AES Corp., Arlington, Va., reported a subsidiary has signed agreements to acquire for $70 million a 56% interest in SONEL, the Cameroonian integrated electricity utility with a 20-year concession on generation, transmission, and distribution countrywide. The other 44% will remain with the government. SONEL is one of Africa’s largest electricity utilities with 800 MW of capacity.

Black Hills Energy Ventures, a unit Black Hills Corp., Rapid City, SD, said the 40 Mw gas-fired Valmont, Colo. became operational in early July. The power is under a long-term contract with Public Service of Colorado. The 30 Mw combined cycle upgrade of the Harbor facility near Long Beach, Calif., is also operational, the company reported.

Natural gas and refined products pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Inc., Houston, reported second quarter earnings nearly doubled to $49.9 million, or 41¢/diluted share, up from $24.8 million, or 22¢/diluted share, in the same quarter a year ago. Separately, a unit of the company reported signing a definitive agreement to buy a partnership that owns a Texas natural gas pipeline system for $360 million. The acquisition, from an affiliate of Occidental Petroleum Corp., includes 2,600 miles of pipeline that primarily transports gas from south Texas and the Texas Gulf Coast to the greater Houston/Beaumont area.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a notice of application by Trinity River Authority (TRA) for a preliminary permit to build a hydropower plant at Lake Livingston Dam in Texas. TRA said FERC is expected to issue a preliminary permit in late September. TRA is investigating a hydropower development in cooperation with the East Texas Electric Cooperative, which serves 10 electric cooperatives. TRA said it anticipates developing a 50 Mw facility. Symbiotics LLC, Rigby, Ida., has filed a similar application.

Duke Energy Field Services, a unit of Duke Energy Corp., Charlotte, NC, said it purchased the former MCN Investment Corp.’s interest in Dauphin Island Gathering Partners (DIGP), Mobile Bay Processing Partners (MBPP), and Gulf Coast NGL Pipeline LLC (Gulf Coast). DIGP, MBPP, and Gulf Coast are integrated midstream facilities designed to gather, transport, and process natural gas produced in the Gulf Mexico. Terms were not disclosed.

Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Houston, ordered a 5 kw fuel cell power system with a natural gas reformer from DCH Technology Inc., Valencia, Calif., for testing and demonstration, DCH reported. A HARC consortium is assessing several stationary proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells as part of a multiyear study. The unit to be delivered to HARC is about the size needed to serve the average power needs of a residence or the critical loads in a small business office.

The Trent Mesa wind generation project under construction near Abilene, Tex., is being expanded to 150,000 kw of production from 130,000 kw under an agreement between TXU Corp., Dallas, the buyer of Trent Mesa’s electricity output, and American Electric Power Co. Inc., Columbus, Ohio, the owner and operator of the facility, the companies reported. The expansion will increase AEP’s investment in the project to $160 million.

TransAlta Corp., Calgary, Ont., said Pierce Power LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary has received regulatory approval for a new 154 Mw simple cycle gas-fired power plant to be built in Frederickson, Wash. The plant is scheduled to be operational by the third quarter. The project is expected to contribute net earnings of 2¢/share in 2001 and 2002.

A unit of Williams, Tulsa, Okla., filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a delivery lateral pipeline in San Bernardino County, Calif. Kern River Gas Transmission Co. is proposing to build 32 miles of 24-in. diameter pipeline in southern California to supply gas to the High Desert Power Project LLC near Victorville, Calif. The lateral pipeline will have a delivery capacity of 282,000 dekatherms/day. Completion is scheduled for Sept. 1, 2002.