Energy briefs

** A nuclear power plant in Georgia has begun splitting atoms in one of its two new reactors, Georgia Power said Monday, a key step toward reaching commercial operation at the first new nuclear reactors built from scratch in decades in the United States.

** U.S. regulators sent another list of questions to Freeport LNG on Monday as they evaluated its request to restart full commercial operations of its export facility in Texas. Last month, the privately held LNG export facility, the second-biggest in the U.S., started to exit an eight-month outage that was caused by a fire in June 2022.

** A leaked internal Biden administration memo — which showed officials prioritizing climate change over energy security — could force the White House to pull the plug on a key nominee. In the Nov. 25 memo, former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton recommended that the Department of the Interior (DOI) charge energy companies a royalty rate of 18.75%, the highest allowable rate under the law, for a 958,202-acre offshore oil and gas lease sale in Alaska.

** Despite public outcry over unusually high natural gas prices this winter, California utility executives sought Monday to justify a proposal to generate nearly $5 billion in additional revenue from customers over the next four years. Saying it was a “very difficult time to discuss this request,” Southern California Gas Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric executive Dan Skopec said during a public hearing of the California Public Utilities Commission that the extra money was necessary for infrastructure improvements.

** U.S. President Joe Biden’s top climate advisor says the United States needs to build electricity lines at double the current pace, blaming a sluggish permitting process for delaying vital arteries for the nation’s clean energy transition.

** President Biden and his top officials are increasingly coming under fire for their private plane use, even as the administration is determined to limit greenhouse emissions of the kind those jets produce in abundance. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and even Biden himself have all faced scrutiny for use of private jets fueled by carbon compounds and taxpayer dollars.


** Australia’s natural gas industry should be permitted to follow the most promising returns on capital, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in his first defense of the industry since his government proposed tightening export rules.

** A year on from Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine, Russian fossil fuel exports are still flowing to various nations around the world. A report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air says Russia has made more than $315 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports around the world.

** Negotiations for the construction of a $30 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal between Tanzania, Norway’s Equinor and Britain’s Shell are complete and contract preparations are underway, Tanzania’s energy ministry said.

** Japan’s government will offer 220 billion yen ($1.6 billion) from a green innovation fund to accelerate efforts in Australia to produce hydrogen for export from coal and biomass.