Friday, August 18, 2017

Company Briefs

SCANA: Unlikely V.C. Summer Construction Will Restart

SCANA’s CEO does not see much chance of restarting construction at the scrapped V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion, notwithstanding withdrawal Tuesday by its subsidiary of a request to regulators that it be allowed to abandon the project.

Speaking to analysts in a conference call Wednesday, SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh said he considers the withdrawal by South Carolina Electric & Gas to be a temporary suspension. He also said he isn’t sure when SCE&G will move forward with plans to charge ratepayers for the project.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has been trying to find a new partner for the project, the costs of which have ballooned from an initial $9 billion in 2008 to at least $18 billion now.

More: Charlotte Business Journal; The Post and Courier

Washington Regulators Deny Rate Increase for Avista

Washington regulators last week denied a request by Avista for a 2.9% rate increase that would have amounted to an additional $15 million in revenue.

Avista had requested the increase to begin Sept. 1, citing higher power costs.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission’s refusal in December to grant Avista a rate increase for 2017 led to an earnings shortfall of $20 million to $30 million for the year, Kelly Norwood, the company’s vice president of state and federal regulation, wrote in a letter to the commission.

More: The Spokesman-Review

Talen Downsizing Pa. HQ; Opening 2nd Office Near Houston

Talen Energy is moving and downsizing its Allentown, Pa., headquarters and will open a second office outside Houston.

CEO Ralph Alexander on Tuesday sent an email to employees saying that the Allentown office will be one of two “center locations.” The other will be in The Woodlands outside Houston. Both centers will be smaller than the historic “Talen 1.0” HQ, said Alexander, who is based in Houston.

More than 500 people worked for Talen in its current headquarters, but the Allentown workforce will reportedly be reduced to less than 200 employees by next year when the company moves. The independent power producer, created in 2015 as a spin off from PPL, was acquired by private equity firm Riverstone Holdings last year.

More: The Morning Call

DTE Turning Off Power for Smart Meter Opponents

DTE Energy is shutting off power for customers who have resisted installing new digital electric meters in their homes.

Berris

DTE spokeswoman Randi Berris said the utility is close to completing its conversion to smart meters and expects to finish the project, which began in 2008, by the end of this year. Customers can opt out of the smart meter program for an initial fee of $67.20, plus $9.80/month.

Linda Kurtz, director of the Smart Meter Education Network, is concerned that electromagnetic fields generated by smart meters pose health hazards. Dozens of people gathered at her Ann Arbor, Mich., home Monday to protest the expected shutoff of her electricity.

More: MLive

Coal Company Warns It May File for Chapter 11

Armstrong Energy may need to seek Chapter 11 protection, according to a filing it made Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company, which operates five coal mines in western Kentucky, reported a $17.2 million second-quarter loss on revenue of $60.9 million. It didn’t make an $11.75 million interest payment that was due on June 15, and a forbearance agreement by holders of the debt was set to expire Monday.

More: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ScottMadden Forms New Practice; Bob Hevert to Lead

Energy consulting firm ScottMadden announced it has formed a new rates, regulation and planning practice and tapped Bob Hevert to be its leader.

The new practice will assist clients with rate development, regulatory policy and strategy, rate case preparation and management, market and risk assessment, resource planning, and demand forecasting.

Hevert joined the firm in 2016 and has provided expert testimony on more than 150 occasions for energy companies and financial institutions. He previously served as managing partner at Sussex Economic Advisors.

More: ScottMadden

Duke Entering NY with Purchase of Invenergy Solar Project

Duke Energy Renewables is making its New York entrance by acquiring the 24.9-MW Shoreham Solar Commons project on Long Island from Invenergy.

The project, which is currently under construction, is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2018. The Long Island Power Authority will purchase the power under a 20-year agreement.

More: Duke Energy

John Betkoski Named President of NARUC

Betkoski | © NARUC

Connecticut regulator John Betkoski III has assumed the presidency of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, replacing Robert Powelson, who was sworn in as a FERC commissioner last week.

Betkoski formerly served as NARUC’s first vice president and is the vice chairman of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. He will be formally installed in his new post at NARUC’s annual meeting in November.

Wisconsin Public Service Commission Chair Ellen Nowak is moving from her current position as second vice president to first vice president. The second vice president position will remain open until the November meeting.

More: National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners

BMW 2017 EV Sales Through July Exceed 50,000

BMW Group’s electric vehicle sales this year through July surpassed 50,000, showing an increase of 74.8% compared with the first seven months of 2016.

The automaker now has nine models of electric vehicles on the market. The BMW i3, with 10,260 sales in Europe, ranked as Europe’s third top-selling electric car. In the U.S., it had 3,593 sales and ranked as the ninth top-selling electric car.

More: CleanTechnica

Target Agrees to Buy 100 MW of Wind Energy

Target has agreed to buy 100 MW of output from Infinity Renewables’ 474-MW Solomon Forks wind project in Kansas to power 150 of its stores in the area. Construction is expected to begin and be completed in 2018.

More: Bloomberg

LeeRoy Wells Named VP of Operations at Consumers

Wells

Consumers Energy has announced that LeeRoy Wells Jr. will be named vice president of operations support, effective Aug. 16.

Wells, who joined Consumers in 2006, presently serves as executive director of electric systems operations and maintenance.

In his new role, he will be responsible for the company’s supply chain, corporate safety and health, fleet, facilities, and real estate departments.

More: Consumers Energy

Dairy Farmer Could Get Up to $13.5M from Xcel

A Wisconsin dairy farmer could be awarded up to $13.5 million after winning a lawsuit against Xcel Energy over stray voltage that caused illness and decreased milk production in his herd of nearly 1,000 cows for more than a decade.

According to the lawsuit, Xcel subsidiary Northern States Power found excessive voltage in one of the farmer’s barns in 1996 but didn’t report it. After the farmer hired a consultant and discovered high levels of electricity were coming from the utility’s distribution system, Xcel installed equipment to reduce stray voltage.

A jury awarded the farmer about $4.5 million, but the court may triple the award because the company was found in willful, wanton or reckless violation of statutes.

More: The Associated Press

Engineer Files Whistleblower Suit over Kemper Plant

A former Southern Co. engineer who reported safety concerns and falsification of operational reports at the company’s Kemper plant has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against Southern and its CEO.

Brett Wingo, who worked for Southern from 2007 to 2016, alleges violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and Mississippi state law after he repeatedly alerted management in 2013 and 2014 about concerns, including that the company’s reported commercial operations date was too optimistic.

In January 2017, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, after investigating claims that Wingo was subjected to retaliatory treatment, ordered Southern to reinstate him and pay him back pay and damages. To date, Southern has not done so.

More: Doyle

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