Dominion Sells 2 Gas-Fired Plants; Blue Racer Midstream For Sale

Dominion Energy has found a buyer for two of its natural gas-fired electric generating plants, one located in Pennsylvania, the other in Rhode Island. In July MDN told you that Dominion was shopping the two plants, hoping to raise $1+ billion (see Dominion Looking to Sell Gas-Fired Power Plants in PA, RI). One plant, the Fairless Power Station, is located in Bucks County, PA near Philadelphia. The other, Manchester Street Power Station, is located in the People’s Republic of Rhode Island. So why would Dominion, a company that really digs natgas, want to dump two of its natgas power generating plants situated in large, urban areas? In a word, regulation, or rather lack of it. Both of the plants Dominion wants to dump are “merchant plants”–meaning they sell electricity on the open market, at market rates. Regulated plants, on the other hand, have their prices determined by quasi-governmental agencies. Selling electric that’s regulated means the potential upside is limited, but it also means you are guaranteed a certain price and can count on receiving that price year in and year out. In the lingo of high finance, being regulated “derisks” a company–makes revenue streams predictable, which investors like. So Dominion is on a mission to (a) pay down debt by selling assets like these two merchant power plants, and (b) provide more revenue certainty for investors. And it looks like they achieved their goal, selling the two plants for $1.23 billion to Starwood Energy. In the same Dominion announcement about the Starwood sale, the company said they will continue to shop their 50% ownership stake in Blue Racer Midstream, which is the first we’ve heard that Dominion is looking to unload their share. Dominion says there is “strong interest” in buying it…

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