Electric power news briefs for September 21

Suburban Propane Partners LP will begin selling propane gas through online marketer Essential.com Inc., said Paul R. Lewis, Essential.com CEO. Suburban Propane is one of the largest propane companies in the country, servicing more than 750,000 customers in more than 40 states.

Standard & Poor’s said it has affirmed its triple-‘B’ rating on Edison Mission Midwest Holdings Co. (EMM) $1.8 billion revolving credit facilities and its ‘A-2’ rating on the company’s commercial paper. The outlook is stable. The affirmation follows Standard & Poor’s revision of its rating outlook on EMM Holdings parent, Edison Mission Energy Corp. (EME: single-‘A’-minus/Negative/’A’-2), to negative from stable. Although EMM Holdings benefits from implied parental support from EME, the rating action on EME does not affect the EMM Holdings rating. EMM Holdings, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of EME, owns, operates, and maintains a diverse portfolio of 9,539 Mw of generating assets in the Chicago area.

Standard & Poor’s reported it has revised its rating outlook on PG&E Generating Co. LLC (PG&E Gen) to negative from stable to reflect the negative outlook placed on both PG&E Corp. and its wholly owned utility subsidiary, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The outlook change on PG&E Gen reflects the possible weakening of the parent company, which implicitly provides a level of support to PG&E Gen’s rating. The negative outlook on PG&E Corp. and Pacific Gas & Electric reflects the unanticipated financial challenges created by the increase in wholesale power prices in California at a time that electric rates charged to consumers are frozen. PG&E Gen, a wholly owned subsidiary of PG&E Corp, has ownership and management responsibilities in 30 power plants with combined generating capacity of 7,700 Mw in 10 states.

Public Service Co. of Colorado (PSCo), a unit of New Century Energies Inc., and Black Hills Corp. have signed a contract under which its Black Hills Energy Capital Inc. (BHEC) unit will convert gas to power for PSCo at the Arapahoe and Valmont power facilities in the Denver and Boulder area under a 10-year tolling agreement. Black Hills reported PSCo selected expansion of these two projects as part of its resource development plan approved earlier this year by Colorado’s Public Service Commission. The 120 Mw plants will be expanded to about 210 Mw. The 10-year tolling contracts will replace existing 7-year tolling contracts. Black Hills also said BHEC closed $60 million in nonrecourse project financing on the first phase of the Valmont and Arapahoe facilities.

Dominion Resources Inc. said it will create a new support group responsible for evaluating and integrating new energy technologies into the company’s plans for growth and customer service. Among the new technologies to be tracked will be distributed generation, fuel cells, automated meter reading, and new ways to improve environmental compliance. The group will also evaluate enhanced service capabilities made possible through new technologies, such as real-time pricing. John Shaw, senior vice-president, financial management, Dominion Energy, will oversee the new unit.

Algonquin Power Income Fund said it has completed an offering of 3 million trust units at a price of $9.15/unit for gross proceeds of $27.5 million. It said it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to repay debt, with the balance to acquire an economic interest in additional generating facilities and for working capital. The Fund recently completed the acquisition of three facilities: the Milton and Mines Falls facilities, New Hampshire, and the Great Falls facility, New Jersey. Including these acquisitions, the Fund has an equity interest in 41 hydroelectric generating facilities located in Ontario, Qu

International Fuel Cells, a unit of United Technologies Corp. and Shell Hydrogen US, a division of Shell Oil Products Co., have established a 50-50 joint venture company to develop, manufacture, and sell fuel processors for the emerging fuel cell and hydrogen fuel markets, the companies reported. Fuel processors are devices for converting fossil fuels, such as natural gas or gasoline, into hydrogen. Under the agreement, the joint venture will target such devices at fuel cells in automobiles, buses, and power generators, and at distributed hydrogen fueling applications such as retail or commercial filling stations, convenience stores, and residences.

Evergreen Resources Inc. has agreed purchase about 24,000 acres of producing natural gas properties from KLT Gas Inc., the gas development subsidiary of Kansas City Power & Light Co., for $70 million in cash, $100 million in mandatory redeemable preferred stock, and $6 million in Evergreen common stock, Kansas City Power & Light reported.. The earnings impact for Kansas City Power & Light will be about 60-80

Idacorp Inc. and its majority owned subsidiary, IdaTech LLC, Bend, Ore., reported they have retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as financial advisor to consider financial alternatives for their fuel cell business development. IdaTech is developing a commercial fuel cell product line for small-scale electric power generation for residential, commercial, and light industrial applications.

Dominion Transmission Inc., a unit of Dominion Resources Inc., said it will conduct an open season for up to 300,000 dekatherms/day (mDth/d) of firm transportation that will allow shippers to move Canadian and Midwest natural gas supplies across Dominion’s system for delivery to major northeastern US markets. The firm transportation will be available from four pipeline interconnects as well as Dominion’s North Point, and will go to interconnects with the Texas Eastern and Transco pipelines at Leidy in north central Pennsylvania. Dominion anticipates that 150 mDth/d of service could be available as early as November 2001, with the remaining 150 mDth/d available by November 2002. The open season began at 8 a.m. EDT, Sept. 20, 2000, and will conclude at 5 p.m. EDT, Oct. 27, 2000.

Caminus Corp., New York, said it and HoustonStreet Exchange Inc. have spearheaded the formation of the Energy Trading Standards Group, (ETSG) an open consortium with the goal of developing standards to automate the sale of wholesale energy and improve information sharing between energy trading companies. ETSG will develop open standards to communicate energy trade data based upon XML (extensible markup language) technology for business-to-business internet commerce, said Caminus. Other members include ABB Group unit ABB Energy Information Systems, Automated Power Exchange Inc., OpenLink Energy, RedMeteor.com Inc., Triple Point Technology Inc., GFInet Inc., and Sapient Inc.

Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., Newark, NJ, Chairman E. James Ferland reported its unregulated independent power subsidiary PSEG Power LLC will assume responsibility for four Midwest generation projects currently being developed by its PSEG Global affiliate. Ferland also said that PSEG Power will undertake development of all future US generation projects. PSEG Power’s existing portfolio includes almost 13,000 Mw of electric generating capacity in operation, under acquisition, or in development, primarily in the US Northeast.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Constellation Energy Source, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy Group Inc., to provide energy management services through the construction, ownership, and operation of a central plant that will provide heating, airconditioning, and hot water for the Steelers’ new stadium, Constellation reported. Construction for the 65,000-seat stadium is scheduled to be completed by August 2001. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Inc., and Nicor Inc. said the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had issued a positive preliminary determination decision regarding their proposed Horizon pipeline project. Horizon Pipeline Co. a joint venture of NGPL and Nicor, plans to construct 28.5 miles of 36-in. pipeline and 8,900 hp of compression facilities from near Joliet, Ill., into McHenry County, thus connecting the supply hub at Joliet with the northern part of the Nicor Gas distribution system and an existing NGPL pipeline. The pipeline will have capacity of 380 MMcfd. Construction on the $75 million pipeline should begin in the summer of 2001, with completion expected in the spring of 2002.

Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux unit Tractebel said it completed the previously reported purchase of Cabot LNG from Cabot Corp., in a deal worth $680 million. Cabot LNG is the only active LNG importer and distributor on the US east coast, supplying about 20% of the annual New England gas demand The deal also gives Tractebel a 20% share of the growing Atlantic liquefied natural gas market, as well as opening the way for developing synergy between Cabot LNG activities and Distrigas (of Belgium).

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