The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on April 16 approved plans by units of Cheniere Energy Partners to add up to four modular trains of natural-gas liquefaction and export capability to an existing liquefied-natural-gas terminal in Cameron Parish, La. Cheniere said the FERC approval, the agency's first for an LNG export facility in the U.S., clears the way for the firm to secure the remaining financing for the $10-billion project. In 2011, Cheniere entered into a lump-sum turnkey contract with Bechtel Corp. to engineer, procure and construct the first two trains capable of exporting nine million tons a year of LNG. Commercial operation is set for 2015-16. Cheniere already holds long-term pacts to send 16 million tons per year through the facility.
The Maryland Public Service Commission on April 12 directed four state utilities to sign long-term agreements with a developer to build a 661-MW natural-gas-fired plant in Waldorf. The agency said it ordered the $500-million project because the regional grid operator, PJM Interconnection, could not deliver the 650 MW to 700 MW of new generation needed in the state by 2015, although the total is less than the 1,500 MW originally sought. But the grid operator opposed the state's plan for independent generation, claiming it would suppress prices and result in only subsidized projects being constructed. Regulators, who say no new generation has been built in the state since 2003, are concerned about regional power shortfalls as coal-fired plants are retired.