Boulder County, CO, officials may need to keep in place longer than expected a moratorium on the processing of development plans for oil and gas permits. County Planning Commission members said Wednesday they need more time to complete new regulations meant to address potential public health and environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration in unincorporated areas of the county, according to news reports. In February Boulder County commissioners passed a resolution that placed a moratorium on accepting applications until Feb. 4, 2013. The Planning Commission asked the Board of County Commissioners to extend the moratorium by three to six months. Government officials from around Colorado have challenged the state’s authority to regulate energy operations (see Shale Daily, Sept. 24; Aug. 17). The state maintains exclusive jurisdiction in this area under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Articles from Maintains
Two companies in southwest Mississippi are proceeding with plans to produce and strengthen sand for hydraulic fracturing. The Blaine Cos., which maintains quarry operations in Natchez, MS, is launching Magnolia Frac Sand LLC, a business division that will produce frack sand for Fores Frac Sand LLC, a new division of Fores Canada Inc., and Fores Resin Coat LLC will strengthen some of the frack sand by coating it with resin. Fores is also installing a handling facility and a loading and storage facility in Natchez. Blain is investing $7 million in Magnolia and Fores is investing $27 million in its Mississippi entry. The project is expected to create about 60 jobs in the Natchez area.
Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities has asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to lower the efficiency rider it maintains on retail customer electric and natural gas utility bills in the northern part of the state. Avista is seeking a reduction in the gas efficiency rider that will reduce overall bills an average of 4.2%. This latest action is separate from two pending applications at the Idaho PUC to raise Avista gas and electric retail rates. The rider charges are used to fund about 30 different gas and electric efficiency programs. The utility estimates that last year the efficiency programs saved about 1.9 million therms of natural gas (85% of the utility’s goal) and 68,911 MWh of electricity (105% of its goal). Revenue collected from the riders can be used only for efficiency programs, Avista said.
A House appropriations subcommittee Thursday voted out a $25.9 billion spending bill for fiscal 2007 that maintains the 25-year-old congressional ban on oil and natural gas drilling on much of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The possibility of blackouts Friday in New England because of lost gas-fired power generation and record demand prompted calls for legislative action by some Congressmen and Senators. But New England’s grid operator managed to keep the lights on, and the gas industry maintained firm deliveries during the bone-chilling cold that led to gas demand and spot price records.
The New England gas industry Thursday had its fingers crossed that its apparent success maintaining deliveries during the sub-zero temperatures so far this week would last through the bitter cold on Friday morning.
Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday said it was maintaining a “developing” outlook on Dynegy Inc. and its subsidiaries following the company’s pricing for $1.45 billion of new second priority senior secured notes and $175 million of convertible subordinated debentures (see Daily GPI, Aug. 4).
Duke Energy’s credit rating last week was downgraded by both Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service (S&P) and Moody’s Investor Services, but managed to maintain its investment rating. As part of its attempts to boost its bottom line, the company on Wednesday completed the sale of its exploration and production subsidiary, Duke Energy Hydrocarbons LLC (DEH), to a private company for $83 million.
TXU Europe Ltd. and its European subsidiaries was downgraded to one level above “junk” status Thursday by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P), which may drop the TXU Corp. subsidiary below investment grade “in the very near future.” S&P’s action followed that by Moody’s Ratings Service on Wednesday and Fitch Ratings last Friday. S&P did not drop the corporation’s credit rating, however.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Wednesday kept Aquila Inc.’s credit rating at investment grade, albeit one notch above “junk” status. Analyst Todd Shipman said Aquila’s credit profile had been “stressed,” but found that “management has taken and is expected to continue to take steps that will preserve credit quality in the triple ‘B’ area.”