Tuesday, May 23, 2017

State Briefs


Proposal Hikes Charges, Decreases Credits for Future Solar Customers

In the second phase of a rate case decided in February, Tucson Electric Power recently proposed cutting solar export rates, mandating time-of-use rates and increasing a monthly meter fee for its future solar customers.

TEP proposed a solar export rate of 9.7 cents/kWh, compared with the current reimbursement of about 11.5 cents. The monthly meter fee, which is presently $2.05, would increase to $4.32.

New solar customers would have to choose either a two-part time-of-use rate under which usage rates go up during hours of peak demand, or a three-part time-of-use rate that includes a usage-based demand charge based on a period of highest hourly usage during the month.

More: Arizona Daily Star

Deal in Works to Keep Navajo Generating Station Open

Salt River Project Arizona Public Service

| Salt River Project

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye told coal miners Monday that a deal to keep the Navajo Generating Station running through 2019 would come this week.

Begaye said he and Salt River Project, one of the plant’s owners and its operator, reached a temporary lease-extension agreement and that he hopes to find new owners to run the plant for at least an additional nine years. The plant and Kayenta Mine, which supplies it, faced the possibility of closure this year because the utility owners concluded it is more economical to buy electricity from natural gas-fired power plants.

SRP has scheduled a meeting Thursday for board members to consider the lease, which also must be approved by the Navajo Nation Council.

More: The Arizona Republic


Wastewater from Nuclear Plant Eventually Flowing into Drinking Water

The University of Arkansas has begun disposing wastewater from the SEFOR nuclear plant into the city sewer system, where it will flow into a treatment plant and eventually into Beaver Lake, which is the area’s main source of drinking water.

The water was tested by an outside laboratory and the state Health Department, which found it to be two and one-half times below the limit for radioactive materials.

The department and the Beaver Water District said the dilution of the water throughout the various systems, coupled with its low radiation level, make it safe to drink.

More: KHBS


Chamber of Commerce Appeals Cap-and-Trade Ruling

The California Chamber of Commerce filed an appeal Monday to the state’s highest court asking it to overturn an appellate court decision in April upholding the legality of cap and trade.

The lawsuit argues cap and trade is a tax on businesses, which would have required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to create.

More: Capital Public Radio


Environmental Dept. Returns Pipeline’s Application for Water Permits

The state Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday kicked back PennEast Pipeline’s application for water permits for the $1 billion Marcellus Shale gas pipeline, citing deficiencies including the company’s lack of access to the private land of uncooperative owners.

PennEast can’t obtain the necessary easements along the pipeline’s 120-mile route until it receives FERC approval.

While environmentalists hailed the action as a victory, a PennEast spokeswoman said the company filed the application on April 6 as a “routine step” and is resolving “a few outstanding items.”

More: The Philadelphia Inquirer


Regulators Give Duke 60 Days to Answer Questions on Lee

State regulators are giving Duke Energy 60 days to answer more than a dozen questions regarding plans for its proposed Lee Nuclear Station given the financial troubles surrounding the Westinghouse Electric nuclear projects in Georgia and South Carolina.

Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse, which filed for Chapter 11 in March, is the designer and principal contractor for the reactor planned at Lee.

The Utilities Commission requested information including an assessment of Toshiba’s financial situation and its potential impact; descriptions of contracts Duke entered with Toshiba and its affiliates, including termination clauses; and an estimate of delays caused by Toshiba’s situation. Regulators also inquired whether the license issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is contingent on Duke’s use of Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor.

More: Charlotte Business Journal

Duke Seeking to Pass Along Coal Ash Cleanup Costs

Duke Energy is moving forward to bill ratepayers for some of its coal ash cleanup costs by striking cost-sharing deals with several dozen communities that buy their electricity wholesale for distribution on community-owned power lines.

Over the past several months, Duke has filed numerous petitions with FERC seeking approval of the agreements, which would affect at least 40 towns and cities. In June, the company plans to ask the Utilities Commission to pass along similar costs to retail customers, who are served by company-owned lines.

At issue in the community deals, and the upcoming state review, is how much of the coal ash expenses Duke should pay because of its own wrongdoing. Duke has admitted misconduct resulting in a massive coal ash spill three years ago at the retired Dan River Steam Station. The company subsequently pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act linked to coal ash handling at the Eden plant and at four other plants in the state.

More: Winston-Salem-Journal


Dakota Access Pipeline Leaks 104 Gallons of Oil in March

The Dakota Access Pipeline leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in the state in two separate incidents in March, according to state and federal agencies.

On March 3, 84 gallons spilled because of a leaky flange at a pipeline terminal in Watford City, according to the state Health Department. The spill did not affect people, wildlife or waterways, according to the department’s environmental database. On March 5, 20 gallons leaked in rural Mercer County, data from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration show. Contaminated soil was removed, but no waterways were affected and there were no reported injuries to people or wildlife.

Tribal leaders and their attorneys say the leaks, which are the pipeline’s second and third known leaks, lend support to their demand for further environmental review of the pipeline.

More: The Associated Press

EPA Approves Proposal for State Regulation of CO2 Wells

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt approved a proposal Tuesday that would make the state the first with the authority to regulate underground wells used for long-term storage of waste carbon dioxide captured from coal-fired power plants, paving the way for advancement of carbon capture and sequestration technology.

The proposal, which languished under the Obama administration, requires that the state’s rules for CO2 wells be as stringent as federal standards approved in 2010. EPA would oversee the program.

A final decision will be made after a 60-day public comment period that will follow publication in the Federal Register.

More: The Associated Press


Critics Say AEP’s Proposed Rate Hike Hurts EE, DG

Williams | NRDC

A proposal by American Electric Power to more than double fixed charges for its state utility customers has received backlash from critics who say it would discourage energy efficiency and distributed generation.

AEP is proposing to increase the current fixed rate from $8.40/month to $18.40/month by 2018, saying the increase will be accompanied by reductions in other charges, and the average ratepayer’s bill will only go up by a couple of dollars per month. An evidentiary hearing in the case is scheduled to start on June 6.

Samantha Williams, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said loading the upfront fees makes it harder for customers to see tangible savings from their energy efficiency and rooftop solar investments.

More: Midwest Energy News

Hearings Suspended on Bill to Subsidize FirstEnergy Nukes

A bill that would allow FirstEnergy to subsidize its nuclear plant fleet has stalled after the chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee suspended further hearings and a vote.

House Bill 178 would have added $300 million to FirstEnergy’s annual income for the next 15 years.

William Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who chairs the committee, said the committee heard 10 hours of testimony from both proponents and opponents, and that he did not sense a “keen desire” by House members to vote. Seitz did not anticipate more hearings soon “unless something cataclysmic should happen.”

More: The Plain Dealer


PUC Reviewing EV Charging Policies

The Public Utility Commission launched an in-house review last week to determine whether its policies relating to third-party electric vehicle charging stations are inhibiting development of the infrastructure.

The commission will explore the rates the state’s electric utilities apply to the stations and restrictions on the stations for reselling the power to motorists.

The state has 723 charging stations and 3,600 registered EVs as of 2016.

More: The Philadelphia Inquirer

PUC Dismisses Smart-Meter Case Following Complainant’s Death

State regulators Thursday dismissed a case by a Philadelphia smart-meter opponent without resolving her underlying claim that her meter’s electromagnetic pulses made her sick and, therefore, violated state law requiring utilities to provide “safe and reasonable” service.

The Public Utility Commission dismissed the case of a 59-year-old nurse who claimed she suffered “deleterious health effects” after PECO Energy installed the wireless meter, but that her symptoms went away when she replaced it with an older analog meter.

The nurse died in November from complications related to a fall in her home, and three of the five commissioners voted to dismiss her case for “lack of jurisdiction.” The executor of the nurse’s estate has 45 days to pursue the case but indicated he would not, as other customers are pursuing similar claims.

More: The Philadelphia Inquirer


Regulators Want to Limit Wind Project Noise to ‘Library’ Levels

Bray | Vermont

The Public Service Board has proposed limiting noise from future wind projects to sound levels that it characterized as quieter than a library, stream or refrigerator — and sent the new standards.

Under the proposed standards, sent last week to legislators for final review, sound measured 100 feet from nearby homes would be limited to 39 decibels at night and 42 during the day. The board had initially proposed a nighttime limit of 35 decibels.

Wind advocates said the 39-decibel limit is not achievable. However, Sen. Chris Bray, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, said rules substantially similar to the board’s proposal are already in effect in several European countries.

More: VTDigger


Gubernatorial Candidate Calling Hearing to Investigate Climate Order

A state senator who’s running a longshot campaign to become the next governor plans to call a legislative committee meeting to investigate Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s recent directive creating a plan to combat climate change.

Sen. Frank Wagner (R) hopes to call the meeting before Memorial Day weekend, ahead of the June 13 gubernatorial primary when he’ll face former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. Recent polls show Wagner at 15%, trailing the other two candidates.

Wagner, who chairs the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules, said it is his statutory duty to examine regulations that affect small businesses. He said if some perceive his actions as a move to help his political campaign, that’s “their own damn business.”

More: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Gov. Wants to Fill ‘Void’ Left by Trump on Cutting Carbon Emissions

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an order Tuesday asking regulators to craft rules aimed at power sector carbon emissions by Dec. 31.

In signing Executive Directive 11, McAuliffe asked regulators to propose a rule for the state air pollution control board that would enable the state to participate in a multistate cap-and-trade program, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for northeastern states.

McAuliffe said it is critical that states “fill the void” left by the Trump administration on cutting carbon emissions.

More: Reuters



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