Dominion Looking to Sell Gas-Fired Power Plants in PA, RI

Dominion Energy, headquartered in Richmond, VA, is a large utility and pipeline company providing ~6 million customers in 19 states with natural gas and electricity. Dominion not only flows energy to customers, it also generates it. In 2016, Dominion brought online a brand new, 1,358 megawatt, natural gas-fired generating plant in Brunswick County, VA (see Dominion Brunswick NatGas-Fired Plant Begins Electric Generation). Dominion built and now operates the Cove Point LNG export facility, which began exporting Marcellus gas in April of this year (see First-Ever Shipment of Marcellus LNG Leaves Cove Point, Maryland). In other words, Dominion really digs natural gas. Yet the company is rumored to be shopping two of its natgas-fired generating plants, looking to make $1-$1.5 billion. One plant, the Fairless Power Station, is located in Bucks County, PA near Philadelphia. The other, Manchester Street Power Station, is located in the People’s Republic of Rhode Island. So why on earth would Dominion, a company that really digs natgas, want to dump two of its power generating plants situated in large, urban areas? It all has to do with regulation…
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Long Island Town Votes to Allow New Gas-Fired Elec Plant

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Caithness II gas-fired power plant. Photo Credit: TRC Environmental Corp. Click for larger version.

Caithness Energy is a privately held company that specializes in buying or building (and operating) renewable energy and natural gas-fired power plants. We’ve written about a number of gas-fired generating projects they own or are involved with, over the years (see our Caithness stories here). Caithness owns a 350 megawatt natgas-fired power plant in Yaphank, NY–on Long Island. For more than four years Caithness has had a plan to build a second natgas-fired plant next to the first. The original plan was for a 750 MW plant, later scaled back to 600 MW. Local leaders in Brookhaven Town in which the existing and proposed power plant projects sit has been against the plan for a new power plant. The town passed restrictions in 2015 that tied the hands of Caithness, making the project impossible to build. As recently as May of this year, members of the town board expressed their doubts about the new project. But then, all of a sudden, the board reversed course and last Thursday voted to repeal the 2015 restriction that limits the type of equipment Caithness can use in building the plant. No, it’s not a ringing endorsement and it’s not full approval of the plan (many more local and state hoops will have to be jumped through). But it certainly signals a change of heart by town leaders…
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Stark County, OH Farmer Sues NEXUS Pipeline for Erosion Damage

The NEXUS Pipeline project, owned by DTE Energy and Spectra Energy (Enbridge), is being sued by a farmer in Stark County, OH. NEXUS is a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that runs from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. The Stark County farmer signed an easement with NEXUS in 2016. Construction began earlier this year. In late March, a lawyer hired by the farmer sent NEXUS a letter telling the company of erosion at the farm, due to their digging activities. The farmer estimated about $23,000 of damage at the time. But, according to the lawsuit, NEXUS didn’t fix the problem and that led to more damage–now up to $55,000 worth. The problem is that topsoil on the farm has been washed away. The farmer wants it replaced. If true, it certainly seems like a reasonable request to us. The farmer isn’t demanding millions of dollars, just the cost to replace soil swept away by NEXUS-related digging…
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NextEra Energy Says New England Doesn’t Need New NatGas Pipelines

Joe Kelliher, executive vice president of NextEra Energy, is also the former Republican chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under George W. Bush. Testifying before a Senate committee last week, Kelliher said New England doesn’t need new interstate natural gas pipelines to be built. Kelliher parrots language we’ve heard antis use–that New England’s pipeline system is adequate for “all but 12 days of the year.” For years pipeline companies (and grid operators) have been warning that without new pipelines to the region, New England is heading for rolling blackouts when temps get severe. So why would Kelliher take the opposite view at the hearing? Because his company, NextEra Energy, profits from lack of pipelines in the region! Kelliher is not a disinterested party in these matters. In 2016 we told you about NextEra and two other companies that were actively lobbying against new pipelines (see Spectra Energy Pushes Back Against New England Pipeline Naysayers). In the case of NextEra, they own regulated electric generating plants in the region–namely the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire, and the Bellingham Energy Center (natgas-fired) in Massachusetts. New pipelines to New England would feed unregulated electric generating plants that would compete with NextEra’s plants. NextEra’s position is unfair suppression of competition by attempting to get the government to collude in and endorse that suppression by blocking pipelines. Shame on Kelliher and NextEra for their continued campaign to lock in place electric rates in New England that are on average 4X higher than the rest of the country–for their own selfish gain…
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M-U Companies Collaborate with Eco Group on Pipeline Report

Over the years the Nature Conservancy, whose mission is “to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends,” has put its support behind restrictive, anti-drilling measures. However, they’re not typically one of the Big Green groups that actively goes out of its way to block all fossil fuel extraction. They’re not as bad as the Sierra Club, or NRDC, or Earthworks. In what is perhaps a new chapter in cooperation with the industry (sure to get them tossed off the Christmas card list by other Big Green groups), the Nature Conservancy worked with eight of the largest pipeline companies in the U.S. (all but one with operations in the Marcellus/Utica) to produce a report titled, “Improving Steep-Slope Pipeline Construction to Reduce Impacts to Natural Resources” (full copy below). The report’s aim is to provide a list of best practice aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of natural gas pipeline construction. Particularly in areas prone to landslides. Working with Nature Conservancy on the report was Dominion Energy, Enbridge, EQT Midstream Partners, Kinder Morgan, NiSource, Southern Company Gas, UGI Energy Services and Williams–all of which have committed to adopting the guidelines put forth in the report. Notice that Nature Conservancy’s approach is not “never build another pipeline again”–as it is for most Big Green groups (including the ones we listed above). Instead, Nature Conservancy worked with pipeline companies to develop standards and practices that will protect the environment, while still allowing for pipeline construction. That is, they are being reasonable. Hats off to the Nature Conservancy for their efforts and reasonableness. Unfortunately for them, they are now sure to be ostracized by their Big Green brethren…
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FERC Approves Dominion Energy/SCANA Merger – Deal Still Alive

In January Dominion Energy announced a deal to buy out and merge in South Carolina-based SCANA Corporation (see Dominion Buys SCANA, Mulls Atlantic Coast Pipe Expansion into SC). SCANA is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. In other words, the local electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. Dominion is a big company with many operations–they are a pipeline company, an electric generating company, and a utility company (like SCANA). The merger makes sense. Dominion gets to grow and add more customers to its utility business, especially if they expand their now-under-construction Atlantic Coast Pipeline–flowing Marcellus/Utica gas–into South Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Future Plans: Expand in NC & SC). But there was recently a big bump in the road. SCANA had started, and later abandoned, building a nuclear plant, costing ratepayers boatloads of money. In June, the SC legislature passed a bill (vetoed by the governor but overridden) lowering SCANA’s electric rates by 15%. Dominion threatened to cancel the merger (see Dominion Bid to Buy SCANA in Trouble Following Passage of SC Bill). But then the sun came out. Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officially blessed the merger plan, and in announcing FERC’s approval, Dominion didn’t say a word about the 15% reduction or pulling out of the deal. All of that seems to now be forgotten. In fact, Dominion’s CEO told SC Gov. Henry McMaster that Dominion is not canceling buyout/merger plans, even with the bill…
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Interim EPA Chief Tries to Make Peace with DC Swamp Dwellers

Andrew Wheeler

MDN is not a fan of Andrew Wheeler, acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler assumed the role following the departure of Scott Pruitt, which (despite what Big Green liberals like the Athens News think), was railroaded out of town for his political and policy views, not for breaking any laws or corruption. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist (and a former EPA employee from years ago), believes “we can find common ground with Democrats.” He is sadly mistaken. In various articles Wheeler is called a Washington, DC insider. That’s code for swamp dweller. Wheeler doesn’t want to make waves by draining the EPA swamp. Which is exactly the wrong philosophy. You don’t make peace with your enemies. You CLEAN HOUSE. Get the swamp dwelling, overregulating Democrats out of the agency! Sadly, Wheeler is also a believer in the fairy tale of man-made catastrophic global warming. Our suspicions of Wheeler were, unfortunately, justified. We hope Trump wakes up and gets rid of him, pronto…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Jul 18, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Rig count drops in OH Utica as production rises; turnaround in WV construction jobs thx to shale; WV state officials must work to protect China deal; spotlight on Chevron’s head of Marcellus/Utica, Stacey Olsen; MDN called out by Athens News for supporting Scott Pruitt; America’s oil & gas boom is spreading; the future of energy is U.S. natgas; cybersecurity threats growing; FERC denies LNG approval delays; Trump & Putin; and more!
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