End of an Era
By Ted Caddell
Exelon is selling its ownership interest in the Keystone and Conemaugh coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania, leaving it with just one coal-fired plant — a 25% interest in a waste coal generator.
Exelon once had extensive coal-fired holdings but has either sold or retired them over the years as it concentrated on new gas-fired generation and its massive nuclear fleet. Now, including Keystone and Conemaugh, just 4% of Exelon’s generation portfolio is from coal.
The company announced the sale on Wednesday in a section in its earnings release, saying it would bring in approximately $475 million — $418 million after taxes — which the company will use in its acquisition of Pepco Holdings Inc.
Exelon has a 31.32% interest (535.8 MW) in the Conemaugh plant, a coal and oil plant in New Florence, Pa., northeast of Pittsburgh. It owns 41.99% (720 MW) of Keystone, a coal and oil plant in Plumcreek Township, Armstrong County – the heart of Pennsylvania’s coal country.
The other companies with ownership interests in the Keystone and Conemaugh plants are Public Service Enterprise Group, NRG Energy and PPL.
Exelon spokesman Robert Judge said the company’s shares are being sold to ArcLight Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Boston. ArcLight has spent more than $11 billion on energy assets since 2001, including investments in wind, waste coal, coal, natural gas, oil and hydro plants, from Germany to the U.S.
Judge declined to say whether the sale signals the end to Exelon’s coal history. The sales were not mentioned during the third-quarter earnings call Thursday.
Judge said the sale is expected to close early next year. When that happens, the only coal-fired generation Exelon will own is a 25% interest in Colver, a 102-MW waste coal plant in Cambria County, Pa.
Exelon retired Unit 1 of its coal-fired Eddystone Generating Station near Philadelphia in 2011 and Unit 2 in 2012. The two units produced about 700 MW. Units 3 and 4 remain in operation and use oil or natural gas. It retired a 144-MW coal unit and a 201-MW dual-fuel unit at Cromby Generating Station near Phoenixville, Pa., in 2011.