Trump climate order unlikely to provide significant boost for coal country

CLIMATE: President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today undo climate change initiatives in an effort to boost domestic energy production of fossil fuels. (Associated Press)

• Trump’s executive order is unlikely to provide any significant rescue for West Virginia’s coal industry and others because it won’t immediately boost demand for coal. (Charleston Gazette-Mail, Bloomberg)
• Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell announced his support on Monday to accelerate the release of mine reclamation funds. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
• A West Virginia senator pushing to extend retired coal miners’ benefits will meet with miners on Friday. (Associated Press)
• Historic photos show the rise and decline of a Kentucky coal town.

Westinghouse expected to file for bankruptcy as early as tomorrow

NUCLEAR: Despite setbacks in other states, a Virginia utility is moving forward with plans for a new nuclear reactor. (Southeast Energy News)

• Nuclear contractor Westinghouse is expected to file for bankruptcy as early as tomorrow. (Reuters)
• A consumer advocacy group warns that Georgia Power customers could end up taking on more of the costs to build Vogtle plant. (WABE)
• Entergy continues to face equipment and safety challenges at its Arkansas Nuclear One plant nearly four years after one worker was killed and eight others were injured. (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

TRANSMISSION: A Tennessee county commissioner says Sen. Lamar Alexander is putting “his own agenda ahead of what’s best for West Tennessee” in his opposition to a clean energy transmission line.

New West Virginia bill preserves state coal mine inspections

COAL: A new bill unveiled Thursday in a West Virginia Senate committee is a retreat from previously proposed legislation that would have eliminated almost all authority over the state’s coal mines. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

• Numbers released Thursday show population declines in West Virginia’s southern coal-producing counties led to an overall drop in the state’s population last year. (Associated Press)
• Officials are investigating a coal slurry leak into a stream in West Virginia that is thought to have come from a pipe at a nearby plant. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

• A federal judge ruled Thursday that arsenic flowing from a Dominion Virginia Power coal ash site violates the Clean Water Act, but did not to impose penalties or mandate how the violation should be addressed. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
• As coal ash continues to be imported into the Southeast for use in concrete, Virginia lawmakers pursue policies to make it more viable to recycle local ash.

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.