U.S.-based Energy Capital Partners (ECP) has expanded in Canada with a C$835 million ($626-million) takeover announced Monday of fossil fuel-fired power plants in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

ECP affiliate Heartland Generation Ltd. is acquiring all/or stakes in 11 sites with natural gas- and coal-burning generating capacity of 2,100 MW in the purchase from Canadian Utilities Ltd. (CU), a subsidiary of Calgary-based Atco Ltd. 

ECP managing partner Tyler Reeder described the asset package as quality properties with strong operating records and good prospects for providing high levels of service.

The sale is expected to be completed by year’s end.

Separately, CU agreed to sell its 50% interest in the 260 MW Cory Cogeneration Station, near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to SaskPower International.

“We are focused on building a globally diversified portfolio of energy-related infrastructure assets,” CU CEO Siegfried Kiefer said. “Continually evaluating our business model and strategies ensures we are well-positioned to capture opportunities in markets at home and abroad.”

The sale agreements do not include Ashcore Technologies, the Oldman River Hydro Facility or international projects, which are being retained by CU.

Once the sales are completed, CU would have about 250 MW of electricity generation assets located in Canada, Mexico and Australia.

In Canada, as in the United States, renewable energy projects have side effects of strengthening demand for gas-fired power plants as reliable backups for weather-dependent solar and wind power.

Federal and provincial government-mandated closures of coal-burning generation also foster opportunities for lower-carbon gas.

The sale grew out of a strategy that Canadian Utilities and Atco adopted last year of concentrating on mainstay power transmission and distribution operations plus generation growth projects in Australia and Mexico.