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NRC Issues Subsequent License Renewals for First Time to Nuclear Reactors in Florida

LCG, December 11, 2019--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff recently approved Florida Power & Light's (FPL's) application for an additional 20 years of operation for Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Units 3 and 4. This is the first time the NRC has issued renewed licenses authorizing reactor operation from 60 to 80 years. The subsequent (or second) license renewals (SLRs) for Turkey Point Unit 3 and Unit 4 now expire on July 19, 2052 and April 10, 2053, respectively.

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New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

LCG, December 4, 2019--The last operating coal-fired power plant in New York is moving toward closure shortly. Last month, Somerset Operating Company, a subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, submitted a request to the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state's required, 180-day notice to close the Somerset Station, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020. Closure is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which will evaluate if it will cause an adverse effect on grid reliability.

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Industry News

California Wants El Paso to Pay for Market Abuse

LCG, Oct. 17, 2001--The president of the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday asked federal regulators to ignore the decision of its top administrative law judge who ruled last week that El Paso Corp. and its affiliates did not conspire to drive up natural gas prices in the state.

Loretta Lynch, appointed by California Gov. Gray Davis to head the CPUC, told lawmakers in Washington that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should "provide a remedy for past illegal actions and set a clear standard for the future." The remedy should be in the form of cash.

Administrative Law Judge Curtis Wagner did not find evidence of manipulation. "While El Paso Pipeline and El Paso Merchant had the ability to exercise market power, there was not a clear showing that they had in fact done so," he said in his October 9 ruling.

But Wagner said transcripts of telephone conversations in February of last year showed clear violation of FERC standards of conduct, which say a pipeline operator must share natural gas transmission information with all shippers and not just its own marketing affiliates.

The standards also require that a pipeline company and its marketing affiliate must maintain "arm's length" separation.

"These telephone transcripts demonstrate blatant collusion on the part of El Paso Merchant and Mojave-El Paso Pipeline to keep secret a discount for service on the downstream Mojave system until the open season ended, giving El Paso Merchant an advantage in making its bid for the total 1,220 million cubic feet per day," Wagner wrote.

The CPUC, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and Southern California Edison Co., claimed El Paso withheld capacity on its pipelines into the state from March through November of last year. They asserted that the action inflated prices, costing the state $3.7 billion more than would have otherwise been paid for gas.

Judge Wagner's decision did not convince Lynch. "This is a textbook case of market power exercised to increase prices unlawfully," Lynch told a U.S. House reform subcommittee hearing on California's natural gas industry.

She added that if FERC fails to find that El Paso exercised market power "there isn't a market power case out there anywhere."

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