U.S. Energy News

Washington state regulators deny permit for largest U.S. coal terminal

COAL: In a win for environmental advocates, Washington state regulators deny a water quality permit for a coal export terminal that would have been the largest in the country. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• Two senators want more information about a “pattern of violations” at a coal-mining company owned by President Trump’s nominee to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. (The Hill)
• The Florida Public Service Commission approves plans to close a coal-fired power plant in Jacksonville by January, reducing carbon emissions and customer costs. (Sunshine State News)

FRACKING: 
• Cabot Oil & Gas settles a lawsuit with two Pennsylvania families who say the company contaminated their drinking water with methane from natural gas drilling. (Reuters)
• A county commission in Colorado votes to send a letter asking the Bureau of Land Management to drop an Obama-era rule regulating fracking on federal lands, saying the state’s rules and regulations are sufficient. (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

PIPELINES:
• Transporting oil by train instead of pipelines has some advantages that could keep pipeline investments smaller in the future, according to a new study. (Houston Chronicle)
• The leader of the Standing Rock Sioux says the Dakota Access pipeline developer got off lightly as part of an agreement with North Dakota regulators over alleged violations during construction. (Associated Press)

NUCLEAR:
• Westinghouse asks a bankruptcy court to block Georgia Power from terminating the company’s contract to build two nuclear power plants at Plant Vogtle. (Atlanta Business Chronicle)
• A newly filed federal lawsuit alleges “handsome bonuses” were paid to top utility officials even as the now-failed Summer nuclear project “veered toward abandonment.” (Fox 8)
• A South Carolina plant that fabricated materials for the now-abandoned Summer nuclear project will close in March, putting 250 employees out of work. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Charging consumers for the Summer nuclear project in South Carolina is “constitutionally suspect,” according to one official. (Charlotte Business Journal)

SOLAR: Pricing electricity based on peak usage, or time-of-use rates, could help foster a settlement between utilities and solar advocates in Virginia seeking a compromise on net metering. (Southeast Energy News)

STORAGE: Grid-tied residential battery storage systems will outnumber new off-grid systems and grid-independent backup systems across the U.S. for the first time ever this year. (Greentech Media)

WIND:
• The European Union is on track to surpass the U.S. in installed wind power capacity by 2020, according to recent predictions. (Greentech Media)
• After nine years of commercial wind energy development, Michigan researchers say they now have a better sense of what drives support — and opposition — for projects across the state. (Midwest Energy News)

RENEWABLES: Georgia Power plans to install 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy projects by 2021. (PV Magazine)

TECHNOLOGY: Evaporation-to-power devices on lakes and reservoirs could generate about 70 percent of the country’s electricity, according to researchers at Columbia University. (E&E News)

UTILITIES: Investments in grid infrastructure won’t stop a blackout during a major hurricane, but they do help utilities restore power faster. (Utility Dive)

POLITICS:
• Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the National Petroleum Council that his department could intervene if it believes state policies are threatening the energy supply of other states, using gas pipeline approvals as one example. (Utility Dive)
• Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tells a federal advisory board that nearly a third of his staff is disloyal to the president and doesn’t want to ease regulations for fossil fuel development on public land, saying “huge” restructuring changes are imminent. (Washington Post)

POLICY: A panel at a national energy conference discussed possible outcomes if federal subsidies for renewables were phased out and whether that would mean coal could make a comeback. (Bloomberg)

COMMENTARY:
• Distributed solar-plus-storage systems are cost-effective and can help keep the lights on during catastrophic weather events, according to experts at the Rocky Mountain Institute. (GreenBiz)
• Potential tariffs on imported solar equipment would hit utility-scale installers the hardest, says a writer for the Motley Fool.
• Federal rules on coal ash should not be weakened, and the “time and money we spend on it should go toward disposing of it properly, not cleaning up calamitous spills,” says a writer for Bloomberg.
• The head of the Conservative Energy Network says clean energy has created a “jobs boom that is boosting economic growth, creating middle class jobs, and attracting billions of dollars in new investment.” (Midwest Energy News)

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