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Columbia Finishes Electric Subsidiary Sale

Columbia Finishes Electric Subsidiary Sale

After agreeing to unload its electric subsidiary last week to Orion Power Holdings for about $200 million plus the assumption of debt, Columbia Energy Group announced that it has found a buyer for its electric subsidiary's interests in four power generation Qualifying Facilities (QF). The interests, which were excluded from the Orion deal, will be sold to a partnership between Morristown, NJ,-based Delta Power Co. and John Hancock Life Insurance for an undisclosed amount (see NGI, Oct. 9).

Columbia Electric's interest in the following operating facilities were included in the sale:

A 50% interest in the Gregory Power project, a 550 MW natural gas-fired plant which provides steam and electricity to Alcoa's Sherwin alumina facility and sells excess electricity into the ERCOT transmission region. The plant is located in Corpus Christi, TX.

A 50% interest in a 117 MW gas-fired facility near Pedricktown, NJ. This plant sells most of its load for industrial use, but markets the excess on the PJM (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland) transmission grid.

A 50% ownership in a gas-fired 47 MW plant near Vineland, NJ. The facility provides electricity to the City of Vineland Electric Utility.

And a 10% interest in a cogeneration facility in Rumford, ME

Columbia withheld these holdings from the Orion deal, but still needed to sell them because of its pending merger. Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policy's Act of 1978 (PURPA), no more than 50% of an equity interest in a QF can be held by an electric utility, or an electric utility holding company. Columbia currently is not an electric utility holding company under PURPA's test, but as a result of its merger with NiSource, its interests in QFs would be held indirectly by an electric utility holding company.

Alex Steis

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