Controversial provisions added to North Carolina renewable energy bill

NOTE TO READERS: Southeast Energy News is taking a break for Independence Day. The email digest will return on Wednesday, July 5. RENEWABLE ENERGY: A North Carolina Senate committee adopted amendments in a late-evening session to an energy bill that would reduce the state’s commitment to new solar construction and impose a moratorium on wind projects. (Charlotte Business Journal, Raleigh News & Observer)

ALSO:
• However, North Carolina lawmakers are negotiating an agreement that restores the long-negotiated balance of the initial solar reform bill. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Atlanta-based UPS announces that 25 percent of the electricity it consumes will come from renewable energy sources by 2025. (Triad Business Journal)

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Dominion Energy looks to invest $1.8 billion in pumped hydro storage in Virginia

STORAGE: Dominion Energy is looking at sites in southwest Virginia to invest more than $1.8 billion in a pumped hydroelectric storage station, which could be a “game-changer” for the region. (Beckley Register-Herald)

RENEWABLE ENERGY: The U.S. Conference of Mayors concluded in Florida with a unanimous commitment from more than 250 cities to run completely on renewable energy sources in two decades. (Associated Press)

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SOLAR:
• Florida Power & Light is partnering with the Naples Zoo to install more than 700 solar power panels there. (Naples Daily News)
• A report released Monday says Georgia-based Suniva’s request to impose tariffs on solar panels could devastate the U.S. industry, wiping out two-thirds of solar systems anticipated to be installed over the next five years.

Federal review of gas pipeline project finds limited environmental impact

PIPELINES: Federal regulators’ final environmental review for the Mountain Valley Pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia is mostly favorable for developers, though the project is opposed by many environmental groups and landowners. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• An official under Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wrote a letter to Dominion Energy saying the state will not base decisions related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline “on requests or suggestions from an applicant.” (Roanoke Times)
• Virginia’s Democratic candidate for governor, Ralph Northam — who has not come out in favor or against the pipelines — faces pressure from activists. (Roanoke Times)

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NUCLEAR:
• SCE&G and Santee Cooper are expected to continue their review of the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project beyond today’s deadline that was set after the main contractor, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy. (The State)
• The owners of the Summer nuclear plant believed a detailed construction schedule was the basis for the project’s timing and cost, but have learned the documentation doesn’t exist.

Duke pushes back on request for coal ash information

SOLAR: A solar bill in North Carolina that would help many corporate customers to go solar may not help large electricity users like Google and the University of North Carolina. (Southeast Energy News)

ALSO:
• A 1.38 MW solar project between two runways at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina is complete. (Solar Industry)
• Florida Power & Light held its first “Day of Solar” at a science museum in Miami. (Miami Herald)

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COAL ASH: Duke Energy Progress objects to a request for information by North Carolina’s attorney general related to its coal ash disposal, as the company seeks to charge customers for cleanup costs.

Regulators say Kemper ‘clean coal’ plant should run on gas instead

COAL: Mississippi regulators tell Southern Co. to develop a plan to run the Kemper “clean coal” plant on natural gas instead, and to shield ratepayers from further cost overruns for “unproven technology.” (Bloomberg) 

NUCLEAR: Despite troubled nuclear projects, several companies are still considering future reactors in the Southeast. (Utility Drive)

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OIL & GAS:
• Tropical Storm Cindy has shut down one-sixth of the oil production in the Gulf and when the storm makes landfall, it could disrupt even more oil and gas operations.

Congress works to remove tax credit deadline for nuclear plants

NUCLEAR: U.S. House lawmakers approved legislation on Tuesday that removes a tax credit deadline and could save hundreds of millions of dollars for the struggling Vogtle and Summer nuclear projects. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

ALSO: Researchers are starting an program in Georgia to monitor for possible contamination from two nearby nuclear facilities. (WABE)

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PIPELINES: Reporters question why a Virginia agency waited nearly seven weeks to correct what it later called an error in public perception of its handling of water-quality certifications for pipelines. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

COAL:
• After being legally barred because of their emissions, two of Dominion Energy Virginia’s coal-burning units are temporarily running again to provide electricity during “critical situations” this summer.

Duke withdraws request to use coal additives that posed risk to water

COAL: Duke Energy has withdrawn a request to add chemicals at several coal-fired plants that reduces air pollution but caused an increase in contaminants in Charlotte’s drinking water. (Charlotte Observer)

ALSO: Louisville Gas & Electric has released a map showing a worst-case scenario flooding from a contaminated ash pond. (Courier-Journal)

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NATURAL GAS: Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. will become the largest U.S. natural gas producer after agreeing to buy holdings in the Marcellus shale in Appalachia.

North Carolina bill would ease Duke’s coal ash requirements

COAL ASH:
• North Carolina lawmakers are considering legislation that would ease new requirements on Duke Energy to find environmentally safe recycling uses for coal ash from some of its plants. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Court documents show that insurers targeted by a Duke Energy lawsuit believed the utility knew the risks of coal ash contamination but failed to take adequate safeguards. (Charlotte Observer)

PIPELINES:
• The Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline that runs through Alabama, Georgia and Florida will be partially in use in the coming days and should be fully operational by the end of the month. (Associated Press)
• Virginia’s DEQ says “additional measures and opportunities for public review and input are necessary” for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects. (Roanoke Times)

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One-third of U.S. solar workforce could be lost under Suniva’s proposed trade protections

SOLAR: If Georgia-based Suniva receives its proposed trade protections, an industry group says an estimated one-third of the U.S. solar workforce could be lost next year and the price of imported solar panels could double. (Solar Industry, Bloomberg)

ALSO:
• Construction has begun on all eight of Florida Power & Light’s solar projects totaling 600 megawatts, making it one of the largest solar expansions ever in the eastern United States. (SaintPetersBlog)
• Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham are building a house powered completely by solar energy as part of a competition against 11 other colleges. (Alabama News Center)

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NUCLEAR:
• A clean energy group says the cost of Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear expansion is now estimated at $29 billion, which is $9 billion higher than before, while “idle time, early quits and late starts remained high” among construction workers at the project, which is three years behind schedule.

Southeast utilities fare poorly in energy efficiency scorecard

EFFICIENCY: A report published Wednesday ranks Alabama Power last among the nation’s largest utilities for efficiency, with other Southeast utilities among the bottom ten; authors say lack of state incentives is a factor. (ACEEE, Orlando News Sentinel)

NUCLEAR: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday signed a bill lifting the state’s moratorium on nuclear power plant construction. (Paducah Sun)

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SOLAR: A solar-industry advocacy group has doubts about a renewable energy bill that is being considered by North Carolina’s Senate. (Public News Service)

CLIMATE: Part of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to regulate the state’s power plant emissions includes establishing a mandatory cap-and-trade program.