Regulation & Policy

China has chosen April 1 as the date when two-digit reductions in Value-Added Tax (VAT) will have to be implemented by key industries, including electric power producers, in bid to lower fuel costs and ultimately reduce electricity prices. Manufacturing companies will benefit from 13% to 16% VAT cuts, while construction and transport firms will pay around 10% less VAT and industrial users of thermal coal, including power producers will see VAT drop by 3%.

Striving to streamline China’s energy market, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is advancing plans to create a single oil and gas pipeline company by mid-2019. The new China-wide TSO will integrate the pipeline assets of former competitors, notably CNPC and its listed arm PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC.

Since the start of the February billing cycles, customers of the Dominion Energy subsidiary SCE&G are enjoying a 15% drop in their expenses for electricity. Dominion had to commit to lower energy bills to get approval from South Carolina’s state regulators for the $7.9 billion SCANA takeover.

Alarmed by an air pollution crisis in Seoul and other key cities, the South Korean government is proposing measures to help utilities to convert their power plants from coal to natural gas in order to reduce worsening levels of toxic fine dust and mercury emissions in Seoul and other northern cities.

U.S. Democrats have voiced concern that Andrew Wheeler, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will undermine the Obama-era Clean Power Plan by rolling back regulation on power plant emissions. President Trump-nominee Wheeler was instated at the top of the EPA after winning a vote in the Senate by 52-47.

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, has proposed to phase out less efficient gas peaking plants to meet the state’s target of reducing greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030, and achieve zero-carbon electricity supply by 2040. The new rules lower the NOx emission threshold, with more stringent controls set to start in five years’ time.

Nearly half of the German public wants a nuclear exit to happen before a coal phase-out: 49.5% of respondents of a Verivox survey say closing the last nuclear plant by 2022, and the last coal plant by 2038, is ‘the right order’. But 44.1% of respondents say nuclear closures are ‘wrong’ from a climate perspective.

Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved the terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA) and a gas supply deal for what will be the fourth LNG-fuelled power project in Punjab province. Built by a Chinese EPC company near the city of Jhang, the start-up of the 1,263 MW plant is being fast-tracked to help avert a regional energy crisis this summer.

Voters in a referendum have approved developers to proceed with a long-delayed gas power plant in central Mexico, one of seven projects halted in the region. About 60% of the votes cast were in favour of finalizing construction of the $1.3 billion power plant project in Huexca, southeast of Mexico City.

Proposals to put a price on carbon emissions – in the form of a CO2 tax – will not be realise in the current legislative period, Germany’s energy state secretary Andreas Feicht said. The Conservative-led Government had earlier dismissed the initiative, saying it was not in the governing coalition’s agreed agenda.

Reacting to blackouts during Australia’s latest heatwave, the federal government is proposing to underwrite and partially fund new fossil power generation capacity. On the cards are large-scale fossil generators as well as decentralized hybrid plants, consisting of wind and solar plus energy storage.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the city’s municipal utility, has abandoned plans to retrofit three gas-fired power plants from water- to air-cooling. Instead, the utility will phase out the Scattergood, Haynes and Harbor gas-fired power units by 2029, and invest renewables to lower its carbon footprint.

With variable renewables accounting for more than half of global capacity additions to 2040, utilities and power grid operators increasingly turn to energy storage to cover their flexibility requirements. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the cost for four-hour battery systems will fall to $220 per kWh by 2040, spurring a utility-scale deployment of energy storage of close to 220 GW.

Though EU member states decided to tighten unbundling rules on gas interconnectors, parliamentarians agreed to a French-German compromise for the €9.5 billion Nord Stream-2 pipeline. The deal places the controversial project “under European control”, but with Germany as the lead negotiator with Russia's Gazprom.

General Electric will have to pay a €50 million fine to the French government after creating just 25 out of a promised 1,000 jobs in the country in connection with the Alstom takeover.

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