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Utility Sale Fuels Concern For Lakes



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Utility Sale Fuels

Concern For Lakes

By Kendra Bobowick

The sale of Northeast Utilities’ wholly owned subsidiary Northeast Generation Services Company (NGS) to newcomer Energy Capital Partners (ECP) of New Jersey and San Diego has lake residents worried. The purchase impacts the lakes along the Housatonic River Including Zoar and Lillinonah, and affiliated power plants atop the Shepaug and Stevenson Dams.

Lake Lillinonah Authority Chairman Bryan Piepho said, “Sure there are uncertainties and the state feels the same. We don’t know who the operators are going to be.” Mr Piepho is among many lake proponents from residents all the way up to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who are wary of what will become of lake management. Already concerns surround lake water levels and potential fees for certain property owners along the shoreline.

The newcomers are not saying much with the sale still pending.

Energy Capital Partners spokesperson Rahul Advani explained, “There is a lot I can’t say. I don’t have the ability to talk about it…”

He also sympathizes with the desire to better understand ECP’s stance and policies, but he insists he is unable to comment.

The time prior to the final sale of Northeast Utilities power generation businesses to buyer Energy Capital Partners, ECP, creates a sensitive transaction period for ECP. Because ownership has not yet changed hands, potential liabilities exist for stakeholders involved, which explains why ECP spokespeople are reluctant to answer certain questions.

Questions arose regarding Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing, which will transfer from NGS to ECP.

Mr Advani said only, “Yes, we’ve agreed to accept the license. Obviously we’ve made the agreement and that’s part of the transaction.”

ECP has reawakened opposition that surfaced in past weeks as the current power company owner began to address terms of its federal license that would impact the public. The license calls for a Shoreline Management Plan that proposes fees for structures such as gazebos and docks. Residents have also spoken against the potential for fluctuation in lake water levels.

Although accepting the lease’s terms, intents for operation, lake levels, and fees are not issues Mr Advani was able to address. Fee structures are detailed in a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), which was recently submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval. (Visit essexpartnership.com for additional details.)


Mr Piepho sees the time before final sales as a window of opportunity. He aims to amend portions of the licensing before the power company sale is complete, he has explained.

His struggle began several weeks ago as NGS opened public forums to discuss shoreline management. Fees affecting Newtown residents include the suggested registration and charges for structures along the shores of Lake Lillinonah, which has sent a wave of concerned residents to Hartford for help.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, among other officials, has joined residents in their opposition. (See separate story.)

Mr Advani directed those with questions to the ECP website at ecpartners.com.

The website informs visitors that “Energy Capital Partners is a private equity firm comprised of 22 individuals with offices in Short Hills, N.J., and San Diego, Calif., dedicated to investing in North America’s energy infrastructure. Through our fund (Energy Capital Partners I), we invest in assets and businesses primarily in the following sectors; power generation, including renewable energy facilities, electric transmission, gas storage, pipelines, and other related midstream gas assets, fuel handling, and logistics infrastructure.

“Collectively, our team has over 125 years of energy industry experience and an unparalleled breadth and depth of industry relationships. Members of the senior management team have played leading roles as principals in more than $9 billion in energy asset purchases across 116 separate energy assets. These include investments in and management of Goldman Sachs Power, Orion Power, Constellation Energy Commodities Group, and the Path 15 Transmission Line.”

Mr Advani spoke positively about current power plant personnel. “In evaluating this business, we were particularly impressed with the personnel and the quality of the employee base was a big plus in our decision to move forward with the transaction.”

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