Thursday, December 14, 2017

State Briefs

ARIZONA

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Rooftop Solar Case

The state Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review lower courts’ rulings that the state can’t require companies leasing rooftop solar systems to homeowners to pay property tax on the systems.

The Court of Appeals last May upheld a trial judge’s ruling that the Department of Revenue was wrong when it determined in 2013 that leased rooftop solar systems should be subject to property tax as electricity generating systems.

The trial judge’s ruling came in a case initiated by leasing companies SolarCity and SunRun, which sued the department.

More: The Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Assemblymember to Introduce Bill to Phase Out Gas Cars

State Assemblymember Phil Ting (D) plans to introduce a bill that would make producing and registering gasoline-powered cars illegal by 2040.

Ting will introduce the bill next month, when lawmakers return to Sacramento for the next legislative session, as part of a plan to phase out gas-powered cars in favor of electric and hydrogen fuel-cell cars.

The legislation would not require residents to replace their existing gasoline-powered cars. Rather, it would require automakers to offer electric cars and prohibit new gas-powered cars from being registered.

More: Newsweek

BART Board Approves 45-MW Solar PPA

The Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Board of Directors on Thursday approved an agreement to buy 45 MW of solar power from Recurrent Energy, the U.S. subsidiary of Canadian Solar.

The power purchase agreement is BART’s first for utility-scale solar power and was the result of a renewable energy procurement process that it launched in May as part of its Wholesale Electricity Portfolio Policy, which requires it to get all its power from renewable resources by 2045.

Recurrent will provide power to BART from its 45-MW Gaskell West 2 PV project in southern California, which it expects will reach commercial operation in 2020.

More: PV-Tech

Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Power Going Coal-free

The City of Santa Clara’s electric utility Silicon Valley Power said last week it will become coal-free on Dec. 31, when it ends its ownership in the San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico. The utility said it will replace the power from with energy from renewable and natural gas sources.

More: Silicon Valley Power

IDAHO

PUC Sets RMP’s Wind, Solar PURPA Integration Rates

The Public Utilities Commission has approved a proposal by Rocky Mountain Power to lower the rate charged to integrate wind energy into the utility’s system under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act to 57 cents/MWh from $3.06/MWh.

The commission also set the solar integration rate at 60 cents/MWh. The rates apply to facilities that qualify for 20-year contracts under PURPA.

More: Idaho Public Utilities Commission

PUC Approves Customer Exchange Agreement

The Public Utilities Commission has approved a customer exchange agreement between Rocky Mountain Power and the city of Idaho Falls.

The agreement establishes processes for determining which entity will provide electric service to new customers in certain areas and for handling transfers of service among RMP customers in areas annexed by the city.

A previous agreement governing the service transfers expired in 2015 at the city’s request. The two sides had worked since then to forge a new agreement.

More: Idaho Public Utilities Commission

ILLINOIS

Commerce Commission Approves ComEd Rate Hike

The Commerce Commission has approved a rate increase for Commonwealth Edison that will generate about $95.6 million in additional revenue for the utility next year.

The commission sets ComEd’s distribution rate annually under the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, which was passed in 2011 and laid out a 10-year plan for utilities to install smart meters.

ComEd is set to complete its installation of about 4.2 million smart meters by the end of next year, which is three years early.

More: Chicago Tribune

Commerce Commission Approves Ameren Rate Decrease

The Commerce Commission on Wednesday approved a plan by Ameren Illinois that will reduce the bill of the company’s typical residential customer by $1.70/month starting next month, the company said.

The rate decrease is the second in a row and fifth overall rate decrease for Ameren since the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, or Smart Grid Bill, was passed in 2011, the company said.

More: Ameren

IOWA

GHG Emissions down, Driven by Shift from Coal to Wind

Greenhouse gas emissions in the state fell 2% last year from 2015, their second consecutive decline, according to a report issued by the Department of Natural Resources.

Emissions from power plants fell 14%, offsetting emissions from other sources, which rose about 5%.

Power plant emissions have declined 40% from their 2010 peak, reflecting the shift in the state’s generation mix. Coal plants now provide 47% of the state’s power, down from 78% in 2005, while wind provides 37% of the state’s power, up from 4%.

More: Radio Iowa

MAINE

PUC Opens Inquiry into Storm Restoration Efforts

The Public Utilities Commission voted Tuesday to open an inquiry into the efforts by Central Maine Power and Emera Maine to restore power after an October storm that caused the largest outage in state history.

The PUC asked the companies to file reports detailing their responses and lessons learned in 30 days. It also said it wanted to know how the state’s electric utilities and regulated phone companies worked together after the storm and whether their coordination efforts need to be changed.

The 30-day deadline — a tight time frame for data gathering, especially during the holiday season — was a signal that regulators see the issue as a priority, said Barry Hobbins, the state’s public advocate.

More: Portland Press Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

National Grid Details Response to October Storm

National Grid said in a final event report filed with the Department of Public Utilities that the wind storm that hit the Merrimack Valley overnight between Oct. 29 and 30 knocked out power to 330,610 of its customers in 166 of the 172 communities it serves in the state.

The company said it had to replace 311 poles, 90 transformers and 32,000 feet of electrical wire during the restoration effort.

The DPU directed National Grid to file the report by Monday; it became publicly available late Tuesday afternoon. The department demanded the report on Nov. 7, just over a week after the storm hit.

More: The Salem News

Savoy Residents to Decide on Wind Farm Ban

Residents of Savoy will decide at meetings on Dec. 20 and 21 whether to ban wind farm development.

Their decision will not affect a $31 million, five-turbine, 12.5-MW wind farm proposed by Minuteman Wind. That project, however, is in limbo after Savoy residents in September rejected Minuteman’s request for a bylaw change that would have allowed it to increase the height of the turbines by 30 to 455 feet.

It was Minuteman’s request for a bylaw change that prompted residents to begin a drive to ban wind farms.

More: The Berkshire Eagle

Cape Wind Ceases Development, 3 Other Developers Press on

Cape Wind Associates said Friday it has notified the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that it has ceased development of its proposed offshore wind farm project in Nantucket Sound and has filed to terminate the offshore wind development lease it was issued in 2010.

Cape Wind’s opponents, including fishermen, Native American tribes, local officials and private citizens, had long argued that the project posed hazards to navigation, marine life, birds and the local economy. The project received one major setback in 2015, when Eversource Energy and National Grid ended their contracts to buy power from it, and another in 2016 when the state Energy Facilities Siting Board declined to extend permits for it that were originally issued in 2009.

Three other proposed wind farms that would be 15 to 20 miles off Martha’s Vineyard and 30 miles from the mainland have yet to encounter organized opposition. Those wind farms’ developers are competing to supply electricity to state utilities Eversource, National Grid and Unitil. Their responses to a state request for proposals are due Dec. 20.

More: Cape Cod Times; The Republican

DPU Grants Eversource Lower Rate Increases than Requested

The Department of Public Utilities on Thursday granted rate increases for Eversource Energy that were much less than the ones sought by the utility.

The department said Eversource’s customers in eastern Massachusetts will pay an additional $12 million a year while its customers in western Massachusetts will pay more than $24 million more annually.

Eversource had sought an increase of $90 million for both regions combined.

More: The Boston Globe

State Awards Agricultural Energy Grants

The administration of Gov. Charlie Baker has awarded $908,259 in agricultural energy grants to 29 farms.

The Department of Agricultural Resources says the grants are expected to save farmers a collective $200,000 per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 660 tons annually.

Most of the grants are for solar photovoltaic energy systems. Others are for more unusual projects, such as “heat pads for piglets” at Shinglebrook Farm in Shelburne.

More: The Republican

MICHIGAN

State, Enbridge Reach Temporary Agreement on Line 5

The state and Enbridge on Monday announced an agreement to enhance safeguards on Enbridge’s Line 5, dual oil and natural gas liquids pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac.

The agreement follows the release of a contractor’s analysis on alternatives to the pipelines and reports of widespread protective coating gaps and damage that Enbridge knew about three years ago but did not disclose until earlier this fall.

The agreement is not meant to be permanent. The state and Enbridge will try to negotiate an additional agreement by next August. If they can’t, the state could shut down the pipelines.

More: MLive

MINNESOTA

State OSHA Investigating Death at Biomass Plant

The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday it is investigating the death of a man who fell into a hopper last Wednesday at the Benson Power biomass plant.

The agency has investigated the plant, which is also known as Fibrominn, twice since 2012 and fined it both times.

The 55-MW plant burns turkey manure mixed with wood chips to produce power for Xcel Energy. State regulators on Nov. 30 approved Xcel’s plan to close Benson and two other biomass plants. Xcel does not own the plant, but plans to buy it before closing it.

More: Star Tribune

PUC Allows Xcel to Exit Biomass Power Commitments

The Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved a plan by Xcel Energy that will result in the closing of three biomass generators.

Xcel plans to buy and close a plant in the town of Benson that burns turkey manure to produce electricity. It also will buy out its contract to purchase power from two wood-burning plants on the Iron Range.

In response to Xcel’s contention that the biomass plants were its most expensive power producers, the legislature earlier this year allowed it to end its biomass power contracts about 10 years before their expiration, pending PUC approval.

More: Star Tribune

Community Solar Gardens Boosting State’s Solar Capacity

The state’s solar capacity grew by 114 MW, to 612 MW, from July through October, according to the Department of Commerce. It grew 366 MW in the first 10 months of 2017, more than doubling 246 MW of solar capacity the state had at the end of 2016.

Most of the recent gains came from community solar gardens built for Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program. As of Oct. 31, the state had 200 MW of community solar gardens, 197.5 MW of which are designated for Xcel’s program.

More: KELO

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Power, PUS Reach Deal on Kemper Costs

Mississippi Power reached a deal with the Public Utilities Staff on Friday to accept an $853 million valuation of its Kemper County power plant, $85 million less than it was seeking. The reduction will cut to $112.6 million the amount that the Southern Co. subsidiary can recoup for the plant from its retail customers.

The Public Service Commission has postponed the rate hearings involving the plant that were to begin Monday to allow comments on the deal. The commission is likely to rule on the issue in January.

The plant’s total cost is $7.5 billion, but much of that is associated with coal-gasification technology that was scrapped after massive cost overruns. Southern shareholders have absorbed $6 billion of the cost. Southern also said on Friday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ended its fraud investigation into whether the utility misled investors about Kemper and won’t recommend any enforcement action.

More: The Associated Press; The Associated Press

MISSOURI

Legislation Would Cap Average Rate Increases to 3% a Year

State Rep. T.J. Berry (R) has pre-filed legislation that would cap average electric rate increases to 3% every year.

Berry said the legislation would give energy consumers rate certainty for probably five years.

Ameren said it was Berry was “continuing to work with all parties, including consumer groups, toward a solution.”

More: KSPR

Clean Line Files Briefs in Appeal of PSC’s Grain Belt Express Denial

Clean Line Energy Partners on Tuesday filed briefs in the state Court of Appeals’ Eastern District challenging the Public Service Commission’s rejection of its request for a certificate of convenience and necessity for a portion of its $2.3 billion Grain Belt Express transmission project.

The briefs claim the PSC erred in denying Clean Line’s application, citing the commission’s deference to a ruling involving another transmission project by the court’s Western that said the PSC couldn’t approve the project until each county in the project’s path had approved it.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for February but could be rendered unnecessary if the state Supreme Court agrees to Clean Line’s request that it hear the case.

More: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ameren Files with PSC to Create Subscription Wind Program

Ameren Missouri on Monday filed a proposal with the Public Service Commission to create the Renewable Choice Program, which would allow cities and companies that are Ameren customers to subscribe to wind power for up to 100% of their electricity needs.

Ajay Arora, Ameren’s vice president of environmental services and generation resource planning, said the program would be a follow-up to the plan the company filed with the PSC in September to spend $1 billion to add 700 MW of wind generation by 2020.

Arora said the program would be the first of its kind offered by an investor-owned utility in the state. Several large Ameren customers have expressed interest in the program, he said.

More: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEBRASKA

TransCanada Asks PSC to Reconsider Decision on Keystone

TransCanada has asked the Public Service Commission to reconsider its order approving an alternate route for the Keystone XL pipeline.

A TransCanada spokesman said the company was seeking a “clarification” on the PSC’s decision. The route for the pipeline approved by the PSC was not the route that TransCanada preferred.

More: Reuters

NEW HAMPSHIRE

PUC Approves Eversource Sale of Fossil Plants for $175M

The Public Utilities Commission approved Eversource Energy’s sale of three fossil fuel plants and two combustion turbines for $175 million to Granite Shore Power, which is a newly formed 50-50 partnership between Atlas Holdings and Castleton Commodities International.

The commission is still considering Eversource’s proposed sale of nine hydroelectric facilities to Hull Street Energy for $83 million.

Both sales are part of a two-decade effort to deregulate the state’s power market.

More: New Hampshire Union Leader

NEW JERSEY

Federal Grant to Fund EV Charging Station Installations

The state has received a $9.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to accelerate the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at workplaces, reduce diesel emissions from refrigerated trucks unloading and loading shipments, and reduce emissions from passenger ferries.

The departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection will administer the programs funded by the grant, which are designed to curb air pollution that contributes to ground-level ozone (smog) and greenhouse gas emissions.

The funding could result in to up to 500 new charging stations being deployed in a program that builds upon the “Pay$ to Plug In” EV program launched last year by the DEP and Board of Public Utilities. That awarded nearly $850,000 to fund 180 workplace charging stations at 66 locations.

More: NJ Spotlight

NEW MEXICO

PRC Dismisses Challenge to Decision on PNM Solar Purchase

The Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday dismissed a request by New Energy Economy to overturn a Nov. 15 decision to accept Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (PNM) plan to buy 50 MW of power from Affordable Solar for $44.63/MWh.

New Energy’s executive director, Mariel Nanasi, argued that PNM last year received bids from other companies as low as $41.63/MWh. She also pointed out that the commission earlier this year approved a plan in which PNM contracted with Affordable Solar for the planned Facebook facility in Valencia County with a ceiling price of only $39.85/MWh.

New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers, which also opposes the plan, has appealed the commission’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

More: Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

NYPA Opens Integrated Smart Operations Center

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the opening of a digitized power asset monitoring and diagnostic center at the New York Power Authority’s headquarters in White Plains.

The Integrated Smart Operations Center uses GE Digital’s predictive analytics software to monitor NYPA’s 16 power plants and more than 1,400 circuit miles of transmission lines to spot issues that could cause equipment failures and significant outages so they can be dealt with before they do.

More: Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Verizon Uses State Rebate Program to Buy 234 EVs

Verizon has replaced 234 gasoline-powered vans with hybrid-electric vans it bought using rebates provided by the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The telecommunications giant plans to use the vans in New York City.

The program provides point-of-sale rebates to businesses and municipalities that purchase new clean vehicles or retrofit commercial vehicles and buses into hybrids, natural gas vehicles or zero-emission vehicles. NYSERDA said Verizon’s purchase was the largest in the program’s history.

More: NYSERDA

Clean Energy Competition Accepting Applications for 3rd Round

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the 76West Clean Energy Competition has begun accepting applications from emerging clean energy companies for its third round.

The competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and is part of a strategy to boost the economy of the state’s Southern Tier, which consists of the counties west of the Catskill Mountains along the northern border of Pennsylvania. It will accept applications through April 16, 2018.

The six winners, which will be announced next year, will receive a total of $2.5 million in prizes ($1 million grand prize, one $500,000 prize and four $250,000 prizes), provided they move to the Southern Tier or establish a direct connection with the region, such as contracting for supplies with a Southern Tier company, that creates jobs in it. Companies already in the Southern Tier must commit to substantially growing their business and employment in the region.

More: Gov. Andrew Cuomo

NY Green Bank Issues RFP for Clean Energy Investment

NY Green Bank said Friday it has issued a request for proposals related to its goal of raising at least $1 billion in third-party capital to support the state’s energy goals.

The division of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority seeks to bring on a firm or group of firms to evaluate strategies for raising, investing and managing the money.

NY Green Bank said the issuance of the RFP was an important step in its previously announced intention to expand availability of financing for clean energy projects both within and beyond the state.

More: NY Green Bank

Cuomo Announces $3.5 Million for EV Projects

The state will provide up to $3.5 million to fund projects to speed the use of electric vehicles, reduce the cost of installing and running EV charging stations, and show how EVs can be used to boost grid resiliency, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is seeking proposals for research projects that show the potential impact of EVs on job growth, technical advances and the overall economy. The agency is particularly interested in proposals for innovative business models and technologies to better manage the relationship between EVs and the grid.

More: Gov. Andrew Cuomo

NYCHA Posts List, Map of Sites for Solar Development

The New York City Housing Authority has posted a list and interactive map of more than 200 sites across the city that it will be making available for solar development under its Public Purpose Shared Solar program.

Under the program, smaller rooftops are made available at low or no cost to community-based organizations and nonprofits teaming up with solar developers to install community shared solar systems that will serve low- to moderate-income households and provide green jobs for housing authority residents.

The program is part of a housing authority initiative to install 25 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2025.

More: NY Solar Map

Empire State Connector Seeking Expressions of Interest

Empire State Connector Corp. has gotten permission from FERC to seek nonbinding “expressions of interest” from entities interested in delivering power to the 1,000-MW, HVDC transmission line it wants to build from Utica to New York City.

The company intends to submit plans for the line to the Public Service Commission by the end of the year and hopes to have it in service by 2022.

The line, which would be buried under the Erie Canal and Hudson River, is meant to carry hydroelectric or nuclear power downstate. The company developing it is backed by two Toronto companies — oneGRID and Forum Equity Partners.

More: Albany Times Union

NORTH CAROLINA

Duke Could Recover $300M from Insurers for Coal Ash Cleanup

Duke Energy Progress told the Utilities Commission in a filing Wednesday that it could recover as much as $300 million from insurance companies for coal ash liability, which would reduce the amount it would need to charge its customers for cleanup.

The filing was in response to a request from the commission in a rate case in which Duke is seeking to charge its customers $190 million a year for coal ash clean up.

The insurance companies deny owing Duke any money for the cleanup. The company is suing them over the issue.

More: Charlotte Business Journal

NORTH DAKOTA

PSC Commissioner Named Secretary of OMS

Fedorchak | ND PSC

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak has been appointed secretary of the Organization of MISO States.

The appointment also gives Fedorchak a spot on the MISO Advisory Committee, which advises the MISO Governing Board.

More: The Bismarck Tribune

PSC Approves New Xcel Tx Line near Fargo

The Public Service Commission on Wednesday issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a 5-mile transmission line in the Fargo area Wednesday that it hopes will improve Xcel Energy’s reliability.

The 115-kV line will connect two substations on Fargo’s north side. It will largely follow an existing rail line from west of I-29 to southwest of the North Dakota State University campus.

The commission also issued an amended route permit for a 345-kV transmission line to run from a new substation near Ellendale to the South Dakota border. The North Dakota portion of the project, proposed by Montana-Dakota Utilities and Otter Tail Power, is only 9 miles long, but it will ultimately run to Big Stone City, S.D.

More: The Bismarck Tribune

OHIO

Senator Introduces Bill to Revive Wind Farm Development

State Sen. Matt Dolan (R) has introduced legislation meant to revive wind farm development, which has been stymied since 2014 by restrictive zoning rules added to an unrelated budget bill.

Dolan’s bill would reduce the setback distances for wind turbines, as would a bill introduced earlier this year. Unlike the earlier bill, however, Dolan’s bill references the state tax code, which gives counties the authority to negotiate lower property taxes for developers in exchange for whatever the county or its residents want.

The reference is meant to reassure local governments that they have the ability to control wind projects, thereby alleviating the need for the 2014 rules.

More: The Plain Dealer

Cincinnati Signs Clean Energy Contract with Dynegy

Cincinnati has signed a contract with Dynegy to procure 100% green energy to power its police and fire stations, health clinics, recreation centers and most of its administrative buildings.

The contract, which begins in January and runs through 2021, doesn’t include Metropolitan Sewer District or Cincinnati Water Works facilities or city streetlights.

The agreement is expected to reduce the city’s utility rates by more than $100,000 and cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 9.1%.

More: Cincinnati Business Courier

OKLAHOMA

ALJ Recommends Lower Rate Increase for PSO

A Corporation Commission administrative law judge issued an order Monday recommending that Public Service Company of Oklahoma be granted a rate increase of $81.2 million, less than half the $169.7 million it sought.

Stan Whiteford, a spokesman for the utility, said it’s disappointed the judge didn’t give it a higher return on equity or compensation for retiring an old coal-fired plant that was well past its prime.

Whiteford said the company is reviewing the recommendation and will file a response with the commission.

More: The Oklahoman

RHODE ISLAND

National Grid Seeks Electric, Gas Rate Hikes

Raimondo

National Grid on Monday filed a request with the Public Utilities Commission to increase its electric distribution rate by an amount that would boost its annual revenue by $41.3 million.

The company said the increase would hike monthly bills by 6% for residential customers and 3 to 9% for commercial industrial customers, depending on their size and how much power they use. National Grid is also seeking an increase in its natural gas distribution rate that would boost its annual revenue by $30.3 million.

Gov. Gina Raimondo and Macky McCleary, administrator of the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, blasted the request.

More: Providence Journal; National Grid

Final Hearings on Clear River Energy Center Pushed Back to March

The Energy Facility Siting Board approved a 90-day extension to the permitting process for the $1 billion natural gas-fired power plant that Invenergy wants to build in Burrillville.

The extension, which was granted in response to a motion from the Conservation Law Foundation, pushes back the start of final hearings on the Clear River Energy Center until March.

Deliberations for the application were supposed to wrap up early this year, but Invenergy had difficulty securing a necessary source of water for the combined cycle facility’s secondary steam turbines.

More: Providence Journal

SOUTH DAKOTA

PUC Declines to Reconsider Wind Farm Application

The Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday denied the request to reconsider its Oct. 25 decision to reject an application to build the Crocker Wind Farm in Clark County.

One reason for the rejection was that company that wants to build the wind farm had submitted multiple layouts for it.

A lawyer representing Clark County landowners said state law requires an application to build a wind farm to contain one design for it.

More: The Daily Republic

Would-Be Wind Farm Developer Terminates Easements

Dakota Power Community Wind has terminated its easements with 122 property owners in Lincoln County, likely signaling the end of its attempt to build a wind farm south of Sioux Falls.

The company initially proposed building what would have been the state’s largest wind farm, with up to 500 turbines producing up to 1,000 MW of power.

After three years of controversy and a well-organized, countywide pushback from opponents, commissioners passed a setback ordinance so strict the company dubbed it a ban on wind development. Voters upheld the commission’s decision in July.

More: Argus Leader

TENNESSEE

Survey: Voters Support Retail Choice, Solar

A statewide survey of 600 voters found that 83% think municipalities or power cooperatives in the Tennessee Valley should be able to buy power from generators other than the Tennessee Valley Authority in order to get cheaper or renewable power. TVA prohibits third-party power sales in its seven-state area.

The survey, which was commissioned by groups interested in promoting solar generation, also found that 81% of respondents want the state to increase its use of solar power, and 88% would use more solar energy in their home if it cost the same as or less than their current power source.

More: Times Free Press

VIRGINIA

Enviros Sue to Review Mountain Valley Permits

A coalition of environmental groups called Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed a lawsuit Friday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a review of the permits issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline by the Water Control Board.

The coalition says the board and the Department of Environmental Quality rushed the review process. The state has said the pipeline faced a rigorous regulatory process.

More: The Associated Press

Mountain Valley Pipeline Gets Water Quality Certification

The Water Control Board voted 5-2 Thursday to issue a water quality certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would move natural gas through six counties in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

The board was charged with determining whether there was “reasonable assurance” that the pipeline’s construction would not contaminate water along the pipeline’s route.

More: The Associated Press

New Hearings Announced for Controversial Dominion Tx Project

The State Corporation Commission said Wednesday it will hold new hearings on Dominion Energy’s proposal for new power lines in Prince William County, postponing a decision on the project that has been opposed by nearby residents for nearly two years.

Dominion wants to install 230-kV lines between Haymarket and Gainesville to serve a new computer data center.

The commission ruled earlier this year that the 5.1-mile route could go through a neighborhood where the descendants of a former slave have lived for nearly 120 years. In September, however, Dominion said that route was no longer feasible, after county officials refused to grant it permission to use county-owned land.

More: The Washington Post

Dominion Exec Says Time to Move on from Rate Freeze Law

Webb | Dominion

Dominion Energy Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs Mark Webb on Monday told the General Assembly’s Commission on Electric Utility Regulation that “it’s time to transition away” from a 2015 law that froze the base rates of Dominion and Appalachian Power as a hedge against carbon regulation.

The law has been controversial because it has prevented state regulators from ordering the utilities to refund money to their customers. The State Corporation Commission said in September that Dominion, which serves 67% of the state’s electric customers, would owe them between $133 million and nearly $176 million for 2015 and 2016 if rate reviews were in place.

“Under any regulatory construct, there will be years with excess earnings due to favorable weather, the absence of severe storms, economic growth and business efficiencies,” Webb said. “The General Assembly may wish to consider a reinvestment model, where in years when there are such excess earnings, they are reinvested in modernizing and transforming the electricity grid.”

More: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Reports Take Opposing Views on Dominion Coal Ash Ponds

Two reports released last week took opposite views of what Dominion Energy should do with the coal ash ponds at four of its power plants in the state.

A report mandated by the General Assembly and prepared for Dominion said leaving the ponds in place and covering them would be cheaper than recycling the ash or moving it to landfills.

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and the Southern Environmental Law Center said it’s “technically, logistically and economically feasible” for Dominion to begin recycling the coal ash.

More: The Associated Press; Inside NOVA

WASHINGTON

UTC Approves Colstrip Closure Settlement

The Utility and Transportation Commission on Tuesday approved a settlement in a Puget Sound Energy rate case that outlines how the company will fund the closing and cleanup costs of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant in Montana, which it owns a large stake in.

The settlement does not set closure dates for Colstrip’s two newer and larger units, but it moves up the year by which PSE can recover the costs of those units to 2027 from 2045.

Colstrip’s two older units are already required to close by July 1, 2022, under an agreement reached last year between environmentalists and PSE and Talen Energy, which has a stake in Colstrip. The settlement approved Tuesday establishes “a financing mechanism” for decommissioning and cleaning up the older units.

More: The Associated Press

WISCONSIN

Dairyland Gets Permits to Allow for Endangered Species Losses

The Department of Natural Resources is preparing to issue permits to allow for incidental losses of two endangered species when Dairyland Power Cooperative rebuilds 68 miles of power lines in the western part of the state.

One of the species, Blanchard’s cricket frogs, lives in the area between Platteville and Menominee, Ill., where Dairyland plans to spend about $11.6 million to replace about 36 miles of a roughly 30-year-old line.

The other species, the massasauga rattlesnake, lives in the Tiffany Wildlife Area, where Dairyland plans to do soil borings as part of a $7.5 million rebuild of 32 miles of nearly 70-year-old lines between Alma and Rock Elm.

More: La Crosse Tribune

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