Daily Digest

Lawmakers aim to tap coal mine reclamation fund to extend retiree benefits

COAL: Some lawmakers in Congress want to tap the federal mine reclamation fund to extend health and pension benefits for retired miners. (McClatchy)

ALSO:
• Alpha Natural Resources said it intends to shut down its last operating mine in Kentucky, laying off 117 workers. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
• A new law in West Virginia to fast-track cost recovery for power plant retrofits there is working as advocates hoped, a trade group president says. (West Virginia Record)

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UTILITIES:
• Advocates say Duke Energy’s long-term plans for efficiency initiatives and new power plants are ‘woefully inadequate.’ (Southeast Energy News)
Piedmont Natural Gas in North Carolina has spent almost $25 million on expenses to consummate its merger with Duke Energy. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• A research group’s analysis concludes that MonPower’s takeover of a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia has cost its customers there $164 million since 2013. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

SOLAR:
• Two companies developing solar systems in North Carolina and Virginia may try to sell power directly to customers, not utilities. (PV Magazine)
• Opposition is surfacing in North Carolina to farmers leasing their land for solar systems. (Coastal Review Online)
• A report on solar markets by a consumer group updates the cost of installed systems in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina, among other states. (Energy Manager Today)

NUCLEAR:
• Amid climate change concerns, researchers say a looming threat for nuclear plants across the country is the availability of suitable water to cool them. (Midwest Energy News)
• Questions loom over whether the sale of the TVA’s Bellefonte nuclear plant in Alabama will foster local economic development and create new jobs. (EnergyWire)
• Federal regulators cite issues of “low safety significance” at two reactors in Georgia and one each in Louisiana and Tennessee. (Nuclear Street)
• A plant in South Carolina designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear plants is $12 million over budget at the latest count and potentially decades away from completion. (The State)

PIPELINES:
• The CEO of Dominion says the targeted startup of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been pushed out to early 2019 while asserting its route “is essentially complete.” (Lynchburg News & Advance)
• Three Virginia congressmen call for federal regulators to hold public hearings and one-on-one meetings to vet the environmental impact of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. (Augusta Free Press)

COAL ASH: North Carolina’s environmental agency proposes to allow leaks of ash-polluted water at three Duke Energy sites in the Roanoke and Dan River basins. (Southern Environmental Law Center)

CLEAN POWER PLAN: The grid operator that covers all of West Virginia, most of Virginia and parts of Kentucky and North Carolina concludes that a regional, not a state-based, approach can foster more efficient compliance with the Clean Power Plan. (Utility Dive)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: A hearing officer in Virginia recommends against allowing Tesla to open a company-owned store in Richmond. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

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2010 BP OIL SPILL: Today human statues are to be unveiled in New Orleans to memorialize the 11 men who lost their lives in the explosion. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

COMMENTARY:
• A Georgia utility commissioner says the U.S. should find a way to recycle spent fuel from commercial nuclear plants. (The Energy Times)
• Does the opening soon of two new coal mines in West Virginia for producing steel signal coal’s comeback? (The Exponent Telegram)

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