New Power buys Columbia's nonregulated retail operations

The New Power Co., Greenwich, Conn., has agreed to acquire Columbia Energy Group Inc.'s nonregulated retail energy marketing operations for an undisclosed price, the companies reported Friday. Under the agreement, Columbia, which is being acquired by Nisource Inc., Merrillville, Ind., will retain a minority equity interest in the business.


The New Power Co., Greenwich, Conn., has agreed to acquire Columbia Energy Group Inc.'s nonregulated retail energy marketing operations for an undisclosed price, the companies reported Friday.

Under the agreement, Columbia, which is being acquired by Nisource Inc., Merrillville, Ind., will retain a minority equity interest in the business. Columbia's mass marketing operations currently serve about 300,000 retail energy customers in eight states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, New Jersey, Michigan, and Georgia. The transaction is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall.

Launched in May as a national residential and small business energy provider serving markets where natural gas and electricity are deregulated, the New Power Co.'s strategic partners and investors include Enron Corp., IBM, and America Online Inc. (OGJ Online, May 19,2000)

The acquisition provides access to a sizable customer base said H. Eugene Lockhart, CEO of New Power Co. In May, Lockhart said New Power would complete its technical infrastructure with IBM and America Online by late summer, and would begin offering service in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the second half of 2000.

"We look forward to serving these customers and promoting consumer choice for the provision of energy services," Lockhart said.

Columbia Chairman Oliver G. Richard III said it is selling the nonregulated retail marketing operations, reflecting a decision to concentrate on other aspects of the energy business. Columbia will focus on providing customer choice programs for residential and small business customers in its distribution territories, he said.

Of Columbia's 2.1 million distribution customers, customer choice programs are currently available to nearly 1.7 million, with nearly 640,000 customers enrolled, the company said. By fall 2000, customer choice will be available to some 1.9 million customers in all five of Columbia's local distribution states.

Columbia, Herndon, Va., and NiSource, Merrillville, Ind., reported Feb. 28, 2000, they had entered into a definitive merger agreement, pending shareholder and regulatory approval.

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