Solar tariff decision a political blow to South Carolina governor

SOLAR: President Trump follows through on his threat to impose steep tariffs on imported solar panels, a move that puts thousands of installer jobs at risk and could increase the cost of projects for homeowners and utilities. (Reuters, Vox)

ALSO: The decision is a political blow to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who had lobbied the Trump administration against the tariff. (Post and Courier)

RENEWABLE ENERGY: South Miami’s mayor is one of the country’s greenest, fighting off attempts by Florida Power & Light to install high-power transmission lines while working to help homeowners boost their renewable energy efforts. (Southeast Energy News)

• The federal government gives its go-ahead to start construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia, marking the first time the project has met all the requirements for construction along its 303-mile route. (Roanoke Times)
• Meanwhile, FERC grants permission to begin clearing trees in West Virginia along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s path, even though the project hasn’t yet attained all of its required environmental approvals. (Metro News Service)
• More than 50 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia say they will monitor the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s construction to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Dominion to regulators: accept our takeover or watch SCANA go bankrupt

NUCLEAR: South Carolina utility customers would owe another $2.8 billion over the next two decades for the now-failed Summer nuclear project if Virginia-based Dominion Energy buys the state-owned utility’s parent company. (The State)

• Dominion Energy’s top executive told South Carolina utility regulators in a presentation Thursday that state leaders either could accept Dominion’s proposed takeover of the SCANA utility company or watch it go bankrupt. (Post and Courier)
• South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants utility customers to stop being charged, or be charged less, for the Summer project while policymakers work to make payment decisions. (Post and Courier)
• Some analysts say Virginia-based Dominion Energy’s plan to buy South Carolina utility SCANA shows shareholder gains and few ratepayer benefits. (Utility Dive)

• North Carolina regulators announced more setbacks for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, delaying a decision on its clean water certificate as well as other environmental permits.

Dems allege hypocrisy after Trump excuses Florida from offshore drilling plan

OFFSHORE DRILLING: After the Trump administration dropped Florida from its offshore drilling push, coastal state Democrats accused the White House of hypocrisy for not recognizing other states’ concerns about the potential impact on tourism. (Associated Press)

• Other states that want to be exempt from the offshore drilling plan including North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. (Washington Post, News & Observer, Post and Courier, Virginian-Pilot)
• The American Petroleum Institute criticized the Trump administration’s decision to remove Florida from its offshore drilling plan as “premature.” (Washington Examiner)

NUCLEAR: Virginia-based Dominion Energy is working to win over South Carolina lawmakers, regulators and electric customers less than a week after announcing its proposed takeover of the state’s SCANA utility company. (Post and Courier)

• Dominion Energy is investing $1 billion in its solar fleet in Virginia and North Carolina, making it among the country’s utilities with the largest solar portfolios. (WTOP)
• Solar companies are asking South Carolina’s new legislative energy caucus to lift the state’s cap on residential solar projects.

Trump administration drops Florida from offshore drilling plan

OFFSHORE DRILLING: After meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday he is removing Florida from the Trump administration’s plan to open nearly all U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. (Bloomberg)

• The removal of Florida from the White House’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas exploration underscores its deep unpopularity. (New York Times)
• Virginians are also protesting the proposal and Gov. Terry McAuliffe has asked the state not be included in the plan. (WVTF)

• Environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over its approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying FERC didn’t do enough to establish a need for the project. (Associated Press)
• Dominion Energy says recent cold weather reinforces the need for more natural gas pipelines in Virginia.

Solar manufacturer eyes Jacksonville for U.S. headquarters, manufacturing plant

SUBSIDIES: The GOP-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejects the Energy Department’s plan to boost coal and nuclear power plants. The decision is a victory for natural gas, wind, solar and others. (Associated Press, The Hill)

• An unnamed international solar manufacturer is negotiating $54 million in state and local incentives to establish a U.S. headquarters and manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Florida, promising to bring 800 jobs and $410 million in investment. (Daily Record)
• Florida Power & Light has opened four of eight planned solar plants, while shutting down two of three coal plants it has slated for closure. (PR Newswire, press release)

• As part of its proposal to buy SCANA, Dominion Energy said it would refund South Carolina utility customers $1.3 billion, but ratepayers might have already been entitled to most of that money.

South Carolina utility sale could extend planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline

PIPELINES: Dominion Energy’s planned purchase of South Carolina’s SCANA energy company could lead to an expansion of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is currently slated to run through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. (Associated Press)

ALSO: Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine at a campaign stop Sunday said he is asking FERC for a rehearing on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline now that it has all its commissioners. (News Virginian)

• SCANA won’t give severance packages potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to former executives following the failure of the Summer nuclear project. (Associated Press)
• South Carolina utility customers would receive a one-time payment but still be on the hook for paying $2.2 billion for the failed Summer nuclear project under Dominion Energy’s plan to buy SCANA. (Post and Courier)
• A look at Dominion Energy following its announcement last week that it intends to buy SCANA in the wake of the Summer nuclear plant project failure in South Carolina.

Trump offshore drilling plan ignites debate among coastal states

OIL & GAS: The Trump administration plans to expand offshore oil and natural gas exploration with the largest auction of offshore leases in U.S. history, including federal waters off Southeast states. (Virginian-Pilot)

• The offshore exploration plan puts the Trump administration at odds with environmental groups as well as with some coastal states such Florida. (New York Times)
• Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Florida don’t like the plan to open up waters long closed to offshore drilling there. (Miami Herald)
• Louisiana lawmakers praised the proposal’s potential to boost the economy and energy security, while lawmakers from South Carolina and other states oppose the move for environmental reasons. (The Advocate, Post and Courier)
• Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the plan to increase the country’s offshore drilling will make the United States “the strongest energy superpower.”

Florida senator aims to block repeal of offshore drilling safety rules

OIL & NATURAL GAS: Six small oil and natural gas drilling projects, including sites in Appalachia and Louisiana and Mississippi, will receive about $30 million in federal research and development funds as part of the Trump administration’s effort to boost fossil fuels. (Reuters)

• Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday he will use the Congressional Review Act to block President Trump from overturning safety rules put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf water. (The Hill)
• The first of two applications for a $1.9 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan is approved for an underground natural gas liquids storage hub in Appalachia. (Times Free Press)

UTILITIES: The CEO of Virginia-based Dominion Energy said its purchase of South Carolina’s troubled utility SCANA is “unprecedented in the benefits it provides customers.” (Statehouse Report)

• West Virginia landowners who are being sued by Mountain Valley Pipeline developers argue the project should not have immediate access to their properties. (Metro News)
• Developers have yet to break ground on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is already behind schedule.

Dominion Energy to buy South Carolina’s SCANA after nuclear project failure

NUCLEAR: South Carolina’s SCANA tentatively agreed to a $14.6 billion sale to Virginia-based Dominion Energy on Wednesday in the aftermath of the failed Summer nuclear project. The sale hinges on keeping customer payments for the unfinished reactors. (Post and Courier)

ALSO: Hedge-fund investors will turn a $171 million profit from South Carolina’s nuclear settlement, but they might also be on the hook for unpaid bills to the project’s contractors. (Post and Courier)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: North Carolina electric cooperatives are trying to lure plug-in electric vehicle drivers to rural, scenic areas with new charging stations aimed at tourists. (Southeast Energy News)

• Several South Carolina state lawmakers are calling on utility commissioners to resign after they collectively failed to disclose almost $140,000 in flights and other perks paid by utility associations and other groups. (Post and Courier)
• Following the GOP tax overhaul, the Kentucky Public Service Commission ordered for-profit utilities to track their savings under lower corporate tax rates to ensure they are passed on to customers in the form of lower rates.

White House considers weakening offshore oil drilling regulations

REGULATIONS: President Trump is considering whether to relax safety rules for offshore oil drilling that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (NPR)

SHALE: U.S. crude oil production is nearing record highs, thanks to drilling in major shale oil fields around the country, including in West Virginia. (Washington Post)

• A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Kentucky Utilities over coal ash pollution in one of the state’s lakes, saying it should be addressed by state regulators and not the court. (WFPL)
• Tennessee regulators say it should not cost ratepayers more money or take as long as the TVA utility has estimated to conduct a court-ordered coal ash cleanup. (Associated Press)

• Research economists predict fallout from South Carolina’s failed Summer nuclear plant project will enter a new stage as power companies, regulators and lawmakers continue to pick up the pieces.