Although its higher profile energy scouting work these days involves potential wind generation sites, PPM Energy, the Portland, OR-based merchant energy operator in the United States for UK-based ScottishPower, is actively looking to buy or develop natural gas storage facilities. And the company is not confining its interest to the Pacific Northwest, according to company officials.

PPM has established a business development group working out of Houston that is “very aggressive,” seeking some greenfield storage project developments, said Jean Wilson, PPM’s vice president for business development. Wilson suggested that the industry should “pay attention” to the increasingly aggressive wind and gas development moves by PPM, noting that it has over the past 12 months acquired a 40% interest in Alberta Hub storage in Canada and Aquila’s former Texas storage, plus four development opportunities there.

PPM officials earlier in the month during an interview on its wind energy push, noted that there may be some additional announcements on natural gas storage buys before the end of 2003 or early next year.

“We’re not just confined to the Northwest (home of its affiliated company, PacifiCorp); we have facilities in Texas and Alberta, Canada; and we’re looking at the Rockies, too,” Wilson said. “The two businesses — wind and gas storage — make a lot of sense together since they are both location-oriented, and they are both kind of niche businesses.

“The number of players in gas storage is relatively small, and there are not a lot of players who know the business. Wind has some of these same characteristics.”

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