CPUC could soon vote on Four Corners coal plant ownership

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) could vote later this month on whether to approve the sale of Southern California Edison’s stake in the Four Corners coal plant in New Mexico to Arizona Public Service (APS).

The proposed decision approving the sale is tentatively on CPUC’s March 22 meeting agenda, said a commission spokesperson on March 14. The Utility Reform Network (TURN), the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have all participated in the Four Corners case (U 338-E), according to documents filed with CPUC.

SCE is a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:EIX) and APS is a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital (NYSE:PNW), which is already a co-owner in the plant that is capable of generating more than 2,000 MW.

SCE wants to divest its interest in the coal plant at least partly because of California’s state policy to reduce reliance on electricity with a heavy carbon footprint.

An APS spokesperson said that the utility hopes to close the $294m purchase by late this year. The deal requires a number of government approvals, including the blessing of CPUC and the Arizona Corporation Commission.

If everything goes according to plan, APS would buy SCE’s 739-MW interest in units 4 and 5 and proceed to shut down 560-MW units 1, 2 and 3. Pinnacle West said in a recent earnings call presentation that a mix of debt and equity would be used to finance $300m worth of new environmental controls.

If the deal goes through, APS will then own 63% of the coal plant. The remaining interest in the plant is split between the existing minority owners PNM Resources (NYSE:PNM), the Salt River Project, El Paso Electric (NYSE:EE) and UniSource Energy (NYSE:UNS).

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.