GRID: A recent cold snap produced few electricity disruptions, undercutting arguments by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that coal and nuclear plants need government support to keep lights on during cold weather events. (Washington Post, The Hill)
• Weak natural gas prices are hurting coal and nuclear operators more than renewable energy, according to a new report that could have implications for a DOE proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear. (Utility Dive)
• The Trump administration’s efforts to help coal and nuclear plants are drawing backlash from other energy sectors. (Reuters)
POLITICS: Colorado’s governor wants to restore state funding for the Colorado Energy Office, which has been a political football for Republican and Democratic lawmakers. (Denver Post)
UTILITIES: Baltimore Gas and Electric plans to pass roughly $82 million in annual tax savings on to customers by decreasing rates.
OIL & GAS: The Trump administration proposes opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, dealing a blow to environmental groups and lawmakers in coastal states. (New York Times, Common Dreams, Huffington Post)
• The plan would allow the first federal lease sales off California since 1984, sparking opposition from state officials and green groups. (Los Angeles Times)
• The offshore drilling proposal could make 2018 an even tougher election year for Republicans in coastal states. (McClatchy)
• Louisiana lawmakers praise the proposal’s potential to boost the economy and energy security. (The Advocate)
• Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard responds to an estimated 2,500 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi River in Louisiana.
COAL: A Pennsylvania coal mine will permanently close in the coming months, resulting in layoffs for 370 workers. The company cited high production costs stemming from the mine’s old age and poor geological conditions. (Associated Press)
OIL & GAS:
• New Mexico has surpassed Oklahoma and California to become the nation’s third-largest oil producer as production in the Permian Basin reaches record highs. (Associated Press)
• Brazil’s state-controlled oil company will pay nearly $3 billion to settle a U.S. class-action corruption lawsuit. (Reuters)
• Six small oil and natural gas drilling projects will receive about $30 million in federal research and development funds as part of the Trump administration’s effort to boost fossil fuels. (Reuters)
• A Democratic Florida senator says he will use the Congressional Review Act to block President Trump from overturning safety rules put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf water.
POLLUTION: Delaware officials say they will sue the EPA for allowing emissions from power plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to pollute the state’s air. (The Hill)
OIL & GAS:
• BP, Shell and other international companies will pay massive one-time charges to adjust to new U.S. tax rules, but the changes are expected to bring long-term financial benefits to the companies. (Reuters)
• FERC approves West Virginia’s Mountaineer XPress project, which is the second-largest natural gas expansion project in the Northeast, and the Gulf XPress project, which will add seven new compressor stations in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. (Platts)
EMISSIONS: Vehicles are the largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S., but that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from trying to roll back regulations on auto pollution. (The Guardian)
• A nonprofit in New Hampshire is installing solar arrays to provide energy to low-income families. (Associated Press)
• SunEdison emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is now a smaller, privately held firm.
REGULATION: The Trump administration rescinds an Obama-era rule that would have tightened environmental regulations for fracking on public lands. (Washington Post)
• President Trump moves to roll back safety rules for offshore oil drilling that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (New York Times)
• In a reversal of an Obama policy, the Trump administration will no longer prosecute wind, solar, oil and gas operators that accidentally kill migratory birds. (Washington Post)
EPA: How EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has worked to dismantle President Obama’s environmental legacy by transforming the agency’s mission. (Washington Post)
• New York and seven other northeastern states are suing the EPA to force the agency to restrict air pollution coming from upwind states in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. (Quartz)
• Breathing air with pollution levels well below national safety standards still leads to premature deaths for elderly Americans, according to a recent study. (Quartz)
OIL & GAS: U.S. crude oil production is nearing record highs thanks to drilling in shale oil fields around the country. (Washington Post)
• Coal mining giant Murray Energy slams three environmental groups for suggesting the company was instrumental in crafting a DOE proposal to subsidize coal-fired power plants.
NOTE TO READERS: U.S. Energy News is taking a break for the holidays, the daily digest will return on Tuesday, January 2. Also, donations through Dec. 31 will be doubled via the NewsMatch program, click here to contribute. Thanks for reading! TAX REFORM: The Republican tax bill headed for President Trump’s signature will take effect January 1 and has mixed consequences for energy, with benefits for utilities, oil companies and electric vehicles.
GRID: A long-term reliability assessment by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation undermines Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s claims about the importance of saving existing coal and nuclear plants. (Vox)
ALSO: After an 11-hour blackout delayed thousands of flights Sunday at the Atlanta airport, Georgia Power’s CEO stressed that the outage and its troubled Vogtle nuclear plant are “separate issues” as regulators prepare to decide the project’s fate. (Wall Street Journal)
UTILITIES: Minnesota-based Xcel Energy will leave the New York Stock Exchange later this month to begin trading on the Nasdaq market “as the company embraces technology and innovation.” (New York Business Journal)
• As wind farms face strong opposition in Maryland, much of the state’s renewable energy incentives are going to waste-to-energy projects that advocates say have questionable benefits. (Baltimore Sun)
• Chicago-based Invenergy files plans for a 250 MW wind project in central Illinois that it hopes to start building next year. (Bloomington Pantagraph)
BUILDINGS: Chicago’s chief sustainability officer is at the center of several of the city’s clean energy initiatives, including a major push toward building efficiency. (Midwest Energy News)
PIPELINES: The Nebraska Public Service Commission unanimously rejects TransCanada’s request to amend its application for a route across the state, which is expected to further delay the project. (Omaha World-Herald)
• UPS plans to buy 125 Tesla all-electric semi-trucks, the largest known pre-order so far for the big rigs.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Volkswagen settlement funds will be used to install 2,800 charging stations in 17 U.S. cities by June 2019, most of them at workplaces and multi-unit dwellings. (Los Angeles Times)
• Tesla is blocking new taxi drivers from using its Supercharger network. (Silicon Valley Business Journal)
• A look at what needs to happen before electric cars can become the norm. (New York Times)
RENEWABLES: A Minnesota electric cooperative is among the latest utilities to offer a commercial green tariff program in response to growing corporate demand for renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)
• Solar advocates are suing Montana’s Public Service Commission over its decision to slash the rates utilities pay to small renewable developers, saying it would hurt solar investment.
POLICY: The final GOP tax bill will preserve credits for renewable energy and electric vehicles, but the full extent of other changes remains uncertain. (New York Times, Greentech Media)
• A Canada-based company cancels plans for a 21-megawatt wind farm in central Montana, saying a price set by state regulators makes the project unrealistic. (Associated Press)
• The nation’s first offshore wind farm, located 3 miles off Block Island, Rhode Island, has positively impacted tourism in the area. (Associated Press)
• A slowdown in U.S. residential solar installations can be largely traced to SolarCity, which eased its aggressive marketing and expansion plans after being acquired by Tesla. (Reuters)
• White House documents obtained by Politico argue that cheap solar imports allow China to unfairly profit from Americans’ use of renewable power, which some fear could be an indication President Trump will impose tariffs on imported solar panels.
SOLAR: The U.S. solar market saw its lowest number of installations in two years during the third quarter of 2017, partially due to uncertainty over whether President Trump will impose solar tariffs, according to a new report. (Greentech Media, Reuters)
• This year is shaping up to be Oregon’s biggest ever for residential solar installations, with 12 megawatts already installed, according to a new report. (Portland Business Journal)
• BP acquires a 43 percent stake in Europe’s largest solar developer, which has plans to quadruple its capacity to 8 gigawatts through large-scale projects in the U.S. and other countries. (Reuters)
• Canada-based TransAlta says it cannot develop a wind project in Montana under “extremely difficult” terms set this week by state regulators. (Billing Gazette)
• Under a new agreement, the developers of two wind farms proposed for the Texas-New Mexico border will have to ensure 30 percent of plant costs involve subcontractors, vendors and labor from New Mexico.