Regulation & Policy

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) imposed a cap on thermal coal prices imports through Qinhuangdao port at RMB750/t from 5 February. Strong demand due to colder-than-normal weather in January had propelled up prices to a record RMB780/t for FOB Qinhuangdao 5500 kcal/kg coal. According to WoodMackenzie estimates, the new price cap will have an impact from now until mid-March.

Passing the final verdict after an eight-year quarrel over the failed Kemper “clean coal” power plant, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) ordered to keep the plant running solely on natural gas and not pass any losses on to ratepayers. Commissioners voted unanimously that all risk needs to be removed from ratepayers for the lignite coal related assets at the facility. More so, a forthcoming compliance filing will decrease the bill of an average residential customer by 2.4%, or over $3.00 per month.

CNMC, the Spanish energy regulator has rejected a government proposal to prop up the nation’s oldest and most polluting coal power plants. Dealing a blow to subsidies for coal-fired generating capacity, the regulator suggested a “significant part” of the Spain’s coal fleet could be closed without putting national energy security at risk.

Divestment of the 650-MW Malaya coal power plant and its subsequent conversion to run on natural gas can only proceed if the current operator is able to prove the plant’s status as a “must-run-unit,” the Department of Energy (DOE) of the Philippines ruled. This new requirement risks to likely delay, if not derail, the coal-to-gas conversion.

One of the UK’s major remaining coal generators, the 1,960-MW Eggborough Power Station in North Yorkshire, is set to fizzle out in September 2018 after it failed to win a 2018-19 capacity contract. As a consequence, the operator has just updated its planning application to convert the 51-year-old Eggborough facility into a new 2-Gigawatt (GW) combined-cycle gas power plant.

Eco-friendly combined cycle power plants are serving as a “bridge” for South Korea along the road of an energy paradigm shift from nuclear power and coal-fired plants towards new and renewable energies, according to Kim Kyung-won, president of Korea District Heating Corp. (KDHC). Kim pointed out the strengths of the recently commissioned 800-MW Dongtan CCGT which powers Dongtan, a new town under development near Hwaseong City.

Tightening supply of thermal coal ahead of the Lunar New Year risks to cause power shortages in some of China’s northern metropolis, regional utilities warned. In a letter to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), four electric utilities pleaded the government to ease regulations that incentives a switch from coal to gas and increase coal supplies temporarily in order to put a lid on spiraling prices.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the PennEast pipeline in a 4-1 vote, acknowledging the clear need for more gas transport infrastructure along the East Coast. The $1 billion PennEast interstate pipeline will bring up to 1 billion cubic feet of daily low-cost Marcellus gas to customers in southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) has filed to the state’s public utilities commission for permission to increase rates, seeking to recover its $390 million investment in the Mustang Energy Center. The 462-MW peaking power plant is the first gas-fired generator that OG&E has built in more than 30 years.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio on January 10, 2018, announced a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and ConocoPhillips, claiming the companies intentionally misled the public about the effects of climate change in order to protect their profits.  Together with comptroller Scott Stringer, de Blasio submitted a resolution instructing the city's five pension funds to explore ways to divest their fossil fuel holdings.  Between them, the funds hold $5 billion worth of securities in over 190 fossil fuel-related companies. 

Aspirations of the Trump administration to prop up America’s coal industry have been dealt a blow by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which rejected U.S. Energy Rick Perry’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power stations if they stockpiled 90-days worth of fuel. Republican and Democrat members of FERC earlier this week unanimously voted against the Department of Energy’s (DoE) proposed “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule.”

Clarity on the UK coal phase-out will bring the Conservative party’s long-awaited implementation plan which Theresa May will introduce in a speech on her party’s green energy policies this week. One of the UK’s eight remaining coal power stations is expected to shut down this year, the Government said as it reaffirms rules that mandate the closure of all unabated coal-fired generators. Poor economics of coal power stations, combined with effects of the UK carbon floor price and existing EU emission regulations, are likely to lead to all but 1.5 gigawatts of Britain's coal power stations to shut before the 2025 deadline.

South Korea today announced an energy roadmap for 2017-2031 which sets out steps on how to shift the country’s reliance on coal and nuclear power towards renewable energy and natural gas. Paik Ungyu, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy confirmed the government's plan to shut down seven ageing coal power stations and convert six coal power projects to run on LNG.

France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK have announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris that they would “examine or introduce” an effective CO2 price in "relevant sectors." The UK already in April 2013 unilaterally introduced a carbon tax in the power sector, and the five EU energy ministers underlined their new joint initiative could be “an effective tool to comprehensively decarbonise the world economy.”

Chinese authorities have mandated power producers in some regions to return to burning coal, responding to acute gas shortages. Coal imports rebounded from a three-month low in November as utilities seek to replenish stocks prior to the period of peak winter demand.

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