Wisconsin Energy to acquire Integrys in a transaction valued at $9.1 billion; Dominion to acquire the CID Solar Project from EDF Renewable Energy; Landis+Gyr to acquire GRIDiant Corp.; PPL Corporation and Riverstone Holdings LLC to merge merchant power generation businesses into a new company Talen Energy Corporation; plus debt offerings totaling $1.5 billion.
Carlyle Group acquires Red Oak plant from Energy Capital Partners; Tenaska acquires U.S. Power Generating Co.; Southern California Edison floats $1.6 billion in bonds in three tranches; Energy Trading Partners issues $1.5 billion in bonds; plus debt issues by ONEOK, Spectra Energy, TVA, MidAmerican, PECO, and Duke, totaling $9.2 billion.
Constellation and EdF transfer nuclear licenses to Exelon for $400 million; NRG closes $244 million acquisition of Gregory cogen plant in Texas; Vivint Solar secures $200 million for rooftop solar leases; Virginia Power floats $585 million in bonds; Southern Company issues $700 million; plus equity deals totaling $844 million and debt issues totaling $3.635 billion.
Entergy acquires Kgen gas-fired plants in Arkansas and Mississippi; TransCanada buys BP share of Alberta gas storage facility; PSE acquires Tenaska plant; AEP issues $850 million in debt; Duke units float $650 million in bonds; plus debt issues by NextEra, Southern Company, Entergy, and others totaling nearly $3.2 billion.
Exelon sells plants in Maryland and Cali; Mitsui buys into Viridity; Duke issues $1.2B; plus deals at TVA, Xcel, PG&E, etc. totaling $4.9B.
(July 2011) Williams Partners L.P. expands Transco transmission lines; Google to provide fiber optic Internet service for Kansas City, Mo.; Constellation Energy picks Lynxspring Inc.; plus contracts and developments involving Servidyne, EnerNOC, Siemens Energy and others.
Utility deals resume after 18 months of austerity.
Utilities are taking advantage of a sweet spot in the capital markets, pre-funding and refinancing at record low rates. But cheap money won’t resolve overhanging uncertainties preventing cap-ex projects and M&A deals. Greater certainty in America’s economic and policy outlook will clear a path for strategic change.
Customer-specific demand-response strategies become more sophisticated.
Demand-response technologies are quickly becoming more sophisticated, and markets are treating demand as a resource. But realizing the true potential of DR requires utilities to apply today’s technology solutions and program structures—and to base their strategies on actual customer behavior and preferences—rather than yesterday’s outdated assumptions about centralized load control.
Volatile markets are causing delays, but most deals are moving forward.
Although problems in the power business grabbed the headlines early this decade, the industry now seems fundamentally strong. In contrast to their ratings of banks, rating agencies appear to have recently upgraded more of the electric sector than they have downgraded. It remains a strong investment grade, usually BB or BBB. For an index of 68 electric utilities, the debt-to-equity ratio averaged only 55:45 and return on equity exceeded over 13 percent through January.
Despite a favorable outlook for utility finance, cost pressures are straining rate structures.
Utilities are bringing monumental capital-expenditure plans before rate regulators just as they’re dealing with a barrage of rising costs—for fuel and other commodities, as well as labor, pension-fund obligations, and interest payments. Ten energy-finance luminaries elaborate on the industry’s fortunes.