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May 13-17: PG&E lines linked to deadly Camp Fire; Cameron LNG starts production

A look back at successes and setbacks in the energy industry.


ONCOR — Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC on May 16 completed its acquisition of InfraREIT Inc. and its subsidiary InfraREIT Partners LP for about $1.33 billion. As part of the transaction, Oncor parent Sempra Energy acquired a 50% limited-partnership interest in Sharyland Utilities LLC for about $98 million, subject to certain post-closing adjustments.

CAMERON LNG — The first liquefaction train of the Cameron LNG export terminal has begun production, Sempra Energy announced in a May 14 news release. Project developers began moving natural gas into train 1 in April, the final commissioning step for the train in the first phase of the terminal located in Hackberry, La. "Cameron LNG expects to load cargoes in the coming weeks — another major step forward to bringing cleaner, affordable energy to global markets," Sempra LNG LLC COO and Cameron LNG board chair Lisa Glatch said in the news release. The approximately $10 billion first phase of the Cameron LNG project includes three trains with a total expected production capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum of LNG, or about 1.7 Bcf/d. The second and third trains of the project are expected to come online in 2020.


GENERAL ELECTRIC — General Electric Co. is preparing to burn through a substantial amount of cash in its power and renewables divisions through the rest of the year, Senior Vice President and CFO Jamie Miller said May 15 at an investor conference. "Renewables has a significant volume ramp" coming through the rest of 2019 with strong demand for wind turbines as project developers race to qualify for an expiring federal tax incentive, Miller said. GE expects to deliver a record number of turbines through 2020. GE also is "working our way through" efforts to steady the power division after misjudging demand for natural gas turbines. GE's power division was a big "negative cash flow generator" for the company in 2018 and "we expect it to be also significantly negative this year," Miller said.

NET METERING — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on May 16 signed bipartisan legislation that lifts the state's cap on net metering and expands renewable energy access for customers of the state's electric utilities. The South Carolina General Assembly unanimously approved House Bill 3659 after a previous effort to lift the net metering cap failed on a technicality. The measure increases South Carolina's 2% cap on net metering for rooftop solar customers and extends the current net metering rate until the Public Service Commission of South Carolina establishes a successor tariff. "We are pleased this comprehensive, compromise bill has been passed by the Legislature. It is the next step in the right direction for solar policy in South Carolina," Duke Energy Corp. said.


PG&E — California fire officials said May 15 that transmission lines owned and operated by PG&E Corp. utility subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or PG&E, sparked the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history. PG&E's power lines ignited the Camp Fire early Nov. 8, 2018, near the community of Pulga in Butte County, Calif., the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE, said in a news release. Strong winds, "tinder dry" vegetation, low humidity and warm temperatures caused the fire to spread rapidly east into Pulga and west into several other communities. New PG&E Corp. President and CEO Bill Johnson appeared before a panel of California lawmakers on the day the report was released. While he worked to assure lawmakers that he was "called" to lead the "bankrupt, convicted and unpopular" company, Johnson frustrated lawmakers over his lack of understanding with regard to the state's shift to municipal government-run community choice aggregators.