Wyoming is preparing a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a hearing of the state’s challenge to the federal “roadless rule,” which potentially has an impact on oil, gas and future mineral development on federal lands (see Daily GPI, Dec. 7, 2011). Gov. Matt Mead said he decided to seek high court review following the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denial of Wyoming’s petition for an en banc court rehearing in the case, which Mead has maintained “raises legal questions of exceptional importance.” The Tenth Circuit reversed of an earlier Wyoming federal district court injunction against the U.S. Forestry Service‘s designation of additional wilderness areas through the roadless rule, and the state continues to argue that the federal forestry agency’s actions circumvented Congress, which is the only legitimate source of wilderness designations. “The roadless rule has seriously impacted Wyoming, our people, our industries and the health of our forests,” Mead said. “Given the consequences, it is important to ask the Supreme Court to hear this case.”

Avista Utilities was granted a 6% retail natural gas price decrease in Washington state, and it has pending a proposed 5.7% retail gas rate decrease in neighboring Idaho. The Washington decline — about $3.90/month for the typical residential customer — is effective March 1. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the rate drop, noting it was caused by a combination of abundant supplies in a time of falling demand. In both states the decreases being sought were larger for the commercial and industrial sector. In Washington, for example, Avista estimated the decrease for commercial customers to average about 7.6%; 8.2% for extra large general service customers; and 9.5% for interruptible customers. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is reviewing Avista’s filing.

In a preliminary assessment the California Energy Commission (CEC) staff concluded that with the right mitigation measures a proposed natural gas-fired $300 million, 300 MW peaking power facility, Pio Pico Energy Center LLC, adjacent to an existing baseload gas-fired generation facility at Otay Mesa, south of San Diego near the U.S.-Mexico border, would comply with all applicable standards except in the area of biological resources. A privately held firm, Apex Power LLC, has proposed to build three 100 MW gas-fired simple-cycle units on a 10-acre site in San Diego County. The developer hopes to start work on the plant a year from now and finish it by May 2014. The CEC staff’s preliminary assessment is undergoing a public comment period prior to staff issuing a final assessment.

Because many energy companies still haven’t solved the “talent gap” issues caused by industry downturn in the 1980s, and because many of their non-executive employees have a significant impact on results, succession planning can provide long-term competitive advantage to companies in the energy industry, according to a report from PwC US. Companies should invest in resources necessary to maintain an ongoing succession planning effort, rather than a one-time effort, PwC said. According to the report, successful succession planning efforts are integrated into an organization’s long-term business strategy, are owned by senior management and must be linked to other talent management processes and practices

©Copyright 2012Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.