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Briefs -- California Energy Grants | House EV Bill | Honduran Reverse LNG Trade Mission | MVP Reviewing Court Decision | Southcross Terminals American Midstream Merger | Avista-Hydro One Merger | MVP Water Quality Certification

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is targeting the natural gas-consuming food processing industry with $57 million in grants provided by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Fund. The grants are aimed at adopting advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. CEC is offering grants to two tiers of potential projects. Individual grants of $100,000 to $3 million are available for commercial equipment upgrades, while $2-8 million in grants would be available for emerging technologies to reduce GHG emissions. More information is available at the Food Production Investment Program.

Seeking an “all-of-the-above approach to federal policies on energy production and consumption, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) on July 25 introduced a bill that would give the same regulatory treatment to natural gas vehicles that is given to electric vehicles (EV). The bill, HR 6476 the Light-Duty Natural Gas Vehicle Parity Act of 2018, is the third natural gas transportation legislation in 90 days and is a companion to a bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has awarded a reverse trade mission (RTM) contract to Skipping Stone LLC and Meridian International Center. The two firms are scheduled to manage an RTM on liquefied natural gas (LNG) solutions with a delegation of 10 senior executives from the public and private sectors of Honduras, Aug. 13-17. The RTM will focus on planning and infrastructure for medium- to large-scale gas terminals and power generation facilities. Included in the itinerary is a business briefing by the Honduran RTM delegation in Houston, Aug. 14; attendance is free but RSVP is required.

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP) is reviewing a federal court’s decision to rescind permission for all construction activities in the Jefferson National Forest (JNF). Responding to cases brought by three environmental organizations, the court vacated the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) decision to allow MVP to cross a 3.5 mile segment of the forest. An MVP spokesperson said the project is “working with the agencies to evaluate the effect of the order on construction activities in the national forest, which amounts to about 1% of the overall project route.” The court found that the USFS did not fully explain its rationale on sedimentation impacts and that the BLM violated the Mineral Leasing Act by approving a new right-of-way across the JNF. The matter has been remanded to the agencies for further proceedings. The project has already been delayed by three months over another legal challenge related to its Nationwide Permit 12.

Southcross Energy Partners LP has terminated a merger plan and agreement to become a subsidiary of American Midstream Partners LP (AMID). AMID launched the tie-up last fall and it was to have been completed by the end of 2Q2018. Southcross said it provided written notice terminating the merger because of “AMID’s failure to achieve conditions required under the merger agreement.” In addition, effective July 29, Southcross Energy’s parent, Southcross Holdings LP, terminated its contribution agreement with AMID “as a result of a funding failure by AMID.”  Under the terms of the contribution agreement, Southcross Holdings is entitled to receive a $17 million termination fee, a portion of which would be used to reimburse some of its transaction costs.

The $5.3 billion merger of Avista Corp. and Hydro One Ltd. will be completed by the end of the year, although state approvals from Washington and Oregon must still be obtained, according to Avista CEO Scott Morris. The regulatory review process for the merger was upended last month when the provincial government of Ontario forced the retirement of Hydro One's CEO and the resignation of the utility's entire board of directors. The change in board is expected to be completed by Aug. 15, according to Morris. Avista reported 2Q2018 net income of $25.6 million (39 cents/share), compared to $21.7 million (34 cents) in 2Q2017.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has denied a petition for review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Section 401 water quality certification (WQC). Environmental groups had challenged the WQC that was issued by Virginia regulators. The court found that the certification was not “arbitrary and capricious.” MVP would move 2 Bcf/d of natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia and connect with the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line to move more Appalachian natural gas to Southeast markets. The project’s in-service has already been delayed by three months to 1Q2019, as some construction has been stopped along the 300-mile route pending other legal challenges.

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