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Dec. 31-Jan. 4: Dominion closes SCANA deal; PG&E mulls bankruptcy protection

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Dec. 31-Jan. 4: Dominion closes SCANA deal; PG&E mulls bankruptcy protection

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

Highs

DOMINION — Dominion Energy Inc. announced Jan. 2 that it completed the stock-for-stock acquisition of South Carolina utility SCANA Corp. The deal received its final approval in mid-December 2018 from South Carolina regulators. Under the terms of the transaction, SCANA shareholders received 0.6690 share of Dominion's common stock for each share of SCANA for a conversion of $6.8 billion. Dominion will also assume approximately $6.6 billion in SCANA consolidated net debt. With the addition of SCANA, Dominion will serve approximately 3.3 million electric utility customers and more than 4 million natural gas customer accounts in 18 states.

NEXTERA — NextEra Energy Inc. on Jan. 1 closed its purchase of Florida utility Gulf Power Co. from Southern Co., marking the culmination of three transactions announced in late May 2018. The Juno Beach, Fla.-headquartered energy company agreed to acquire Gulf Power, natural gas distribution utility Florida City Gas and two combined-cycle natural gas plants from Southern for about $6.48 billion, including the assumption of about $1.4 billion in debt.

Between

MISSION COAL — Mission Coal Co. LLC on Jan. 2 finalized and filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan aimed at dissolving the company. The Tennessee-based coal producer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018 in federal bankruptcy court in Alabama, wrote that the plan would "avoid the lengthy delay and significant cost of liquidation under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code." The company plans to sell "substantially all" of its assets as part of its reorganization.

Lows

HYDRO ONE — Toronto-headquartered Hydro One Ltd.'s proposed $5.3 billion acquisition of Spokane, Wash.-headquartered Avista Corp. hit another roadblock after Idaho regulators on Jan. 3 rejected the merger. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission concluded state law expressly prohibits the transaction, pointing to Hydro One's lack of independence from the province of Ontario. "Hydro One is not purely a private, publicly traded corporation," the commission said. "Rather, the management of Hydro One is subject to the province's political pressure, legislative power, and special governance agreements." Hydro One was thrown into turmoil after the election of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who brought wholesale changes to the government-controlled utility's board and senior management. On Dec. 5, 2018, Washington state regulators rejected the merger for largely the same reasons the Idaho regulators identified.

PG&E — PG&E Corp. is reportedly considering seeking bankruptcy protection amid mounting insurance claims tied to fatal wildfires over the past two years. The San Francisco-headquartered parent of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has not yet determined whether to file for bankruptcy for parts of its business or the whole company, Reuters reported Jan. 4, citing people familiar with the matter. It is also possible that the company chooses not to file for bankruptcy, the news agency reported. The report surfaced as PG&E Corp. announced its board of directors is "assessing [the company's] operations, finances, management, structure, and governance" and is searching for new directors for both the holding company and its utility subsidiary to enhance the companies' expertise in safety and other "critical areas." PG&E Corp. also is exploring the sale of its gas utility business to help cover costs associated with extensive wildfire damage, National Public Radio reported Jan. 4.