WV Motto: Montani Semper Liberi

by Duane Nichols on July 4, 2018

…………………..“Mountaineers Are Always Free”…………………….

Let’s keep West Virginia free of foreign capital and foreign influence

The State motto is a living commitment to maintain our independence

Let’s keep the West Virginia hills very majestic and very grand


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Loh July 4, 2018 at 7:15 am

U.S. Coal Mogul Bob Murray Wants to Run Power Plants Too

From an Article by Tim Loh, Bloomberg News Service, April 10, 2018

CEO Bob Murray says his company isn’t at risk of bankruptcy

Plan would be ‘culmination’ of Murray’s life work, he says.

Murray Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Bob Murray wants to buy coal-fired power plants to shore up his mining company.

An acquisition could happen as early as this year, allowing the company to mine coal, transport it to plants and then burn it to generate power, Murray said on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit in New York.

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit in New York on April 10.

“It’d be the culmination of my life’s work,” he said. “It’s a new concept. If you control the fuel supply, you can price it how you want it.”

Murray has mulled such a purchase for at least 15 years but has come close only twice — both in the past couple of years. The problem has been money, as utilities typically sell off the sites’ capacity payments when they close coal fired plants. That creates cash-flow problems for a potential buyer that could fester for several years.

He has his eye on five different plants, including some of the assets of bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions — the W.H. Sammis plant in Ohio and Bruce Mansfield facility in Pennsylvania, both of which are for sale. Also attractive is FirstEnergy Corp.’s Pleasants Power Station, he said. The West Virginia facility is scheduled to close in early 2019.

“If you can dig coal out of the ground, you sure as heck can run a power plant,” he said. “We can run power plants better than the utilities can.”

The FirstEnergy Bankruptcy

The possibility of going after FirstEnergy assets is an about face from last summer, when Murray said his company might get dragged into a restructuring by FirstEnergy Solutions. He dismissed that possibility Tuesday.

Murray Energy is in a better position this year as its overseas sales have boomed. The company plans to export 22.5 million tons of coal this year, almost a third of its overall production and the most ever. Much of the credit goes to Javelin Global Commodities, a joint venture Murray helped form in 2015 with, among others, former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employees. The London-based trader has the potential to grow as global coal demand continues to shift toward Asian markets.

Murray — who has three sons in their 40s working for the company — said that in 10 years, Murray Energy could own as many as five coal-fired power plants and produce 110 million tons of thermal coal a year, about a sixth of his forecast for annual U.S. production then. He’s not sure if U.S. thermal coal output will have fallen below 650 million tons a year by then, as that will depend on whether the leaders of America’s utilities get behind coal.

But if coal slips below 25 percent of the country’s power mix, “people are going to freeze in the dark,” he said. It’s expected to account for 29 percent of utility-scale power generation in 2018, according to government forecasts.

To keep the lights from going out, Murray expects the U.S. government to declare a power-grid emergency so impressive in scale that it would trigger payments to keep some coal and nuclear power plants online.

That controversial action — under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act — is the “only option right now,” he said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-10/coal-mogul-murray-wants-to-buy-power-plants-to-sustain-business

NOTE: On December 5, 2013, Murray purchased Consolidation Coal Company from CONSOL Energy Inc.: The Ohio County Coal Company’s Ohio County Mine (formerly Shoemaker Mine); The Marshall County Coal Company’s Marshall County Mine (formerly McElroy Mine); The Marion County Coal Company’s Marion County Mine (formerly Loveridge Mine); The Harrison County Coal Company’s Harrison County Mine (formerly Robinson Run Mine); and The Monongalia County Coal Company’s Monongalia County Mine (formerly Blacksville Mine). These companies are now subsidiaries of Murray American Energy, Inc.


Max Garland July 4, 2018 at 7:50 am

WV Consumer Advocate rep calls for rework of how utilities handle tax cuts

From an Article by Max Garland, Charleston Gazette Mail, July 3, 2018

Major West Virginia utility companies are calling for rate increases, despite saving millions of dollars through federal tax cuts, and they must change their approach so customers fully benefit from those savings, according to state Consumer Advocate Division testimony.

Ralph Smith, a senior regulatory consultant at Michigan-based Larkin & Associates, filed testimony Monday with the state Public Service Commission on behalf of the CAD. The testimony is for the PSC’s investigation into how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the corporate federal income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent starting this year, will affect utilities and their customers.

“The revenue impacts of this major tax reform should be viewed by the Commission as material, unplanned, unusual and beyond the control of utility management,” Smith said. “The CAD recommends that the Commission utilize the TCJA-related savings for these large investor-owned utilities to the fullest extent possible to benefit the customers of West Virginia.”

Smith provided overarching and specific recommendations for West Virginia utilities, like Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water, on how to help ratepayers benefit from the tax savings.

He called for savings to generally be addressed in two phases.

The first phase would be refunding customers or reducing their rates based on the savings from the start of 2018 — when the tax cuts went into effect — until when those savings are actually implemented into rates, according to Smith. He called this span of time the “stub period.”

The PSC’s independent staff, in its own filing, also recommended that customers get some sort of return for savings during the stub period.

The staff specifically recommended for the companies “to feed back” savings they have seen since the year began to customers starting Aug. 1. This would be implemented through a “negative surcharge” effective for one year, the staff said.

The second phase Smith recommended would be for utilities to categorize their tax savings as “protected” — which has certain IRS requirements — or “unprotected,” in which those IRS requirements do not apply. That phase also would determine the appropriate period to distribute those payments to customers.

Appalachian Power, which expects to save $235 million from the tax cuts, has asked the PSC for a rate increase that would raise residential bills by an estimated 11 percent a month.

Smith said the company’s savings “should be credited to customers immediately,” and recommended that Appalachian Power set aside $15 million in tax savings to help customers at or below 150 percent of the poverty level.

“This would alleviate some of the hardships these customers have experienced with the sharp rise in their electric bills over the last few years,” Smith said.

An Appalachian Power representative said in a filing that current customer rates “are not expected to be sufficient,” even with tax savings factored in.

John Scalzo, the company’s managing director of regulatory services and finance, said, if the company does record tax savings, it would be returned to customers through an Expanded Net Energy Cost proceeding, which typically covers fuel and energy expenses.

Appalachian Power is proposing to use the tax savings to offset costs for a tree-trimming and removal program, construction surcharges, an economic development program and more — leaving $30.1 million in savings to go directly to customers through an ENEC.

This constitutes “a much sounder approach than increasing certain rates at the same time as decreasing other rates with tax savings,” Scalzo said.

When asked about Smith’s recommendations, an Appalachian Power spokeswoman said the company’s current proposal “provides the most benefit to customers,” but added that the company looks forward to working through different options on the matter.

Meanwhile, West Virginia American Water said it expects to save customers an estimated $11.4 million a year via the tax cuts. In May, the company requested a rate increase that would hike customer bills by roughly 24 percent a month.

That proposed rate increase already factors in the savings, according to the company.

As for crediting customers for savings during the stub period, a West Virginia American representative said the company shouldn’t have to do so.

“I have been advised that in West Virginia the Commission has traditionally set rates on a prospective, not retrospective, basis,” West Virginia American representative Rod Nevirauskas said in a filing.

Nevirauskas added that the costs of service changes outside the tax cuts also have to be factored in during the stub period, to avoid “improper single-issue ratemaking.”

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones filed their own testimony in the proceedings, reiterating that customers should see the full benefits of the tax cuts.

“In my sworn testimony, I urge the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to follow the examples in other states — including Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Ohio — where large utilities are reducing rates and returning the millions of tax savings to customers,” Carper said in a statement. “Anything less for West Virginia would be egregious.”

The PSC is holding a hearing on how the tax cuts will affect utilities at 9 a.m. July 24 at 201 Brooks St., Charleston. It is to continue July 25 and 26, if necessary.

Source: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/business/wv-consumer-advocate-rep-calls-for-rework-of-how-utilities/article_6e07900a-00be-59e7-a340-784c8a4dbc1d.html


INEOS News July 4, 2018 at 8:06 am

INEOS signs second deal to ship more ethane to Europe – and orders more ships

From the INEOS News Service, Inch Magazine, 2014

INEOS has signed another deal to import more competitively-priced shale-derived ethane from the US to help reduce the operating costs of its European gas crackers.

INEOS Europe AG will begin accepting shipments from CONSOL Energy in Pittsburgh from next year.

“This will allow us to continue to consolidate the competitiveness of INEOS’ ethylene production in Europe,” said David Thompson, Procurement and Supply Chain Director.

Two years ago INEOS became the first petrochemical company in Europe to seize the opportunity to import cheaper energy and feedstocks from Range Resources in the US.

In December 2012 it finalised 15-year contracts with three US companies which would be responsible for the drilling, distributing, liquefying and shipping of ethane from America to INEOS’ Rafnes plant in Norway.

On May 7, 2014 INEOS announced that it had reached an agreement with Evergas to increase the number of shipping vessels to six. Those ships are currently being built in China and will transport the ethane to both the Rafnes site and INEOS’ Grangemouth plant in Scotland.

The ships are the largest, most flexible and advanced multi-gas carriers yet to be built. They will provide INEOS with a flexible solution for their ethane supplies with the option of transporting LNG, LPG as well as petrochemical gases including ethylene.

“The advanced design of these vessels offers very high efficiency and unparalleled flexibility to INEOS securing the longevity and strong position of their business” said Martin Ackermann, CEO of EVERGAS.

The dual-fuelled vessels will use clean LNG in state-of-the-art engines securing high efficiency, low emissions and reduced fuel cost.

Source: https://www.ineos.com/inch-magazine/articles/issue-6/ineos-signs-second-deal-to-ship-more-ethane-to-europe/

NOTE: The name INEOS is derived from Inspec Ethylene Oxide Specialities, a previous name of the business. It also stems from one Latin and two Greek words that founder Jim Ratcliffe and his two sons found when searching for a company name. “Ineo” is Latin for a new beginning, “Eos” is the Greek goddess of dawn and “neos” means something new and innovative. As a result, the name Ineos represents the “dawn of something new and innovative”. Jim Ratcliffe, 65, chief executive of Ineos, in May 2018 topped the Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £21.05 billion, making him the UK’s wealthiest person.


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