FERC approves sale of Somerset's Brayton Point power plant
Dave Souza|Herald News
The sale of the Brayton Point Power Station is on the verge of completion, says a spokesman for Dominion, which announced the sale to Energy Capital Partners in March.
Dominion officials confirmed the sale of Brayton Point is on the verge of completion.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday issued its approval on conditions of the sale from Dominion to Energy Capital Partners, an energy infrastructure firm with main offices in Short Hills, N.J., and San Diego, according to reports by the owners and FERC.
“I can confirm that FERC has approved the sale,” Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said.
“We will close upon completion of financial transaction activities expected to be in the next several weeks,” Genest said.
Selectmen Chairman Donald Setters he was told the sale could be finalized in a week or so.
A 20-page report by FERC Deputy Secretary Nathaniel J. Davis Sr. states that the sales authorization was granted over protests by the Conservation Law Foundation, a New England environmental protection group, addressed in the FERC report.
“We agree with applicants (Dominion ownership) that Conservation Law’s assertions concerning future operations of the Brayton Point facility are speculative and go beyond the scope of these proceedings,” Davis concluded.
Among affects to southeastern Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Conservation Law Foundation said as a result of this transaction, they believed constraints might arise in the ISO New England market where Brayton Point wholesales electricity.
In relation to this sale, which has been delayed some months, the foundation also argued, FERC said, “that across the nation aging, outdated coal- and oil-fired electric generating facilities have been retiring apace, and the trend is no different within the ISO-NE area.”
FERC rejected those contentions in its lengthy authorization report.
Dominion, which owns more than 40 power plants, mostly in Virginia, announced the sale of Brayton Point Power Station to ECP in mid-March.
Local officials said they’ve been told protests to FERC by the nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation have delayed the sale.
Brayton Point, the largest facility, was part of a $650 million sale, which included $472 million in cash and after-sale tax benefits, with two other Dominion power plants in Illinois.
The company plans to invest the proceeds in its regulated businesses and to reduce debt.
One of the Illinois power plants is 1,158 megawatts coal-fired, while the Elwood Power Station near Chicago generates 1,424 megawatts from natural gas, Genest said. Dominion owns half the interest in that plant.
The 1,530-megawatt Somerset plant supplies three-fourths of its energy from coal, with one 435-megawatt unit run by natural gas or oil, but mostly using oil, Genest said.
Since purchasing the plant on Jan. 3, 2005, Dominion said it has invested $1.1 billion in environmental improvements, about half of that amount for the huge, dual cooling towers that officials say have reduced thermal impacts into Mount Hope Bay by 90 percent.