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Electric deal is sign of the times; Energy East takeover part of industry consolidation

You can almost hear the gnashing of teeth. A Spanish company, Iberdrola, is about to acquire Energy East, the parent of New York State Electric & Gas Corp. The company has received needed approvals from the federal agencies, and it is close to receiving the endorsement of four of the five state regulatory agencies. A decision from New York regulators is still some way off. Critics of the deal express anxiety that a foreign company may eventually control electric distribution to 3 million customers in the Northeast. They wonder if it's wise to have such critical infrastructure out of the hands of a domestic owner. But the reality is that the fragmented electric industry will undergo a vast restructuring over the next decade or two.

You can almost hear the gnashing of teeth. A Spanish company, Iberdrola, is about to acquire Energy East, the parent of New York State Electric & Gas Corp. The company has received needed approvals from the federal agencies, and it is close to receiving the endorsement of four of the five state regulatory agencies. A decision from New York regulators is still some way off.

Critics of the deal express anxiety that a foreign company may eventually control electric distribution to 3 million customers in the Northeast. They wonder if it's wise to have such critical infrastructure out of the hands of a domestic owner.

But the reality is that the fragmented electric industry will undergo a vast restructuring over the next decade or two. The multitude of electric companies serving customers across the United States likely will be whittled down to a dozen or so as the industry attempts to achieve the economies of scale that can be seen through consolidation.

Like it or not, Energy East has been in play since British-based National Grid acquired Niagara Mohawk several years ago. Following the NiMo takeover, it was only a matter of time that either a domestic or foreign owner would acquire... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

You can almost hear the gnashing of teeth. A Spanish company, Iberdrola, is about to acquire Energy East, the parent of New York State Electric & Gas Corp. The company has received needed approvals from the federal agencies, and it is close to receiving the endorsement of four of the five state regulatory agencies. A decision from New York regulators is still some way off.

Critics of the deal express anxiety that a foreign company may eventually control electric distribution to 3 million customers in the Northeast. They wonder if it's wise to have such critical infrastructure out of the hands of a domestic owner.

But the reality is that the fragmented electric industry will undergo a vast restructuring over the next decade or two. The multitude of electric companies serving customers across the United States likely will be whittled down to a dozen or so as the industry attempts to achieve the economies of scale that can be seen through consolidation.

Like it or not, Energy East has been in play since British-based National Grid acquired Niagara Mohawk several years ago. Following the NiMo takeover, it was only a matter of time that either a domestic or foreign owner would acquire the Portland, Maine-based utility. It would be foolhardy to think that in this "World is Flat" environment anyone could stop a foreign owner from acquiring a U.S.-based utility. And with the U.S. dollar trading at a deep discount to the Euro, these American utilities can be acquired by the Europeans at the equivalent of bargain-basement prices.

Iberdrola's representatives acknowledge that Energy East will serve as a launching pad for what is expected to be an aggressive push into the U.S. market. The company is already one of America's largest generators of wind energy. That enterprise throws off massive tax credits that the company will be able to use to pay the $4.5 billion price tag for Energy East. Combine those tax credits with the $400 million in cash Energy East throws off each year, and the deal makes a load of sense for Iberdrola.

The Bilboa-based company says the acquisition of Energy East will be transparent to customers. Representatives say there will be no employee cutbacks. Documents filed with regulatory agencies said company will maintain the work force and benefits at current levels for at least 18 months. Iberdrola is committed to investing in alterative generation, and it comes into the game with vast know-how in the field.

Despite the fears expressed by some, there's little reason to block Iberdrola from taking Energy East under its wing. You may not like the acquisition of U.S. assets by foreigners, but it's the reality of the time. And there may be some benefits to the community by serving as Iberdrola's beachhead in the United States.


Source: http://www.pressconnects.co...

JAN 13 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/12774-electric-deal-is-sign-of-the-times-energy-east-takeover-part-of-industry-consolidation
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