Good morning and welcome back. There's a lot happening so let's just get to it . . .
Please keep an eye on the Axios stream for the latest on Hurricane Irma as it heads for Florida. A few things that caught my eye...
Scary: My Axios colleague Lazaro Gamio compiled the imagery above of what the monstrous Irma storm looks like from space. You can see Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricanes Irma and Jose in the Atlantic.
Power loss from Irma: Roughly 1 million customers are without power in Puerto Rico, according to the Energy Department, which also tallies other losses.
Florida braces for impact: Florida Power & Light announced Thursday that it's shutting down two nuclear power plants ahead of the storm's impact, via CNN. The Palm Beach Post, meanwhile, looks at the broader potential effect on the state's electricity:
Disastrous synergy: This big NYT overview piece on Irma includes a look at how a fuel system snarled by Harvey is affecting preparations for Irma in Florida. Via the NYT:
Harvey impact on OPEC: The latest S&P Global Platts OPEC Outlook podcast looks at how Harvey could affect the production-limiting agreement by OPEC and allied producers — notably Russia — that's aimed at taming the global crude oil glut.
Heavy: The rainfall from Hurricane Harvey may have caused Houston to sink by about 2 centimeters, according to geophysicist Chris Milliner, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as reported by my Axios colleague Shannon Vavra.
Chemical aftermath: "A group of seven first responders is suing Arkema, Inc. for $1 million, alleging they suffered 'serious bodily injuries' last week from a release of toxic chemicals during a series of explosions at the company's plant in Crosby, Texas, roughly 25 miles northeast of downtown Houston," the Wall Street Journal reports.
My Axios colleague Amy Harder chatted with a government source and others about what happens if, as many expect, the U.S. International Trade Commission finds that foreign imports of solar cells and modules are hurting domestic manufacturers.
The verdict: Tariffs are likely. "I would place the odds of the president agreeing to some type of remedy at 90%," a Trump administration official familiar with the issue said.
More predictions: "I think [President Trump] will impose tariffs on imported solar panels," said David Goldwyn, a former Obama-era State Department official, at an event hosted Thursday by the Atlantic Council. "The President wants a tariff. All he wants to use is a hammer and solar is the nail."
Why it matters: The two financially struggling manufacturers behind the petition say import penalties on cheap equipment from foreign producers is needed to level the playing field for U.S. producers.
Yes, but: The wider solar energy industry and a number of allied businesses, joined by free-market advocates, are opposing the petition. They say it will raise prices enough to wreak havoc on the economics of solar power projects and slow the sectors's growth.
Read Amy's full story in the Axios stream.
Two pieces about the massive planned IPO of state oil giant Saudi Aramco caught my eye...
London calling: "Two senior British lawmakers are questioning plans by London's financial regulator to change listing rules that would make it easier for Saudi Aramco to go public in London, in what may become the world's largest initial public offering," Bloomberg reports.
The $2 trillion question: Reuters has an in-depth look at the kingdom's claims, disputed by a number of analysts, that Saudi Aramco should be valued at $2 trillion. Their piece cautions that a lot is unknown until they open their books ahead of the planned 2018 IPO, but surmises this much...
Oil sands news from Canada: "TransCanada Corp. is seeking to halt a federal review of its $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline, raising the possibility the project could get scrapped in a move that would spare Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from having to make a politically charged decision on the project's fate," The Globe and Mail reports.
Rebuffing Trump: Two Senate Appropriations Committee Republicans — Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander — joined Democrats in voting to restore $10 million in State Department funding for key United Nations climate change organizations.
PURPA reign: A research note from ClearView Energy Partners concludes that Congress is unlikely to alter the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act anytime soon, putting the odds of action this year at less than 10%. That's their forecast after watching a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Wednesday which, they say, showed a lack of consensus on how to alter the decades-old statute.
Looking forward: Next Tuesday the Energy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on power sector reliability, and witnesses include new Neil Chatterjee, a newly minted member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in what will be his first appearance before Congress as a commissioner.
Speaking of FERC: Two more nominees, including chairman-in-waiting Kevin McIntyre, appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday. I didn't catch the hearing, but Utility Dive editor Gavin Bade's Twitter feed offers a good rundown.
Bill Gates on ARPA-E: The tech pioneer and green energy investor is out with a new blog post touting the successes of the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which funds R&D into cutting edge technology.
My Axios colleagues Erin Ross and Lazaro Gamio have a detailed piece in the Axios stream that looks at the scope and challenges of this damaging western wildfire season (including the nifty visual above).
Why it matters: One section of the story might be of particular interest to Generate readers. John Abatzoglou, who researches fires at the University of Idaho, talked to Erin about whether there's a connection to climate change.
Wet (in places), hot American summer: Speaking of U.S. weather conditions, the NOAA reported Thursday that June-August in the contiguous U.S. was the 15th warmest summer in 123 years of modern record-keeping at 1.3°F above average.