Electric Power news briefs, July 13

Black Hills Corp. ... Indeck Capital Inc. ... Sierra Pacific Resources ... Dynegy Inc. ... NRG Energy Inc. ... Utility.com ... Guardian Pipeline ... CMS Energy Corp. ... WICOR Inc. ... Northern States Power Co. ... Viking Gas. ... Vectren Corp. ... Dayton Power & Light Co. ... HoustonStreet Exchange ... Enron Corp. ... Puget Sound Energy Inc. ... billserv.com Inc.

Black Hills Corp. said it has completed its acquisition of Indeck Capital Inc., merging it into Black Hills Energy Capital Inc. The new entity will own varying interests in 14 operating independent power plants in California, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Idaho totaling about 350 Mw, and will also manage equity of about $750 million in six power-related funds. The power funds have investments in over 35 power projects throughout the US and various foreign countries. The Indeck transaction, announced in January, is Black Hills Corp. biggest acquisition to date. Public Service Co. of Colorado has awarded Black Hills Energy Capital two more independent power projects totaling 90 Mw to be built in the Front Range of Colorado. It is currently anticipated the projects will have 10-year contracts from Public Service of Colorado; the plants are scheduled to come on line in second quarter 2002. Black Hills Energy Capital has over 550 Mw in various stages of development and will continue to evaluate potential acquisitions. ABN AMRO NV and Scotia Bank provided a $115 million credit facility.

Sierra Pacific Resources, Reno, said Wednesday unanticipated second quarter fuel and purchased power costs for the company's two Nevada utility subsidiaries will likely exceed budgeted expenses by $70-80 million. Mark Ruelle, senior vice-president, chief financial officer, and treasurer for Sierra Pacific Resources, said the company has paid significantly more for fuel and purchased power than budgeted, while above-normal temperatures increased demand for electricity. He said fuel and purchased power expenses will have a negative impact on second quarter earnings and an ongoing negative earnings impact for the remainder of the year. The company said it has pending litigation which, in combination with future energy cost rate filings, will, if successful, mitigate the impact of higher energy costs. Court hearings are scheduled to begin Thursday. The company is involved in settlement discussions pertaining to these and other issues.

Dynegy Inc. and NRG Energy Inc. reported they have jointly completed a 100-Mw expansion of the Rocky Road Power Plant, a natural gas-fired, simple-cycle peaking facility in East Dundee, Ill. The installation of an additional 100-MW natural gas-fired combustion turbine in less than 11 months increases the facility's generating capacity to a nominal 350 Mw. Dynegy is selling power generated at the Rocky Road power plant in the wholesale electricity market to investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives, and municipalities throughout the Midwest and other regions of the country.

Internet utility Utility.com, Albany, Calif., said it is the first independent company to be granted a license to sell electricity in the 1.3 million Connecticut residential market by the Department of Public Utility Control. Utility.com said it can save customers up to 20% off the electricity portion of their energy bill and provide customers online billing and customer service. Utility.com currently supplies electricity service in California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania and is registered to provide service in Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Utility.com is seeking licenses to provide electricity service to 23 states and the District of Columbia by the end of 2001.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a draft environmental impact statement determining construction of Guardian Pipeline will have limited environmental impact, the company reported. FERC will take written public comments until Aug. 28. A final FERC decision on the Guardian Pipeline is expected by early 2001. A final environmental impact statement is expected early next year. The Guardian Pipeline will transport natural gas from interconnections with Alliance, Northern Border, Midwestern Gas Transmission, and Natural Gas Pipeline of America at the Chicago hub near Joliet, Ill., to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin markets. The project will consist of about 25,000 hp of compression and 141 miles of 36-in. pipe extending from Joliet to Ixonia, Wis., with an additional 8� mi. of 16 in. lateral pipe extending from the main Guardian line to near Eagle, Wis. Guardian is a partnership among CMS Energy Corp., WICOR Inc., and Northern States Power Co. unit Viking Gas.

Vectren Corp., Evansville, Ind., said the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has approved the proposed acquisition of natural gas distribution assets from Dayton Power & Light Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of DPL Inc. The business will operate under the name Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio Inc. The order also provides that Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio will adopt DP&L's existing tariff for gas service. Vectren is awaiting approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and certain local authorities. The acquisition will add about 305,000 residential, commercial, industrial, and government natural gas customers.

HoustonStreet Exchange and Enron Corp. have reached an agreement under which North American electricity and natural gas prices posted on EnronOnline will automatically be posted on HoustonStreet.com., the companies reported. Traders will be able to act on the EnronOnline prices via either platform. The addition of EnronOnline pricing will correspond with the launch of HoustonStreet's natural gas platform in September. The combination of Enron's liquidity and HoustonStreet's trading platforms and existing strategic relationships with Conoco Inc., Equiva (the US trading arm for Shell, Texaco Inc., and Saudi Aramco), Sithe Energies Inc., Williams, and Vivendi SA will provide energy traders added functionality and reach, the companies said.

Puget Sound Energy Inc. has selected billserv.com Inc., San Antonio, to develop an electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) system, billserve.com reported. The new EBPP system will allow Puget Sound's customers to view and pay their bills directly on the company's web site and at banks, portals, and billing aggregation sites. With more than 50% of customers owning personal computers and having access to the internet, electronic billing more and more is a favored method of bill payment, said Tom Shannon, Puget Sound Energy product marketing manager.

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