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La. regulators approve NRG sale of 3,555-MW power plant portfolio to Cleco

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has signed off on the sale of NRG Energy Inc.'s 3,555-MW NRG South Central Generating LLC portfolio to Cleco Corporate Holdings LLC.

NRG said in a Jan. 16 news release that the state regulator's decision was the last approval needed to complete the transaction. NRG and Cleco Corporate Holdings subsidiary Cleco Cajun LLC plan to consummate the sale in February.

NRG will receive $1 billion, subject to adjustments, for the portfolio that includes the 225-MW Bayou Cove, 430-MW Big Cajun 1, 1,461-MW Big Cajun 2, 1,263-MW Cottonwood Energy and 176-MW Sterlington plants.

As part of a multiparty settlement agreement tied to the deal, Cleco agreed to reduce its use of coal-fired generation and add 200 MW of renewable energy. Specifically, the company will stop burning coal at the 580-MW Big Cajun 2 unit 1 by 2025 and reduce the operation of its 642-MW Dolet Hills coal plant to only run in the summer months, the Sierra Club said in a Jan. 16 news release.

The company also committed to holding ratepayers harmless for the costs of cleaning up coal ash at the Big Cajun II site. The largest supplier of the plant's coal in 2018 was Peter Kiewit Son's Inc.'s Buckskin mine in Campbell County, Wyo., according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The Dolet Hills plant runs on lignite coal that comes from a mine in De Soto County, La., owned by American Electric Power Co. Inc. AEP subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Co. is also a part-owner of the power plant.

NRG announced the Cleco transaction in February 2018, along with deals to sell its stake in NRG Yield Inc., which then changed its name to Clearway Energy Inc., and to sell its renewable energy development business to Global Infrastructure Partners.

FERC approved the Cleco sale in December 2018. (FERC docket EC18-63)