Dynegy acquires more power plants 3 months ahead of Brayton Point closure
SOMERSET — There are no “alternative facts” but there are opposite views on the impacts of Dynegy Energy Inc. adding $3.3 billion in power plant acquisitions to its growing portfolio, while shelving Brayton Point.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb. 2 accepted filings by Dynegy entities, including competitive compliance concerns FERC registered, says the three commissioners’ 13-page decision.
“We accept the compliance filing as it addresses the competitive concerns identified,” FERC concluded.
Explaining filing issues, FERC wrote in a footnote, “Applicants state that Dynegy’s Brayton Point Power Station, currently in operation, will retire on May 31, 2017, and thus was not included.”
By included, the commission referenced not affecting competition in one of three markets adding 9,000 megawatts of power to Houston-based Dynegy’s portfolio.
That market is the Southeast New England zone in the ISO New England capacity market, FERC said.
The SENE acquisition consists of four clustered, gas-fired plants in Bellingham, Milford and Blackstone, totaling 1,273 megawatts.
Purchases in the other two regions are within a dozen Atlantic and Midwest states, mostly plants in Ohio, and in Texas.
The purchase Dynegy announced Tuesday was taking over United States power plants of ENGIE – the French multi-national utility and largest independent electricity producer in the world, says its website.
“The addition of the ENGIE asset portfolio enhances the company’s strategy of driving efficiencies to become the low-cost industry leader. Dynegy now owns more than 31,000 megawatts of low-cost generating capacity – enough to power 25 million homes,” said its press release of the purchase.
Brayton Point, largely powered by coal on 300 acres on Mount Hope Bay in Somerset, and visible in Greater Fall River by its massive twin cooling towers, has a 1,500- megawatt capacity.
The energy producer, under prior owner Energy Capital Partners, announced in late 2013 its intention to close Brayton Point.
That position has remained constant, company and town officials continue to report.
One month ago on Jan. 10, the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 464, representing approximately 140 members working at Brayton Point, filed a motion with FERC protesting Dynegy’s compliance, filed by Somerset attorney Joseph Fingliss Jr.
They argued Dynegy should have to sell Brayton Point rather than mothball the power plant that’s been in operation for approximately 50 years; otherwise, their workers and ratepayers would suffer adverse consequences.
The UWUA said selling the 224 megawatts of capacity in the ISO-NE region, which FERC ultimately approved as satisfying competitive requirements, was inadequate.
“Specifically, we are concerned with a seller’s ability to exercise market power in the ISO-NE forward capacity auction when its resources enter or exit the market,” the union’s claim said.
FERC, rejecting that position, reported the “Utility Workers Union also argues that divestiture (selling) of the Brayton Point facility would be in Dynegy’s business interest due to the current economic liability associated with shut-down costs.”
FERC also reported the union’s contention that “multiple entities” would be willing to buy Brayton Point if it were for sale.
“We’ve felt the plant is profitable,” Local 464 President Bob Clark said in an interview, “and that they should try to sell it.”
“If applicants decide not to retire the Brayton Point facility, as Utility Workers Union suggests they might, applicants must inform the commission of this decision as it would be a material change in circumstances that departments from the representation upon which the commission relied,” FERC wrote.