NGI The Weekly Gas Market Report

Briefs -- FERC Quorum | Avista Utilities | California Renewables | Tellurian Inc. | Alaska Electric Light & Power

Ninety-two members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle recently signed aletter asking President Trump to prioritize the nomination and confirmation of commissioners to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "so that the current standstill at the agency can quickly be resolved." Included in the list of signatures were 34 members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, including Joe Barton (R-TX), the committee's vice chairman. The letter was dated Feb. 22, as was a second letter sent to by more 14 Democratic members calling on Trump tobegin the process of filling vacancies at FERC. The logjam at FERC began days after Trump's inauguration, when he named Cheryl LaFleur acting chairman and Norman Bay submitted his resignation effective Feb. 3. Without a quorum, FERC can conduct routine business, but commissioners cannot vote on important projects or rules.

On a 2-1 vote, the state of Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on Monday rejected a request by Spokane-based Avista Utilities to have its natural gas and electric rate case decisions from December reconsidered. UTC Chairman David Danner and Commissioner Ann Rendahl voted not to reconsider or rehear the 2016 rate case decision, while Commissioner Phil Jones, who filed a dissent in the original 2-1 decision, did so again on Monday. Avista's petition for a rehearing was opposed by UTC staff, the public counsel unit of the state Attorney General's Office, the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities, and the Northwest Industrial Gas Users. The combination utility had requested a two-phase increase of $4.4 million (5%) for natural gas rates the first 12 months and an additional $900,000 annual increase (1.8%) after 18 months; electric rates were pegged for a $38.6 million (7.8%) increase at first with an added $10.3 million (3.9%) after 18 months. The two commissioners in the majority decided that Avista failed to show that its current rates are not sufficient to meet its operating needs. Avista has 30 days to petition for judicial review in a state Superior Court.

California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon has submitted a bill (SB 584) calling for mandating that 100% of the state's power come from renewable resources by 2045. Current California renewable standards call for 33% of the power from renewables by 2020 and 50% by 2030. De Leon's bill would move up the 50% requirement to 2025 and phase in goals over the subsequent 20 years. At the end of 2015, California's three major utilities were at 27.6% renewables. Peter Miller, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the SB 584 goal is realistic as the utilities are racing ahead of existing renewable milestones. He claims wind and solar power are now the lowest-cost options for new generation when their emissions benefits are factored in.

Houston-based Tellurian Inc.’s Driftwood LNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal proposed for Louisiana has received authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG) to free trade agreement (FTA) nations. Tellurian has also submitted an application to export LNG to non-FTA nations and expects to file its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission application for the project later this quarter. Driftwood LNG is a proposed 26 million tonne per annum LNG export facility near Lake Charles, LA. Tellurian expects to begin construction in 2018 and deliver first LNG in 2022, with full operations in 2025.

Alaska Electric Light & Power, a unit of Avista, has abandoned plans to ship liquefied natural gas from British Columbia to Juneau, according to a report by Alaska’s Energy Desk, an initiative of Alaska public media stations. The original plan dates back to a few years ago when natural gas prices were more competitive with those for oil. The $170 million project was too costly to pursue when the Alaska economy is in decline, the utility said.

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