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Eversource sells 1,200-MW portfolio to joint venture, private equity firm

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Eversource sells 1,200-MW portfolio to joint venture, private equity firm

Eversource Energy on Oct. 12 announced that it has agreed to sell its 1,200-MW portfolio of hydroelectric and fossil-fueled power plants, primarily located in New Hampshire, to a joint venture and private equity firm in separate transactions for about $258 million. The sale is part of a mandate that completes electric deregulation in New Hampshire.

Eversource said in a news release that it reached an agreement to sell its 1,130.1-MW portfolio of fossil assets to Granite Shore Power LLC, a 50/50 joint venture formed between Atlas Holdings and Castleton Commodities International, for $175 million. The assets included in this sale are the Merrimack coal/oil plant, dual-fueled Newington plant, the coal and biomass-fired Schiller Coal plant, the oil-fired Schiller CT plant, the Lost Nation oil plant and the White Lake jet-fueled facility.

The company's nine hydroelectric facilities, with 68.2 MW of total nameplate capacity, will be acquired by private equity firm Hull Street Energy LLC and its affiliates for $83 million, according to the news release. These assets are the Amoskeag, Ayers Island, Canaan, Eastman Falls, Garvins Falls, Gorham, Hooksett, Jackman and Smith hydro plants.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission in July 2016 authorized the sale of generation facilities owned by Eversource subsidiary Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, or PSNH, as part of a settlement agreement reached in June 2015 by the utility and other parties, including PUC staff, the state Office of Energy and Planning and the state Consumer Advocate. PSNH, which had already sold its nuclear assets, was required by electric restructuring statutes to get commission approval before selling its remaining assets.

The PUC in November 2016 signed off on a two-round auction design and process recommended by auction adviser J.P. Morgan Securities LLC. J.P. Morgan launched the sale process in late February.

"Our generation plants have proven valuable to New Hampshire customers for many years, especially during times of extreme cold or heat when additional sources of power have been needed to help meet demand. Now, we will join other utilities across New England in obtaining energy for our customers from the competitive regional wholesale energy market," Eversource NH President Bill Quinlan said in the news release.

The new owners will be required to continue operating the plants for at least 18 months after the sale.

Other terms of the settlement reached in 2015 include a tax stabilization plan for affected communities and a $5 million clean energy fund created by Eversource. "Consistent with the 2015 settlement agreement, customers will also benefit from Eversource's agreement to forego recovery of $25 million related to the Merrimack Station emission reduction 'scrubber,' and from the financing of stranded costs remaining after the sales through the use of securitization bonds," the news release states.

The asset sales must be reviewed and approved by the New Hampshire PUC. Eversource expects the transactions to close by late December or early 2018 following regulatory and other necessary approvals.