. (Herald Leader, Courier Journal)

NUCLEAR:
• South Carolina’s SCANA and Virginia’s Dominion Energy seem to want it both ways as they push South Carolina lawmakers for a quick sale of the utility but want to stall cutting customers’ payments related to SCANA’s failed nuclear project. (Post and Courier)
• A South Carolina senator says utility customers could recover $1 billion from the sale of parts sitting idle at the failed Summer nuclear project and files legislation to ensure the site is kept in good condition. (The State)
• South Carolina’s 20 electric co-ops want to buy part or all of state-owned Santee Cooper, which some state leaders want to sell in the wake of the multi-billion-dollar failure of the Summer nuclear plant project. (The State)

OFFSHORE DRILLING:
• Supporters and opponents of the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling gather in Florida for federal government’s only public hearing in the state. The plan is still under consideration despite Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s declaration that Florida is exempt. (WFSU)
• Environmentalists and pro-drilling groups are skeptical of a deal between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to exempt the state from plans to expand offshore drilling. (Tallahassee Democrat)

PIPELINES:
• Proposed legislation in North Carolina would distribute $58 million to schools from an Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal, while Republican lawmakers insinuate Gov. Roy Cooper may have broken federal bribery laws by tying that fund to a permit approval on the multibillion-dollar project. (News & Observer, WRAL)
• A federal judge hears testimony that construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline through Louisiana is harming the environment following a request from environmental groups to suspend construction. (Associated Press)
• The Sabal pipeline project will continue with construction at least temporarily after a federal court did not issue a mandate that would have shut down its operation. (Utility Dive)

COAL ASH:
• Duke Energy wants a North Carolina appeals court to close a case that forces the utility to cleanup groundwater contaminated by coal ash. (Associated Press)
• North Carolina’s DEQ will hold three public hearings this month on the state’s draft rules for coal ash disposal. (Coastal Review Online)

COMMENTARY:
• FirstEnergy’s failed attempt to shift the costs of a struggling coal plant in West Virginia onto customers represents another loss for those who hoped President Trump would keep coal profitable. (ThinkProgress)
• Ratepayers will benefit financially from FirstEnergy’s decision not to transfer one of its West Virginia power plants from a deregulated subsidiary to regulated subsidiaries, says an energy analyst. (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis)
• Virginia lawmakers can give consumers back nearly $1 billion they were overcharged by Dominion or continue to protect the profits of monopolies, says an advocacy group. (Blue Virginia)
• Utilities are “bamboozling” Kentucky lawmakers into letting them corner the solar market with their proposed legislation on net metering. (Herald Leader)

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