OPEC – US Energy Independence = Renewables

Maverick Energy Consulting - we sit on your side of the table.

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but if you know me, you’ve heard me say it a few times…..“to make renewable/clean energy more attractive, fossil fuels must get more expensive”

It appears the Biden policy is already working…..With Trump on his way out, Saudi Arabia unilaterally cut production by 1.0 million barrels per day in the months of February and March. The move enriched the country and has been a major factor in crude oil’s most recent seven-day oil price rise that drove the price back over $53 a barrel. The value of Saudi assets will rise, enriching the Kingdom while U.S. producers will not be able to fully take advantage of the price increase because of uncertainty about regulation in the future and fears about capital.

U.S. producers racked up a lot of debt during the COVID-19 demand crash and now banks are more reluctant to lend them money — not only for economic reasons but because of political correctness and pressure by investors to go green. Moody’s reports that North American oil exploration and production companies have about a billion in debt that will mature between now and 2024, and pipeline companies have an additional $123 billion in debt coming due over the same period.

Senate Control = Green New Deal = Solar Opportunity?

Democrat Senate control will make it easier to pass legislation aimed at curbing climate change.  With Chuck Schumer as the Majority Leader, the democrats will have extensive power to decide legislative priorities and which bills advance to final vote.

Why you might care: This will impact both the speed and scope of potential “green new deal” energy laws and regulation at the federal level.  Such things as solar power could receive a bigger push of incentives than before.   Also – watch for aggressive individual state legislation to promote renewable energy and EV sales.

Nicor Rate Case Update

On December 11, 2020 NICOR filed Rebuttal Testimony. In its Rebuttal Testimony NICOR rejected all the proposals and arguments presented by intervenors. NICOR is essentially standing by its original proposal. NICOR did recognize that some changes need to be made for seasonal customers who do not use natural gas during certain seasons, such as the winter period. However, these changes only affect a few customers.

If the proposed changes are adopted by the ICC, the out-of-tolerance penalty costs for large customers could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars per month or more. Based on data responses NICOR provided to intervenors, NICOR did not make any attempt to assess the financial risk of their proposed changes to customers. The daily tolerance penalty proposal also has a potential to significantly impact the cost of natural gas being delivered to the Chicago and Midwest markets.

Intervenors are scheduled to file their Rebuttal Testimony on January 14, 2021 and NICOR will file its Surrebuttal Testimony on January 29, 2021. If NICOR modifies any of its proposals before a Final Order is issued it must occur either through negotiation with the intervenors or made in its Surrebuttal testimony.

Asian Nat Gas Prices soar above $14 per MMBtu

In recent weeks, LNG export flows have been steadily increasing and are now near maximum output around 11 Bcf/d. This looks sustainable as long as Asian prices remain at or near 6-year highs over $14/MMBtu

Goldman Sachs likes Solar

Per a Jan 5, CNBC article – “We remain positive on solar equities heading into 2021 given ongoing secular growth amidst renewed policy support and attractive financing conditions, while leverage to emerging high-growth verticals like battery storage adds scarcity value to certain pockets of the group as well,” the firm said in a recent note to clients.

Net Metering comes back to Ameren

The Illinois Commerce Commission has agreed with solar advocates that faulty math should not determine which residential solar customers in the state receive retail-rate net metering – the compensation residential solar owners receive for the surplus power they put back on the grid.

In a Dec. 2 decision, the commission rejected investor-owned utility Ameren Illinois’ calculation of a 5% threshold, which, the utility claimed, allowed it to switch new residential solar customers from retail-rate net metering to significantly lower “location-based distribution rebates.”