Virginia governor seeks to pause coal ash permits

NUCLEAR: Utilities building new nuclear plants in Georgia and South Carolina are hoping to recover cost overruns through Westinghouse bankruptcy proceedings. (Reuters)

ALSO: Federal regulators order a special inspection of the Turkey Point nuclear plant in Florida after a minor electrical fault. (Palm Beach Post)

COAL ASH: An amendment proposed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe would pause coal ash permitting for more than a year. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

COAL: President Trump reiterates his pledge to support health care for retired coal miners. (McClatchy)

• The Georgia Senate approved a measure Wednesday to loosen restrictions on conservation land to make way for more solar farms in Georgia. (The Daily Citizen)
• Newly proposed changes to expand options for developing solar and other renewable energy projects in North Carolina are expected to be introduced in this year’s legislative session.

West Virginia lawmakers reconsider bill to weaken coal mine inspections

COAL: A bill that would eliminate almost all coal mine safety enforcement by West Virginia inspectors has been removed from consideration and alternative legislation will be released later this week. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

• Since repeating promises of reviving Kentucky’s coal industry earlier this week, no details have emerged on President Donald Trump’s executive actions to do so. (WKU)
• Testimony before Kentucky regulators indicates Appalachian coal may be having difficulty competing on price. (Platts)
• Environmental groups challenge a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing coal mining waste to be dumped into Alabama streams. (Birmingham Business Journal)

CLIMATE: Republicans from Florida, South Carolina and other states warn of the risks if their party continues to ignore climate change: “We can’t deal in alternative facts, or alternative realities.” (McClatchy)

• Two North Carolina lawmakers introduce a bill halting all new permits for wind farms until a study is conducted determining whether there are impacts on military installations. (Coastal Review Online)
• After winning the bid to develop North Carolina’s first offshore wind farm, Avangrid’s next step is a feasibility plan. (Triangle Business Journal)

SOLAR: Florida lawmakers say consumers need more protection as they implement voter-approved tax exemptions for solar.

In Kentucky, Trump renews his pledges to coal miners

COAL: During a visit to Louisville, Kentucky, President Trump said coal miners “have not been treated well, but they’re going to be treated well now”; though retired coal miners continue to worry about being able to afford health insurance under his new plan. (Louisville Courier Journal, WKU)

• After another missed deadline, a public service commissioner said Monday that if Mississippi Power’s Kemper plant “does not deliver as promised, the utility company bears the cost.” (Mississippi Today)
• A spokesperson for the utility serving Owensboro, Kentucky says moving away from coal is “in the best interest of our customers.” (WKU)
• About 1,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide solution leaked from a storage tank at a closed coal mine in West Virginia after vandals shot two holes in the tank. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Although coal miners played a major part in 2016 presidential election, they represent only a tiny fraction of the U.S. workforce. (Washington Post)

• Westinghouse is seeking more than $500 million in bankruptcy funding to enable it to continue building four nuclear power plants in Georgia and South Carolina.

Town in Kentucky’s mining country says it’s quitting coal

COAL: A municipal utility in Kentucky coal country announces it will stop burning the fuel by 2023, most likely transitioning to natural gas. (Paducah Sun, subscription)

• Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe again vetoed efforts to reinstate a tax credit aimed at helping the coal industry, saying they are ineffective at increasing coal mining jobs. (Bristol Herald Courier)
• Two Florida utilities are shutting down a 632 MW coal plant that is no longer economically competitive. (Florida Times-Union)
• Analysts don’t share the Trump administration’s optimism over the future of the coal industry. (Washington Post)

• The majority of those surveyed are concerned about Duke Energy’s coal-ash ponds and also say Duke should pay to clean them up and not charge customers.

Trump budget cuts worry advocates for Appalachian coal miners

COAL: In another delay for the Kemper “clean coal” plant, Mississippi Power now says the facility will not be using lignite for fuel until mid-April. (Biloxi Sun Herald)

• Worker safety advocates and labor groups are concerned about West Virginia’s push for regulatory rollbacks at the same time that the Trump administration is proposing significant cuts to federal agencies responsible for safeguarding workers. (Charleston Gazette-Mail, WV Public Broadcasting)
• President Trump has also proposed eliminating funding for economic development programs supporting laid-off coal miners in Appalachia. (Reuters)

WIND: Avangrid, the same company that developed North Carolina’s first onshore wind farm, wins a nearly $9 million offshore lease. (Raleigh News & Observer)

• Arkansas regulators decide to allow existing solar customers to be grandfathered in under current net metering rates for 20 years.

Critic calls Kentucky nuclear bill a ‘kick in the teeth’ to coal industry

NUCLEAR: The Kentucky House approves a bill to lift the state’s ban on new nuclear plants, which one critic calls a “kick in the teeth” to the state’s coal industry. (Associated Press)

COAL: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has yet to take a position on legislation weakening mine oversight; a spokesman says “the last thing Gov. Justice wants to do is put our coal miners in harm’s way.” (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

• Critics say a new “community solar” law in Virginia is a misnomer and another way for the state’s utilities to control the industry. (Southeast Energy News)
• As the cost of installing solar systems has dropped dramatically in the last few years, the Virginia solar industry sees an increase in demand. (Chesterfield Observer)
• A Georgia county plans to install solar panels at its water treatment plant, which will generate nearly 60 percent of the electricity needed to operate the facility. (Albany Herald)

POLITICS: Representatives from South Carolina and Florida are among House Republicans signing on to a resolution calling for action on climate change.

‘Breathtaking’ legislation would gut West Virginia coal mine inspections

UTILITIES: A new report, conducted by a respected modeling firm using Duke Energy’s own data, finds ratepayers in the Carolinas could save $10 billion if the utility adopted more solar power, closed coal plants ahead of schedule and abandoned a proposed nuclear plant. (Southeast Energy News)

ALSO: Without debate, a Senate committee unanimously approves two bills sought by Florida Power & Light that effectively overturn recent court rulings. (Miami Herald)

POLITICS: A study by a conservative group has found that North Carolina voters support the growth of renewable energy. (Coastal Review Online)

• A new West Virginia bill, described as “breathtaking in its scope” by one critic, dramatically weakens mining inspections, replacing them with “compliance visits.” (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• The Kentucky Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to reduce coal mine inspections.

Toshiba may sell off Westinghouse nuclear division

NUCLEAR: Toshiba is considering selling its Westinghouse nuclear division after receiving an extension to files its earnings. Meanwhile, the CEO of the Charlotte-based Toshiba America Energy Systems has been replaced. (Reuters, Charlotte Business Journal)

ALSO: Despite President Donald Trump’s promises of revival, Kentucky’s lawmakers are acknowledging a need for alternatives to the state’s coal industry as they move closer to lifting a moratorium on nuclear energy. (Associated Press)

• “The game has changed” for oil pipeline construction in Georgia and South Carolina as Republican-backed bills introduce tighter regulations for construction. (Southeast Energy News)
• All three Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor in Virginia now oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (Blue Virginia)
• Alabama manufacturers support President Donald Trump’s call for pipelines to use U.S. steel.

Florida bills designed to help utility overcome unfavorable court rulings

HYDRO: While a bill to push pumped hydro storage in eastern Virginia passed with strong support, experts say the technology has yet to be proven in former coal mines. (Southeast Energy News)

UTILITIES: A Florida senate committee will consider on Tuesday two recently filed bills that address court rulings that dealt significant blows to Florida Power & Light. (Miami Herald)

POLITICS: A Florida congressman is among a growing number of Republicans – now 14 – on the House Climate Solutions Caucus. (E&E News)

• A Georgia bill would exempt property owners from penalties if they allow solar arrays on land covered by agricultural covenants. (Macon Telegram)
• A spokesperson for a Florida utility defends the state’s slow adoption of solar power.

Court allows North Carolina to exit Clean Power Plan challenge

CLEAN POWER PLAN: A federal court grants North Carolina’s request to withdraw from a legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan; meanwhile, President Trump is expected to order the Justice Department to stop defending the plan, likely leaving the case in legal limbo. (WFAE, E&E News)

• Georgia is the top state for solar power developed by rural co-ops, according to a new report. (Solar Industry Magazine)
• Alabama’s largest solar farm is complete and will provide enough electricity to power 15,000 homes. (Yale Climate Connections)
• A new report says the U.S. solar market is poised to triple in size over the next five years. (Greentech Media)

• Florida Power & Light’s project to fix pollution issues issues at the Turkey Point Nuclear station is approved by the state.