Electric Power news briefs, Jan. 30

Jan. 30, 2002
NRG Energy Inc. ... Nisource Inc. ... South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. ... Composite Power Corp. ... OG&E Electric Services ... Electricité de France ... Brighton Beach Power LP ... Coral Energy Canada Inc. ... Cook Inlet Power LP ... Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. ... New York Power Authority ... Pacific Texas Corp. ... Karaha Bodas ... TC PipeLines LP ... NorthWestern Corp.

NRG Energy Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., will build 6,430 Mw less of generating capacity by 2005 than it originally planned. The company previously stated its growth projection was 37,000 Mw by 2005. As a result of project cancellations and construction deferrals, NRG's revised growth projection is 30,570 Mw by 2005. The company also will reduce 2002 construction expenditures by $1.1 billion but will invest $1.9 billion to complete facilities already under way. NRG said it will sell 650 Mw this year raising $350-$400 million.

Nisource Inc., Merrillville, Ind., will boost the balance sheet this year, including paying down debt and improving liquidity. These measures will include selling the Indianapolis Water Co. and a utility locating business, continued reductions of operating and capital costs, and the sale of equity subsequent to the resolution of its pending rate investigation with the Indiana utility regulators.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., a unit of SCANA Corp., Columbia, SC, sold $300 million principal amount of 6.625% first mortgage bonds due Feb. 1, 2032. The bonds were priced to SCE&G at 98.326% and are being offered to the public to yield 6.687% to maturity. SCE&G will use the net proceeds to repay short-term debt.

Composite Power Corp., signed a 50-year lease with the US Department of Energy for a 1,000 acre power plant site located near Richland, Wash. The company proposed using the two partially completed nuclear sites to build an industrial/energy park with a 2,500 Mw gas-fired central power station. Excess power will be sold into the Northwest power grid.

OG&E Electric Services, a unit of OGE Energy Corp., Oklahoma City, Okla., said about half of a proposed $22 million rate increase will be spent increasing security. The additional $12 million will be invested in increased system reliability and on rising utility costs, the company said. The company said it would not seek another increase for at least 3 years.

European Union Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, who is also presiding the energy ministers council over the first half of 2002, told the French daily Le Monde that she was "prepared to seek flexibilities" to obtain France's agreement to the liberalization of the EU's electricity market at the European Barcelona summit in March. She appeared ready to endorse a position outlined by Electricité de France to open industrial markets in 2003-2004. Last year, France, backed by Germany, opposed full opening of the market by 2005.

Canada's Brighton Beach Power LP, a partnership formed by ATCO Power Ltd. and Ontario Power Generation (OPG), signed an energy conversion agreement with Coral Energy Canada Inc. for the proposed 580 Mw combined cycle Brighton Beach Power Station in Windsor, Ont. Coral will deliver gas to the plant and will own, market, and trade all the electricity produced. Coral expects to sell power from the plant in the Ontario electricity market when it opens May 1.

The Michigan Public Service Commission granted Cook Inlet Power LP, Los Angeles, Calif., a license as an alternative electric supplier to sell electric generation to Michigan retail customers. The PSC has approved fourteen previous licenses. Michigan retail customers could choose an electricity supplier beginning Jan. 1.

The staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio recommended approving a modified version of Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co.'s request for a natural gas rate increase. The company sought a rate increase of 5.68% or $26 million. The staff recommended a rate increase of 2.66-3.45% or $10.9-$14.1 million.

New York Gov. George E. Pataki proposed using low cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority to lure industries to relocate to western New York. NYPA's hydropower from the Niagara power project is priced at less than 2¢/kw-hr. Up to 17,000 kw is available, having been relinquished by businesses no longer using the electricity or recaptured from companies unable to keep job commitments in their contracts for the hydropower.

Pacific Texas Pipeline & Transportation Inc., a unit of Pacific Texas Corp., Phoenix, Ariz., is in final discussions with an undisclosed banking syndicate to fund its proposed $1.3 billion West Texas-to-Arizona gas pipeline, said Pres. Michael Owens. The proposed 800-mile, 36-in. line would carry about 1 bcfd to local distribution systems and electric power plants supplying parts of Arizona and California.

Indonesian state oil company Pertamina said it will seek an out-of-court settlement with independent power producer Karaha Bodas, a joint venture among US, Japanese, and Indonesian interests over a deal gone bad. The oil company also said it will appeal a $1 million award by an arbitration panel to the power company after Pertamina canceled a power contract.

TC PipeLines LP, Calgary, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a final certificate, approving the proposed $60 million expansion of Tuscarora Gas Transmission Co.'s pipeline system. The 14-mile extension from Reno to Wadsworth, Nev., will increase Tuscarora's capacity to 220 MMcfd from 127 MMcfd.

The Federal Trade Commission granted NorthWestern Corp.'s request for early termination of the waiting period for its pending $1 billion acquisition of Montana Power Co.'s energy transmission and distribution business. With the FTC clearance, NorthWestern, Sioux City, SD, has received all regulatory approvals to complete the Montana Power transaction in the next few weeks.

The Michigan Public Service Commission authorized nine Michigan electric cooperatives to use deferral accounting for their costs associated with the implementation and administration of electric customer choice in their respective service territories. The PSC concluded granting the request does not guarantee recovery of these costs and directed the cooperatives to file a rate case.