Regulation & Policy

The New Northern Policy, launched by the South Korean president Moon Jae-in, is seeking new growth drivers in Russia and Northeast Asia. The Korean energy ministry announced Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) will sign a memorandum of understanding with Russia's energy firm Rosseti later this year. The aim is to create a multinational power grid interconnection in the Northeast Asia region that also includes China and Japan.

West-to-east power flows on the ERCOT transmission system are bound to rise substantially, following a surge in wind capacity addition in the Panhandle northwestern Texas, and new solar PV resources in far southwest Texas. Rising supply of inherently intermittent renewable energy is proving difficult to integrate; hence transmission line upgrades need to be fast-tracked to allow the grid operator ERCOT balance wind energy in the Northwest with flexible gas-fired generation in the eastern part of the state.

Aspirations to build and extend heat networks across the UK have been rekindled by Whitehall’s recently published Clean Growth Strategy. If all implemented, the recommended measures could deliver capital cost reductions of 30 to 40% and save the UK grid operator up to £30 billion.

US President Donald Trump has made reforms of the environmental permitting process for pipelines a key part of his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. Speeding up regulatory approvals will help fast-track both gas export pipelines to Mexico and interstate pipelines to transport cheap, domestic shale gas to the second wave of US LNG export projects.

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) imposed a cap on thermal coal prices imports through Qinhuangdao port at RMB750/t from 5 February. Strong demand due to colder-than-normal weather in January had propelled up prices to a record RMB780/t for FOB Qinhuangdao 5500 kcal/kg coal. According to WoodMackenzie estimates, the new price cap will have an impact from now until mid-March.

Passing the final verdict after an eight-year quarrel over the failed Kemper “clean coal” power plant, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) ordered to keep the plant running solely on natural gas and not pass any losses on to ratepayers. Commissioners voted unanimously that all risk needs to be removed from ratepayers for the lignite coal related assets at the facility. More so, a forthcoming compliance filing will decrease the bill of an average residential customer by 2.4%, or over $3.00 per month.

CNMC, the Spanish energy regulator has rejected a government proposal to prop up the nation’s oldest and most polluting coal power plants. Dealing a blow to subsidies for coal-fired generating capacity, the regulator suggested a “significant part” of the Spain’s coal fleet could be closed without putting national energy security at risk.

Divestment of the 650-MW Malaya coal power plant and its subsequent conversion to run on natural gas can only proceed if the current operator is able to prove the plant’s status as a “must-run-unit,” the Department of Energy (DOE) of the Philippines ruled. This new requirement risks to likely delay, if not derail, the coal-to-gas conversion.

One of the UK’s major remaining coal generators, the 1,960-MW Eggborough Power Station in North Yorkshire, is set to fizzle out in September 2018 after it failed to win a 2018-19 capacity contract. As a consequence, the operator has just updated its planning application to convert the 51-year-old Eggborough facility into a new 2-Gigawatt (GW) combined-cycle gas power plant.

Eco-friendly combined cycle power plants are serving as a “bridge” for South Korea along the road of an energy paradigm shift from nuclear power and coal-fired plants towards new and renewable energies, according to Kim Kyung-won, president of Korea District Heating Corp. (KDHC). Kim pointed out the strengths of the recently commissioned 800-MW Dongtan CCGT which powers Dongtan, a new town under development near Hwaseong City.

Tightening supply of thermal coal ahead of the Lunar New Year risks to cause power shortages in some of China’s northern metropolis, regional utilities warned. In a letter to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), four electric utilities pleaded the government to ease regulations that incentives a switch from coal to gas and increase coal supplies temporarily in order to put a lid on spiraling prices.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the PennEast pipeline in a 4-1 vote, acknowledging the clear need for more gas transport infrastructure along the East Coast. The $1 billion PennEast interstate pipeline will bring up to 1 billion cubic feet of daily low-cost Marcellus gas to customers in southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) has filed to the state’s public utilities commission for permission to increase rates, seeking to recover its $390 million investment in the Mustang Energy Center. The 462-MW peaking power plant is the first gas-fired generator that OG&E has built in more than 30 years.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio on January 10, 2018, announced a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and ConocoPhillips, claiming the companies intentionally misled the public about the effects of climate change in order to protect their profits.  Together with comptroller Scott Stringer, de Blasio submitted a resolution instructing the city's five pension funds to explore ways to divest their fossil fuel holdings.  Between them, the funds hold $5 billion worth of securities in over 190 fossil fuel-related companies. 

Aspirations of the Trump administration to prop up America’s coal industry have been dealt a blow by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which rejected U.S. Energy Rick Perry’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power stations if they stockpiled 90-days worth of fuel. Republican and Democrat members of FERC earlier this week unanimously voted against the Department of Energy’s (DoE) proposed “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule.”

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