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SRE Finishes Phase 1 of Solar Plant

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Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE - Free Report) , has completed the construction of the first phase of Copper Mountain Solar 2 (i.e. 92 megawatt (“MW”)), which is the company’s new 150 MW photovoltaic solar power facility.

Located in Boulder City, Nevada, about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas on a 1,110 acre site, Copper Mountain Solar 2 encompasses 1.5 million solar panels. These solar panels are capable of generating sufficient clean energy to power 27,600 homes on an average.

Construction of the project had begun in December 2011 and it created approximately 630 jobs at the peak of the construction period. With the completion of the second phase, the plant will be able to generate additional electricity of 58 MW, thereby bringing the total output to 150MW. Under a 25-year contract, power generated from the Copper Mountain Solar 2 facility, will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of PG&E Corp. (PCG - Free Report) . The company expects the whole project to be completed by 2015.

Besides completing the first phase of the project, the company has also developed 58MW of solar power at Copper Mountain Solar 1 in Boulder City.

The company is progressing well with its projects worldwide. Recently, the company filed a request with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to add natural gas liquefaction and export facilities to its existing Cameron LNG terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana. The project would create 3,000 jobs at the peak of the construction period and approximately 130 full-time jobs when fully operational.

The project would require additional approvals. However, if all the approvals are granted, then the company expects to begin the construction in the fourth quarter of 2013. The new liquefaction facility will include three liquefaction trains with a total export capability of 12 million tones per annum of LNG, or approximately 1.7 Bcf per day.

Apart from generating revenue for the company, these projects would stimulate local, regional and national economic activity, create new jobs as well as support small businesses.

Sempra Energy is a southern California-based energy services holding company involved in the sale, distribution, storage, and transportation of electricity and natural gas. The company’s businesses are broadly divided into Sempra Utilities, Sempra International and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power.

Sempra Energy’s diversified basket of businesses insulates its operations to a significant degree from regulatory rate risks. Also, geographic disparity in its assets exempts the company from any region specific risk. Thus, we believe that Sempra Energy presents a lower risk-profile relative to its peers like National Fuel Gas Co. (NFG - Free Report) and ONEOK Inc. (OKE - Free Report) .

Recently, Sempra Energy reported its third-quarter 2012 results with pro forma earnings per share of $1.33, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.00 and year-ago figure of $1.20. Going forward, key growth drivers of the company include stable utility earnings, steady progress at its LNG terminals, renewable power projects in the Pacific Southwest, the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line and ongoing installations of smart meter.

However, the above positives are offset due to a lack of any near-term positive triggers, along with near-term trepidation in natural gas prices and pending regulatory cases. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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