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Briefs -- PG&E Fine, Trinity Power Well Site, Excelerate Lavaca Bay, California Pension Funds, Texas Eastern Transmission, Railroad Commission, Avista Utilities/Intermountain Gas

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has been fined $50,000 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for lax security at one of its major electrical transmission substations in San Jose, CA, where the facility security was breached, resulting in $40,000 of equipment being stolen in late August. Regulators fined PG&E for failing to maintain its Metcalf Substation, alleging that burglars reached the facility's fence in multiple places to steal construction equipment. According to the CPUC safety/enforcement division, multiple alarms sounded but the combination utility's contract security personnel were unaware of the break-in. A utility spokesperson told NGI that PG&E took "immediate action to get to the bottom of what happened," initiating various actions to address "security gaps," such as more security personnel on the scene, enhanced lighting at the site, enhanced camera surveillance systems, and firing the third-party security contractor.

Alberta-based Trinity Power Rentals, a temporary power generation firm, has installed four natural gas-fired reciprocating units at a remote well site in the northern part of the province to harness flared sweet gas for producing electricity. The units collectively are capable of providing 5 MW to the Alberta grid for ATCO Power, an independent generation provider. Trinity provided design, engineering, equipment and delivery logistics, fashioning the mobile unit power plant at an Apache Corp. well site.

Affiliates of Excelerate Energy LP have withdrawn their FERC applications for their proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, the Lavaca Bay LNG Project off the Texas coast. "Following an internal evaluation of the economic value of the project, Excelerate has determined that it will no longer pursue the project proceedings in the captioned dockets," they told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a filing [CP14-71, 72, 73]. In December and in April the companies asked the Commission to set aside consideration of the applications for the LNG export terminal while they reconsidered the economic merits of the project in light of collapsed global oil prices (see Daily GPIApril 1Dec. 30, 2014).

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), the state's largest pension funds, would be required to divest nearly $300 million of investments in the coal industry, if Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB 185 into law. It was passed by the state legislature Wednesday. CalPERS indicated its portfolios currently contain about 30 coal mining/producing companies valued at $167 million, and based on similar metrics, CalSTRS said it has $132 million in coal assets.

On Tuesday, Texas Eastern Transmission's Uniontown-to-Gas City project entered full service two months ahead of schedule (see Daily GPIJuly 29). In the week prior to the full in-service, about 5.5 MMcf/d had been flowing from Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line to Texas Eastern, a spokesman for pipeline parent Spectra Energy said. For the first two days the facilities were in service, deliveries to Panhandle Eastern in Gas City, IN have increased to about 282 MMcf/d, the spokesman said.

The Railroad Commission of Texas has updated its website domain to www.rrc.texas.gov, effective Sept. 1. All agency email addresses have been updated to the format of "firstname.lastname@rrc.texas.gov." The new domain is consistent with the state of Texas government domain standard for state agencies. The previous website domain and email addresses will remain operational for a year-long transition period.

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) launched several social media accounts -- on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. "Social media will give the RRC far more capability than it's ever had to communicate directly with Texans about all of the agency's actions taken on their behalf. The more Texans know about what we're doing at the RRC, the more confidence they'll have in us," said Commissioner Ryan Sitton. The accounts are: www.twitter.com/txrrcwww.facebook.com/railroadcommissionoftexaswww.instagram.com/railroadcommissionoftexas; and www.linkedin.com/company/railroad-commission-of-texas.

Two major natural gas utility providers have asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to decrease retail rates substantially on Nov. 1. Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities is looking at a 14.5% drop, while Intermountain Gas Co. has proposed a 5.7% annual decrease. Both utilities have made filings to the PUC under their annual purchased gas adjustment rate procedure that annually attempts to square up the utilities' rates with the latest cost of gas. In the case of combination utility Avista, there were separate fuel adjustment filings for both power and gas pointing toward rate decreases, largely tied to low wholesale natural gas costs nationally. For MDU Resources Group's Intermountain Gas utility, the PGA called for a 5.7% drop in charges, or $15.3 million. 

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