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Industry Briefs

Industry Briefs

The performance of Dynegy's gas liquids business during the second quarter indicates the market is finally making a turn-around. Operating income from the liquids division grew 41% to $54.9 million, Dynegy reported. Its power marketing and generation division, including operating margin and equity earnings from joint venture power projects, also showed continued improvement with 28% growth in operating income to $56.8 million. But gas marketing suffered a 31% decline in operating income to $21.8 million primarily because of "weak market conditions" in Europe, the company said. Dynegy posted a 19% increase in net income during the second quarter to $28 million compared with $23.4 million in 2Q98. It sold a total of 9.2 Bcf/d of gas (6.1 Bcf/d domestically), up from 8.2 Bcf/d in 2Q98, and sold 17.4 million MWh of power, down 40% from the 28.9 million MWh sold in 2Q98. Dynegy also showed a high retail marketing loss of $2.4 million compared with $600,000 in 2Q98 because of the expansion of its SouthStar retail marketing alliance with AGL Resources and Piedmont Natural Gas in Georgia. SouthStar markets gas under the name Georgia Natural Gas and has built one of the largest market shares in Georgia. Dynegy attributed the mounting losses to increased advertising in preparation for the Oct. 1 deadline for retail customers to switch to buying gas from marketers.

Columbia Energy yesterday gained the support of Ohio state Rep. David Goodman (R-Bexley) in its battle against the $5.7 billion hostile takeover bid of Merrillville, IN-based NiSource. NiSource currently is offering Columbia shareholders $68/share. It's tender offer is scheduled to close Aug. 6. Goodman, warned regulators and legislators a takeover by NiSource could lead to "the closing of the Columbus headquarters for Columbia Gas of Ohio, hundreds of lost jobs in Columbus and other Ohio cities, higher prices for Ohio consumers, and diminished ability of Columbia Gas to provide a reliable source of natural gas for millions of Ohioans." Goodman also noted that there have been concerns on Wall Street over the $6 billion loan NiSource would require to complete the purchase. "I'm worried that the deal could weaken the company's ability to serve Ohio's energy needs - and that Ohio consumers and Ohio jobs could be losers in the long run," he said. Goodman urged the Public Utility Commission of Ohio, the Ohio Consumers Counsel, the Ohio Attorney General's office, the Ohio General Assembly and other state agencies to "carefully and thoroughly investigate the proposed merger to ensure that Ohio consumers are not harmed, Ohio jobs are not threatened and Ohio laws are not violated," by the proposed hostile purchase.

ENERGYguide.com has expanded its national retail energy clearinghouse to include gas offers, allowing consumers to compare and select energy providers. Sponsors claim the one-stop consumer information and e-commerce site for energy and energy-related products, is the only site to offer online shopping for both electricity and gas on a national basis. By entering their ZIP code and details about energy usage, consumers in deregulated states can receive a detailed list of all gas and/or electric offers available in their area from registered suppliers. The consumer's energy information allows ENERGYguide.com to perform a personalized energy analysis and locate the best offers. ENERGYguide.com offers information on suppliers and offers in Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. New Jersey and Pennsylvania offers will appear as soon as information is available. Electricity offers are available in all states that have rolled out deregulation, including California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.

Duke Energy North America (DENA), the developer of North American power projects for Duke Energy, got a stronger foothold in Southwest power generation by buying a 50% stake in a gas-fired power plant being developed by PP&L Global Inc. in Kingman, AZ. The plant will have nominal baseload capacity of 500 MW and peak capacity of 600 MW and will serve southwestern markets. Pending final approvals, construction will begin in September for commercial operations in July 2001.

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