The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said it will postpone a decision on the pending $5.3 billion merger of Avista Corp. and Hydro One Ltd. by four months, until Dec. 14. The state regulatory agency said it took the delay after the provincial government of Ontario forced the retirement of Hydro One's CEO and the resignation of the utility's entire board of directors.

Cascade Natural Gas Corp. will lower its annual utility rates by $5.4 million, or 2.6%, following UTC's approval of a rate settlement case. The rate changes will take effect on Aug. 1. Cascade originally filed for a $5.9 million (2.7%) rate increase, but reached an all-party settlement in May for a $5.2 million decrease in rates. The decrease was mostly driven by the impact of last year's federal tax reform.

The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General (IG) has opened an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The IG informed Democratic Reps. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Jared Huffman of California that it launched a probe on July 16 into allegations that Zinke violated conflict of interest laws by cooperating with a Halliburton Co. executive to advance land developments in Zinke's hometown, Whitefish, MT.

Technology developer Petroteq Energy Inc. has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Mareton Alliance LP to buy acreage and resources in the Utah oilsands. The pricing and structure of the transaction, which is subject to board approval, have yet to be finalized. The company is in the process of bringing its Uinta Basin facility in Asphalt Ridge up to its nameplate production capacity of 1,000 b/d.

CSX Corp. has reached a settlement with the federal government and West Virginia, agreeing to pay a $1.2 million civil penalty for a 2015 incident in which a 109-car train it operated that was carrying Bakken Shale crude oil derailed. Twenty-seven of the tank cars, carrying 29,000 gallons of oil each, derailed, caught fire and exploded. West Virginia is to receive $1 million of the civil penalty. The Department of JusticeEnvironmental Protection Agency and West Virginia announced the consent decree, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. CSX also agreed to pay $500,000 into a state-administered fund to upgrade a water treatment facility.