December 2019 News

December 2019

12-31-19 Solar Builder. Renewable energy could top natural gas in new capacity added in U.S. in 2019. “According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data recently released by both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for the first ten months of 2019, the mix of renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) is on track to place first in the race for new U.S. electrical generating capacity added in 2019. FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through October 31, 2019) reveals that natural gas holds a diminishing lead for 2019 with 49.67% of all new generating capacity compared to 48.45% for the mix of renewables (i.e., wind – 28.55%, solar – 18.59%, hydropower – 0.83%, biomass – 0.41%, geothermal – 0.06%). The balance of new capacity added includes nuclear power (0.99%), oil (0.49%), coal (0.39%), and “other” (0.01%).”

12-30-19 S&P Global. Market, investor pressures to weigh on Appalachian natural gas production growth next year. “Growing pressure on Appalachian producers from low prices, midstream constraints and a hawkish investor community could be enough in 2020 to finally pause a decade-long rise in the basin’s natural gas production. …. Over the past nine months, gas prices at Appalachia’s primary supply hub, Dominion South, have averaged less than $2/MMBtu, testing wellhead breakeven values, even for the most efficient, low-cost producers. …. Among the remaining projects with scheduled completion dates in 2020, 2021 or 2022 — including Atlantic Coast Pipeline (1.5 Bcf/d), PennEast Pipeline (1.1 Bcf/d), Northern Access (500 MMcf/d) and Constitution Pipeline (650 MMcf/d) — stalled permits and legal battles over permit validity are stopping pipeline construction from proceeding or in some cases even starting.”

12-30-19 Virginia Mercury. Natural gas development is speeding up in Virginia. Legislators will have to square that with state climate goals. “This September, Gov. Ralph Northam took the stage at the inaugural Virginia Clean Energy Summit to announce he was committing the state to a carbon-free grid by 2050. …. But as the governor received a standing ovation, elsewhere in the commonwealth work was underway to massively expand infrastructure supporting a very different — and decidedly not carbon-free — type of energy: natural gas. The past year has seen a flow of investments in natural gas in Virginia, from ongoing work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and continued efforts to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to plans by state utilities and private investors to build up to 12 new natural gas plants. Now, as the General Assembly prepares to convene this January under new Democratic leadership, lawmakers are struggling to chart a course for Virginia’s energy policy in a state split between carbon-free goals and intensive natural gas investment.”

12-29-19 Wake Weekly [NC]. Pipeline property owners in waiting game: Supreme Court to weigh in on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “A stay stopping the project actions issued by U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle in the Eastern District of North Carolina has expired. The stay affects property owners in Wilson, Nash, Halifax and Northampton counties. …. Boyle lifted the stay on Oct. 28 and has directed the cases to proceed. Collectively, the 14 property owners filed a motion to reconsider on Dec.10. ‘We have submitted a second request for that in view of the fact that the Appalachian Trail crossing case is going to the Supreme Court,’ Winstead said. ‘Those arguments will be heard in late February. In fact, our side of the Appalachian Trail arguments will be presented on Feb. 24. We get to go last in that case. And then the court will consider and render its written decision sometime in May or June.’ If the court rules in opposition to the ACP crossing the Appalachian Trail, the developer would be forced to consider a reroute in order for the project to go forward.”

12-27-19 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Stop the pipelines; repurpose those resources. “When former Vice President Al Gore came to Buckingham County Middle School in February, he showed one slide that has stuck with me: Emissions from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would nearly double the current emissions from all of Virginia’s existing power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Also according to the clean-energy group Oil Change International, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would severely increase greenhouse emissions in Virginia. …. I encourage other citizens in Virginia, regardless of party affiliation, to speak the truth to those in power about this contribution to the climate emergency and to stop the building of the compressor station and the ACP and MVP pipelines. Why not use those resources to build renewable energy infrastructure instead?”

12-27-19 Blue Virginia. Why Does the Misnamed Virginia Clean Economy Act Propose Slow Walking the Transition Away from Electricity Generated by Fracked Gas? “Last week, a group of legislators and environmental organizations held a press conference in Richmond to push a bill they are calling the ‘Virginia Clean Economy Act’ (VCEA). The bill itself, which to date has not been released publicly, was developed in part by an industry trade association called Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). As others have noted, VCEA’s renewable energy goals are far more timid than, for example, the Green New Deal Act, HB 77, introduced by Delegate Sam Rasoul on December 6. Adam Siegel, a long time energy professional, has called VCEA ‘business as usual’ and noted that it relies on 2018 data from Dominion Energy that already has been rejected as unreliable by the State Corporation Commission.”

12-26-19 Staunton News Leader. The ACP as parasitic worm. “Burrowing beneath the skin of the earth all across America, new oil and gas pipelines are erupting in a rash of environmental destruction. More than 20,000 miles of new pipelines were built between 1998 and 2008, and tens of thousands more are under construction or proposed. Extreme energy extraction through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas and oil demands extreme infrastructure support. Leaving soil-bleeding scars as they excavate ever forward, these pipelines are subsidized by taxpayer dollars but designed for corporate profits. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be one of the most destructive if it is allowed.”

12-25-19 Nelson County Times. Nelson planning commission recommends approval of extended-stay campsite. “On Dec. 18, the Nelson County Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend approval of a special use permit application from Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland to allow 47 wet RV sites — meaning they have a water and sewer hookup — and 10 future cabins to be extended-stay campgrounds. Travelers would be able to stay for up to 180 days. The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will hear the request at its January meeting.”

12-25-19 Washington Post. Fairfax solar plan could spur change to Va. law meant to shield Dominion Energy from competitors. “Fairfax County is moving to buy energy from contractors who would install solar panels on more than 100 county buildings, part of a growing environmental effort that aims to remove protections against competition given to the powerful Dominion Energy company. …. That goal runs counter to Dominion-friendly state restrictions that limit how much solar energy can be created through such “power purchase agreements.” The restrictions, part of a 2013 pilot program, mandate that the amount of energy generated through those agreements be kept below 50 megawatts throughout Dominion’s service area…. With more local governments and Virginia school districts pursuing solar agreements, the state cap is almost reached, renewable energy advocates say. They predict the Fairfax effort will spur attempts by the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly to eliminate the restrictions.”

12-23-19 The American Prospect. Through Snow and Rain, Tree Sitters Continue to Fight a Gas Pipeline. “The protests, intended to slow down the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia, are now in their second year. …. Though construction has ceased for the time being, the pipeline company continues maintenance and erosion control at the construction site across from the Yellow Finch blockade, where protesters remain to prevent trees from being cleared. Environmental groups continue to fight in court to delay the pipeline, with the ultimate goal of preventing its completion.”

12-23-19 E&E News. 8 energy battles to watch in 2020. “The start of the new decade will be a milestone year for litigation on energy issues. Federal courts will kick off 2020 with arguments and hearings in cases that could more clearly define federal authority over the oil, gas and electricity sectors and agencies’ duty to consider environmental harms from energy use and development. The battles are scattered across district and appellate benches, and at least one case has made its way to the Supreme Court.” [Three of the eight cases to watch are pipeline cases: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Penn East, and Atlantic Sunrise.]

12-23-19 Washington Post. What Trump was talking about in his baffling rant about wind energy. “The line about fumes was clunky and attracted attention. But, rest assured, it will either be streamlined and refined or cut from the rotation entirely in Trump’s future speeches. What’s important to Trump isn’t the accuracy of what he’s saying, after all. What’s important is the extent to which his base appreciates it.”

12-22-19 Blue Virginia. Rev. Robert Dilday – Recently Ordained Episcopal Priest in Richmond and Leader in Virginia Environmental, Anti-Pipeline Movements – Dies Suddenly. “Rest in peace, Rev. Robert Dilday, an Episcopal priest at St. Stephen’s in Richmond, who passed away suddenly last night. …. Dilday, who was ordained just a week ago, was also a “faith-based journalist,” “climate justice advocate” and co-director, along with Rev. E. Weston Mathews of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains – of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, whose goal is ‘to be faithful stewards of creation by supporting resistance to its degradation and exploitation.’”

12-21-19 Arkansas Times. Money talks, Republican attorneys general such as Leslie Rutledge listen. “Why in the world does Attorney General Leslie Rutledge get involved in cases such as opposition to a pipeline crossing in Virginia that will defile the Appalachian Trail? Answer: Money. And lots of it from corporate interests. A giant energy company wants to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, including the trail crossing. Giant energy companies pour big sums into the Republican Attorneys General Association (which Rutledge once headed). It is essentially a PAC to elect Republicans. The attorneys general seem to return the favors of contributors by intervening around the country in cases of interest to the benefactors, such as the company with the pipeline project.”

12-20-19 Bloomberg. Going 100% Green Will Pay For Itself in Seven Years, Study Finds. “A Stanford University professor whose research helped underpin the U.S. Democrats’ Green New Deal says phasing out fossil fuels and running the entire world on clean energy would pay for itself in under seven years. It would cost $73 trillion to revamp power grids, transportation, manufacturing and other systems to run on wind, solar and hydro power, including enough storage capacity to keep the lights on overnight, Mark Jacobson said in a study published Friday in the journal One Earth. But that would be offset by annual savings of almost $11 trillion, the report found.”

12-20-19 Bacon’s Rebellion. Dominion Plans Four New Gas Units. “Despite its recent advertising campaign rebranding itself as a ‘green’ utility, Dominion Energy is planning to build four natural gas ‘peaking units’ costing $600 million at its Chesterfield County generating station. The utility filed for a permit for the State Air Pollution Control Board, according to the Chesterfield Observer. The gas plants would generate 1,000 megawatts of power to electrify 250,000 homes. One phase of the project would be completed in 2023 with another going online the following year.”

12-19-19 Electrek. 3 reasons why the US natural gas boom is fizzling out. “Natural gas prices plummeted at the end of November due to a glut of supply. It’s also looking as though a warmer December is going to keep demand down. And finally, the fossil fuel is being increasingly banned in US cities and towns for environmental and safety reasons.”

12-19-19 Blue Virginia. Video: “Virginia Clean Economy Act” Unveiled. Is It Adequate to the Challenges and Opportunities We Face? “See [this link] for video of the unveiling a bit earlier today, by Sen. Jennifer McClellan (patron in the Senate), Del. Rip Sullivan (patron in the House) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (chief co-patron in the House) [UPDATE: Del. Alfonso Lopez (chief co-patron in the House) couldn’t make it this morning, but he played a role in developing this legislation the past few months] and – as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) calls it, ‘a broad and diverse coalition of advocacy groups and business voices to unveil the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a bill that will take historic steps to give Virginia a 100% carbon-free electricity grid and eliminate emissions by Virginia’s utilities by 2050.’ Also, see [this link] for a two-page summary of the Virginia Clean Economy Act”

12-16-19 Reuters. Dominion still sees U.S. Atlantic Coast natgas pipe online in 2022 despite Morgan Stanley’s doubts. “Dominion Energy Inc (D.N) said on Monday it was confident it will complete the proposed $7.3-$7.8 billion Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina by early 2022, in response to a prediction by investment bank Morgan Stanley that a court decision would likely scuttle the project. …. Dominion made its comments after Morgan Stanley said in a report that ‘Atlantic Coast will likely not be completed given the Fourth Circuit’s likely (in the bank’s view) rejection, for the third time, of a newly issued Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement that we expect to come by the first quarter of 2020.’”

12-15-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Virginia needs a more transparent regulatory system for fossil fuel investments. “With Democrats’ sweep of the General Assembly, Virginians might think the state was poised to embrace a clean energy policy — and prioritize public health, and clean air and water — over fossil fuel energy investment. Unfortunately, Virginia seems hell-bent on fast-tracking a massive expansion of fossil gas infrastructure. It’s been widely reported that Democratic governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam have supported two controversial pipeline projects — the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — despite a growing outcry from residents about their staggering environmental impact. Less well known are two more massive gas projects quietly being shepherded through Virginia’s regulatory system.”

12-15-19 Times West Virginian. State leaders continue to betray future generations. “West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey is leading an effort with 17 other state attornies general to push the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline forward, despite legal rulings that have held construction up for about a year now. The 18-state alliance filing a ‘friend of the court’ brief to argue that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was inaccurate in ruling that the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline rights-of-way through forestland beneath federal trails. Morrissey said in a press release the state has lost revenue and economic growth due to the development of the ACP being stalled out. …. With all due respect to Mr. Morrissey, we think his efforts are misplaced. …. Instead of putting all this effort into industries that ultimately harm the citizens of West Virginia, we should be focusing on education, economic diversity and programs to help and retrain the workers whose livelihoods were destroyed when the coal industry went through massive layoffs.”

12-12-19 WOSU. Study: Natural Gas Led To Economic Benefits And Premature Deaths In Region. “A new study by Carnegie Mellon University finds that in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-West Virginia region, the economic boost from shale gas drilling has been less than the cost of premature deaths caused by pollution from the industry. The study, published last month in the journal Nature Sustainability, found that between 2004-2016, shale development created a regional economic boost of $21 billion. That’s compared with $23 billion in the costs related to the 1,200-4,600 premature deaths linked to air pollution from the industry.”

12-12-19 Natural Gas Intel. Feds Extend MVP’s Reopened Endangered Species Review by 60 Days. “FERC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have extended an ongoing Endangered Species Act review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) by 60 days due to missing information, a regulatory filing this week shows. Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked the USFWS to reopen its review of the 2 Bcf/d, 300-mile Appalachia-to-Southeast pipeline due to new concerns over the project’s potential impacts to several protected species. That request triggered a 90-day consultation period that was set to expire this week, but the agencies opted to extend the consultation period to Feb. 10 as USFWS looks to address ‘identified data gaps’ and complete its review.”

12-12-19 Washington Post. Bipartisan bill in Va. chips away at Dominion’s excess profits. “Two state lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan effort on Thursday to reclaim the state’s authority to set electric rates, a sign that the incoming Democratic-controlled legislature may take on Virginia’s biggest utility, Dominion Energy. Dels. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) and Jerrauld C. ‘Jay’ Jones (D-Norfolk) said their proposal is a ‘common sense’ effort to restore protections for consumers. Called the Fair Energy Bills Act, the measure would reinstate the authority of the State Corporation Commission to review electricity base rates and set profit levels for Dominion. Much of that authority was stripped away in 2015 when the General Assembly agreed to freeze base rates and prevent the commission from ordering the utilities to return excess profits to ratepayers.”

12-12-19 Roanoke Times. Judge approves $2.15 million settlement of lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Mountain Valley Pipeline will pay $2.15 million for the environmental damage it has caused so far in building a natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia, while facing additional penalties for any new violations that may occur. Those were the conditions of a settlement, approved this week, of a lawsuit brought against the company by state regulators. …. The consent decree signed by Henrico County Circuit Judge Richard Wallerstein on Wednesday calls for court-ordered compliance and supervision of future construction, providing more stringent oversight of Mountain Valley than what would be provided under normal DEQ enforcement.”

12-11-19 New York Times. Natural Gas Boom Fizzles as a U.S. Glut Sinks Profits. “A decade ago, natural gas was heralded as the fuel of the future. …. The boom has given way to a bust. A glut of cheap natural gas is wreaking havoc on the energy industry, and companies are shutting down drilling rigs, filing for bankruptcy protection and slashing the value of shale fields they had acquired in recent years. …. Nowhere are the declining fortunes of natural gas more in evidence than in Appalachia, where the Marcellus field centered in central and western Pennsylvania was once viewed as the most promising in North America. With gas prices slashed nearly in half from a year ago, the number of drilling rigs operating in Pennsylvania has dropped to 24, from 47, over the last 12 months. EQT, one of the premier producers in the Marcellus, recently cut nearly a quarter of its work force, eliminating 196 positions.”

12-11-19 Virginian-Pilot. Virginia Natural Gas received draft agenda item on Atlantic Coast Pipeline before it was public, emails show. “Before an influential planning commission was set to publicly debate throwing its support behind the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the group’s executive director went back and forth with an employee of one of the pipeline’s chief proponents, according to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Robert Crum, the director, eventually provided Virginia Natural Gas a draft agenda item that requested the commission endorse the project. Upon learning of the emails, opponents of the contentious infrastructure project that would bring natural gas from West Virginia to Chesapeake were critical of the ‘best friend’ access proponents of the pipeline seemed to be getting. They argued that it has happened all along the pipeline’s path.”

12-9-19 Augusta Free Press. Rasoul’s Green New Deal Act addresses climate emergency. “Roanoke Democrat Sam Rasoul announced Monday that he is introducing legislation to address the climate change emergency. Del. Rasoul’s bill, the Green New Deal Act, HB 77, is part of a suite of bills developed by Green New Deal Virginia, a broad coalition of more than 60 grassroots organizations co-founded in 2018 by Rasoul and Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William County.”

12-9-19 Energy and Policy Institute. Report details utilities’ use of charitable giving to influence politics. “In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the Energy and Policy Institute has examined the charitable contributions of 10 leading investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S. We found that all of these major utilities use their charitable giving to manipulate politics, policies and regulation in ways designed to increase shareholder profits, often at the expense of low-income communities whose communities are more likely to bear the brunt of climate impacts and suffer higher levels of air pollution.”

12-9-19 WVNews. WV AG Morrisey-led coalition files brief urging U.S. Supreme Court to reverse pipeline shutdown. “A group of U.S. attorneys general, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that shut down construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The 18-member coalition filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the high court. In the brief, the coalition argues that an appellate court ruling shutting down the pipeline was inaccurate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline rights of way through forestland beneath federal trails, specifically the Appalachian Trail.”  NB:  16 of the 18 states who filed neither touch the Appalachian Trail nor do they have the ACP going through them. THREE out of FOUR states who do decline to support the brief, VA, PA and NC.

12-6-19 Facing South. Big Energy front group launches push for troubled Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “A lobbying group formed by oil and gas industry insiders to push for increased fossil fuel production has turned its focus from promoting offshore drilling in the Atlantic to championing Dominion Energy’s and Duke Energy’s controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). It’s doing so under the guise of being a pro-consumer group concerned about energy justice, even while its members include major gas production companies as well as Dominion Energy. Last week, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) had a letter to the editor published in The News & Observer of Raleigh making the case for the proposed pipeline…. The letter comes on the heels of two reports the CEA recently released in North Carolina — one purporting to show that burning more natural gas saves consumers money and another claiming that it’s good for the environment. The former was based on calculations developed by Orion Strategies, a West Virginia-based public relations firm that serves the energy industry. A version of the CEA’s environmental report that was released in Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s top gas-producing states, has come under fire from public health advocates as misleading.”

12-6-19 SELC. Proposed federal energy rollbacks threaten renewable energy growth. “This week, SELC filed comments on behalf of eighteen organizations across the Southeast opposing proposed rollbacks to clean energy policies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. One of FERC’s duties is to implement the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. Enacted in 1978 to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and encourage renewable energy generation, the law enables competition by requiring monopoly utilities to purchase power from certain independent power producers. In many states, PURPA is the only legal tool available to support the development of independent power producers that promote energy independence, reduce reliance on fossil fuel generation, and provide low-cost renewable energy to ratepayers. ‘The agency’s latest proposals will make it easier for utilities to avoid their federal obligations by increasing uncertainty and impairing financing for renewable energy projects, and by reducing the requirement to purchase clean renewable energy,’ says Senior Attorney Lauren Bowen, leader of SELC’s Solar Power Initiative.”

12-5-19 Bloomberg. D.C. Circuit to Review FERC Practice Called ‘Kafkaesque’ “The D.C. Circuit will take a closer look at a federal energy agency’s review practice that has long frustrated natural gas pipeline challengers and was recently derided by one judge as a ‘Kafkaesque regime.’ The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Dec. 5 agreed to rehear a case involving the Transcontinental Pipeline’s Atlantic Sunrise project, which cuts through Pennsylvania and connects to a broader East Coast network of natural gas infrastructure. …. At issue in the rehearing is FERC’s use of “tolling orders” to respond to administrative challenges to pipeline approvals. Under the Natural Gas Act, FERC has 30 days to respond to challenges. It uses tolling orders to extend that deadline. Challengers generally can’t go to court to oppose a pipeline until FERC issues a final decision on an administrative challenge. Tolling orders can drag out the timeline so long that construction on a project is complete before a landowner, environmental group, or other challenger has had an opportunity to go to court.

12-5-19 Virginia Mercury. In Virginia, Union Hill and racial tensions have put environmental justice back on the map. “For many activists and policymakers, no single event has done more to put environmental justice on the Virginia map than the state’s approval of a plan by Dominion Energy to site a natural gas compressor station for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the historic freedmen’s community of Union Hill. The decision, which made national headlines and is still being litigated in the courts, was described as ‘almost a symbol of racism’ by Robinson [Dawone Robinson, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic director of energy affordability at the Natural Resources Defense Council], ‘a very in-your-face specific issue on environmental justice.’”

12-5-19 Utility Dive. Dominion suspends plan to add 1.5 GW of peaking capacity as Virginia faces gas glut. “Dominion Energy on Wednesday announced it suspended a request for proposals (RFP) that targeted up to 1,500 MW of dispatchable peak capacity in its Virginia territory, which observers said would have likely resulted in natural gas additions. Announced in November, the utility said the RFP aimed to replace retiring generation and provide system balancing needs as more renewables are added onto the grid. Dominion said it may reissue the RFP in the future, if it determines the capacity is needed. The utility’s announcement follows reporting from S&P Global that the company has been over-forecasting its demand for years in order to justify spending on new natural gas facilities.”

12-4-19 S&P Global. Overpowered: In Virginia, Dominion faces challenges to its reign. “‘Now, the times they are a-changing,’ said former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who served several years in the General Assembly and who is now the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Donald Trump. ‘There’s a political price now to be paid on both sides of the aisle for just doing what Dominion wants. They don’t get to just say what they want and go get it. It’s a fight now. And it’s a fight with political costs.’”

12-4-19 Rewables Now. OVERVIEW – US wind capacity exceeds hydro, while solar tops oil. “According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data just released – quietly – by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the first three-quarters of 2019, solar and wind provided nearly six times as much new generating capacity as natural gas in September. …. [T]he gap between gas and renewables for calendar year 2019 appears to be closing with additions by the latter outpacing gas during each of the last three months reported (i.e., July, August, September). Moreover, compared to its prior monthly report, FERC’s three-year forecast has reduced its projection of net new natural gas additions (i.e., “proposed additions under construction” minus “proposed retirements”) by 99 MW while increasing those from renewable sources by 1,040 MW.”

12-3-19 Grist.  A pipeline runs through it. “The pink ribbons start in northern West Virginia. Tied to flimsy wooden posts stuck a few inches into the earth, they’re easy to miss as they whip in the crisp, fall wind. Heading south, they dot landscapes for 600 miles, marking the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. …. Over the past year, I’ve followed the path of the ribbons from West Virginia to North Carolina. I hiked along steep ridges where they were tied to trees; trudged through muddy cattle farms where they were stuck on fence posts. I drove past them as the route curved around churches and homes. Along the way, I spoke to more than 20 people who lived on or near the proposed route, in addition to scientists, activists, lawyers, and government officials. In some places, I learned that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has pitted neighbor against neighbor and sibling against sibling, that it has split church communities and broken friendships. In others, I found that it inspired folks to speak out at county meetings, to read every line in an environmental assessment, and to organize protests with strangers who became close friends. Here are a few stories about some of the humans, wildlife, and places in the pipeline’s path.”

12-3-19 Register-Herald [WV] Texas construction company no longer working on Mountain Valley Pipeline. “A Texas corporation that has put down roots in Raleigh County is no longer working on a controversial natural gas pipeline in West Virginia, after the pipeline’s major stakeholder unexpectedly cancelled the Texas company’s contract last month. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint project of EQM Midstream Partners LP, Con Edison Transmissions Inc., NextEra US Gas Assets LLC, WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October halted construction of the 303-mile, interstate pipeline in October, pending the outcome of a series of court challenges launched by environmental groups. In the last week of November, EQM Midstream Partners LP cancelled a work contract for Trinity Energy Services of Argyle, Texas, Trinity spokesman Bob McKibbon verified Monday.”

12-2-19 Bloomberg Environment. Trump Lawyers Defend Pipeline’s Route Across Appalachian Trail. “The U.S. Forest Service has full authority to allow natural gas pipelines to cross the Appalachian Trail, industry lawyers and the Trump administration told the Supreme Court in a pair of Dec. 2 legal filings. Government and industry lawyers say a lower court got it wrong when it ruled that only the National Park Service can oversee development across the trail. …. Environmental groups opposed to the pipeline have until Jan. 15 [2020] to respond to the briefs. Oral argument is set for Feb. 24 [2020]. The case is U.S. Forest Serv. v. Cowpasture River Pres. Ass’n, U.S., No. 18-1584, briefs filed 12/2/19.

12-2-19 Seeking Alpha. Duke Energy: More Dividends In The Pipeline. “One major area of focus for management has been the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the Carolinas, which is an ongoing project to be completed over the next couple of years and should help with the firm’s natural gas revenue. To cover the cost of the pipeline, management recently held an equity offering of 25 million shares, priced at $86.45 per share, the proceeds of which (over $2 billion) were used to help pay for the roughly $7.5 billion cost of the joint venture (along with Dominion Energy (D) and Southern Company (SO)). The aforementioned investment costs and increasing regulatory hurdles will undoubtedly constrain profitability, and will, in all likelihood leave forward earnings growth below the industry average for the immediate future. If anything, the dividend has become more important than ever to existing shareholders, and as such, should be monitored very closely for any surprises, as any disappointments could lead to a dive in share price.”

12-2-19 Blue Virginia. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy: Effects of Climate Change Are Here in Virginia Today; Now Is the Time for Bold Leadership. “Climate change is not some distant threat — we’re witnessing many of its effects today right here in Virginia. More notably, we are seeing that the immediate burden of our changing climate is disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of color. Union Hill, a predominantly African American community in Buckingham County, is being threatened by Dominion Energy’s effort to build a compressor station for a fracked-methane pipeline. Compressor stations enable gas to flow through the pipelines at high speeds. This pollutes the air and water with toxic chemicals like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. These chemicals pose significant health risks, and are linked to heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, impaired lung function, and premature death. Thankfully, we can do something about it. On Nov. 5, Democrats in Virginia won big — giving us a once-in-a-generation chance to implement real change. We need to lead with bold change in mind, and we can do this by fighting against the influence of big corporations like Dominion Energy who have controlled Richmond for far too long.”

12-2-19 Appalachian Voices. Fossil Fuels in Virginia. “Rural landowners and environmental justice advocates have united in opposition to Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. And the fact that sinking billions of captive customer dollars into that fossil fuel project flies in the face of Governor Northam’s well-received call for 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2050 has not gone unnoticed. The next General Assembly, and the governor, have a clear mandate to put an end to the special favors that enrich monopoly utilities at great cost to Virginians.”

12-2-19 WDBJ7. Pipeline opponents ask court to reject agreement between Virginia and MVP. “A coalition of groups that oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline are asking a court to reject an agreement between the pipeline company and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. …. Members of the POWHR coalition said the agreement ignores almost a year of violations, lacks adequate safeguards and fails to mitigate the damage effectively.”