FirstEnergy could take top spot in retail customer count with Allegheny deal

By Jesse Gilbert
SNL Energy

The announced merger between FirstEnergy Corp. and Allegheny Energy Inc has dominated the energy headlines over the past couple of days. This comes as no surprise when one looks at the potential implications this deal could have on the merged company’s standing in the energy world.

If the deal goes through as is, with no major divestures required, the newly merged company could take the top spot as the nation’s largest utility by retail customer count.

Based on 2008 FERC Form 1 data, Exelon Corp. had the highest number of retail customers at 5,374,112, with FirstEnergy taking the fifth spot with 4,494,867 customers.

With the 1,574,808 customers served by Allegheny Energy in 2008, the combined company would have more than 6 million customers, putting it firmly in first place among U.S. utility holding companies by customer count.

Allegheny has indicated that it plans to continue its divesture of its utility subsidiary Potomac Edison Co.’s operations. Potomac Edison Co., which does business as Allegheny Power, has about 480,000 customers, according to 2008 FERC Form 1 data.

Including this divesture, the combined company would still have the largest retail customer base of any utility holding company in the U.S.

At the end of 2008 Southern Co. had the highest retail sales at $14.14 billion, according to the data. FirstEnergy was close behind in the fourth spot at $10.41 billion in sales.

Allegheny Energy, meanwhile, recorded $2.68 billion in sales. A combined company could potentially rival Southern for the highest retail sales among U.S. publicly traded utility companies.

Led by a strong coal and nuclear fleet, FirstEnergy is positioned in the 13th spot among publicly traded U.S. utility holding companies by total installed capacity, with 13,642 MW. Allegheny Energy also has a sizable generation fleet, with 9,742 MW installed, made up largely of coal-fired generators.

If no divestures were undertaken, as it stands, a combined company would have a total installed capacity of more than 23,000 MW. This would make it the eighth-largest publicly traded U.S. utility holding company by capacity, just behind Exelon.

FirstEnergy indicated that it will still consider the divesture of power plants it had previously planned to divest. In its merger presentation, FirstEnergy indicated an expected combined capacity of 21 GW, which would still place it among the top 10 utilities by installed capacity.

Editor’s Note: This story is republished by permission of SNL Energy. Click here to view the original article.


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