After completing its merger with The Coastal Corp., El PasoEnergy Corp. announced that it has completed restructuring andterminated 1,650 employees from the combined company’s approximate16,500 employee work force. Of the employees let go, 585 willremain with the company until their current assignment iscompleted, but none later than June 30. El Paso also announced thatadditional employees left voluntarily, and 1,635 workers opted forthe early retirement package. Employees that were not retained areeligible for full severance benefits, including a cash paymentbased on term of service. El Paso said that staff reductions tookplace everywhere the company does business. High employeeconcentration areas such as Colorado Springs, Detroit, El Paso andHouston were hardest hit by the cutbacks. Reductions ocurred in allbusiness units at all levels of the company, El Paso said.

Dynegy completed its previously announced acquisition of 1,700 MWof power generation located in the town of Newburgh, NY. Included inthe $903 million purchase was the 500 MW Danskammer plant and the1,200 MW Roseton facility. Late last year, the New York State PublicService Commission (PSC) approved a joint request from Central HudsonGas and Electric Corp., Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc.,Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. and Dynegy Power Corp. to transferownership of the facilities (see Daily GPI,Dec.14). Dynegy said it will be able to deliver power towholesale customers in the New York, PJM and NEPOOL markets

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources CommitteeStaff Director Andrew D. Lundquist has been appointed by PresidentBush to the position of director of the National Energy PolicyDevelopment Group. Lundquist will work directly with Vice PresidentDick Cheney, who will chair the energy task force. Lundquist’s soonto be vacated position of staff director will be filled by currentDeputy Staff Director Brian Malnak.

In a move that will create the largest U.S. retail propanemarketer, UGI Corp.’s AmeriGas Propane Inc. announced it would buythe retail propane distribution business of Columbia Energy Groupfor $208 million. Columbia is owned by NiSource Co. The deal wasfinanced with $163 million of debt and $53 million in AmeriGasshares issued to Columbia. NiSource’s Columbia businesses areranked as the fifth largest U.S. retail propane marketer, sellingmore than 307 million gallons of fuel a year in 29 states. AmeriGassaid the deal would add to earnings in the first fiscal yearfollowing closing.

The problem isn’t just a shortage of power generation,”California’s severely stressed gas infrastructure has been anoverlooked factor in the current and likely future crisis,”according to Stephen L. Thumb, director of the natural gas practiceof Energy Venture Analysis of Arlington, VA. A new report by thegroup pinpoints high gas prices and infrastructure problems withboth natural gas and power transmission lines. “Pipeline explosionsand outages only served to make a bad situation even worsethroughout the years. Several natural gas pipeline infrastructureprojects are on the drawing board, but will not be built in time toalleviate the problem until at least 2002. ” Copies of the report,The California Energy Crisis, may be purchased by contacting A.Michael Schaal at 703-276-8900.

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