NRG Acquires Duke's Audrain Power Plant

NRG Energy reported late last week that it has entered into an agreement with Duke Energy North America LLC (DENA) to acquire a natural gas-fired 720 MW winter-rated/640 MW summer-rated power facility that is currently under construction in Audrain County, MO.

Construction of the Audrain Generating Station began in May 2000. Located on a Greenfield site about 90 miles northwest of St. Louis, the project - which consists of eight turbines - is expected to begin commercial operation by June 2001.

"This acquisition complements NRG's strategy of developing a significant portfolio of generation assets located near major metropolitan areas experiencing substantial load growth," said David H. Peterson, NRG's CEO. "It also serves to strengthen our presence in the North Central region of the United States and upon commercial operation will be immediately earnings accretive."

Although terms of the deal were not discussed, NRG said it expects the project to contribute three to five cents to earnings on an annual basis and to be a contributor to the company's 25% earnings growth objective. Both companies said they expect the deal to close by the end of the first quarter, pending necessary regulatory approvals.

"The sale of the Audrain facility is consistent with Duke Energy's portfolio management approach to business," said Jim Donnell, DENA's CEO. "Our ability to actively manage our portfolio of assets and trading positions, enhances the efficiency in which we recycle capital across Duke Energy to support our ongoing development and business endeavors. We're on target to deliver upward of 50 generation facilities, totaling more than 26,000 megawatts by summer 2004, and remain focused on our commercial objective of building regional energy businesses in the high-demand regions of North America."

The plant is one of six merchant facilities DENA will bring on line by this summer. The other facilities are located in Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma and two in Mississippi that together total approximately 3,400 megawatts.

"This facility has excellent access to high voltage transmission systems and major gas pipelines in the Chicago-St. Louis-New Orleans corridor which will give us greater flexibility in trading around our current assets and those in development," said Craig Mataczynski, CEO of NRG North America. "The project is dual-fuel capable, meaning it may use both natural gas and oil, which gives us the ability to switch fuels during times of volatile fuel prices."

The Audrain facility was designed and is being built by Duke/Fluor Daniel (D/FD).

Alex Steis

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