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A piece of coal from Cloud Peak Energy’s Antelope Mine outside Wright is shown.

Have an event, trend or general energy happening you’d like to see in the Energy Journal newsletter? Send it to Star-Tribune energy reporter Heather Richards at heather.richards@trib.com. Sign up for the newsletter at trib.com/energyjournal

Last week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $56.07 Brent (ICE) 65.74

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $3.23, Wyoming Pool $4.01, Opal $4.42

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 1,027, Wyoming 36 

Quote of the Week

"If that Millennium Bulk Terminal was open tomorrow, all 48 million tons (of capacity) could be sold, contracted."

-- Jason Begger, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, on his confidence that Wyoming coal producers would export via a proposed West Coast terminal

Fourth best

When it comes to the most cost-effective place to do business for wind developers, Wyoming makes this list. It just doesn't top it. 

A new study from the University of Wyoming Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy compares the cost of wind development across the Western grid. Wyoming's good wind doesn't make up for some other costs, but does remain quite competitive with its neighbors. 

Increase the wind tax, however, and that competitive edge could dull, depressing economic investment in Wyoming, the researchers note. 

Dreams of exports

There are plenty of Wyomingites who haven't given up on the dream of sending Wyoming coal to Asian power plants. But with Cloud Peak Energy -- the only Powder River Basin company that regularly exports PRB coal to Asia -- in trouble, what impact does that have on Wyoming's dream?

Most doubt it matters much. Dreamers say the demand is out there; economists say the bigger problem has always been the math. It's just too costly to rail coal up to Canadian ports, and the U.S. doesn't have one.

Coal residuals and water

An Obama-era rule forces power companies to publish monitoring data at their coal ash sites. With just a year since that compliance date hit, the results are not good. Environmental groups report that they've compiled about three-fourths of the national coal fleet numbers and just about all are polluting groundwater with contaminants like arsenic. 

Wyoming made the list, with two of PacifiCorp's coal-fired plants marked as the third and fourth worst polluters on the list.

WPA director to retire

Wyoming is about to see the merger of its Pipeline and Infrastructure authorities, essentially forming an energy department in the energy-dependent state. Ahead of that merger, the head of the Pipeline Authority has announced he's retiring. 

Dirty air

Ozone conditions are forming in the Upper Green River Basin this year, with a handful of action days already declared. That's when industry reduces activities that could contribute to ground-level ozone. Last year was a busy year in terms of ozone action days, after a slew of years with no ozone warnings. 

Westmoreland moves forward

A judge has given the nod of approval to an emergence strategy from Westmoreland Coal Co. The firm, which owns the Kemmerer mine in Lincoln County, also secured approval to sell the mine to a Virginia businessman. 

Coal research prospects

Eyeing a $50 million grant, a university partners with Wyoming's Integrated Test Center for future research and potential pilot project. 

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Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner

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Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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