Calpine sells St. Gabriel power plant

Calpine Corp. has agreed to sell six power plants, including a 501-megawatt plant in St. Gabriel, to LS Power for $1.57 billion in cash.

The St. Gabriel plant, known as the Carville Energy Center, sells all of its power to Entergy.

Calpine spokesman Brett Kerr said he does not have exact employment figures for the St. Gabriel plant, but Calpine’s plants typically employ 25 to 30 people.

LS Power is an employee-owned, independent power company with offices in New York, New Jersey, Missouri and California. The company develops, owns, operates and invests in power plants and electric transmission infrastructure nationwide. The company has developed or bought 28,000 megawatts of power since its founding in 1990. The St. Gabriel plant is LS Power’s first in Louisiana.

The deal announced Friday includes 3,500 megawatts of generating capacity through plants in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. One megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes, meaning the six plants acquired can power 3.5 million homes.

Calpine Chief Executive Officer Jack Fusco said the deal helps achieve a top priority: selling its Southeast power plants.

The potential uses of the cash include paying down debt, future acquisitions, development opportunities or repurchasing stock, Fusco said.

Calpine expects to offset the projected taxable gains from the sale with existing federal and state operating losses.

Most of Calpine’s remaining assets lie in California and other parts of the western United States; Texas; and the eastern part of the country.

However, Calpine still owns four natural gas-fired power plants in Arkansas, Alabama and Florida. The company still plans to sell those plants.

Calpine also will retain a development project in Bogalusa called the Washington Parish Energy Center, Kerr said. The 500-megawatt plant will be built once Calpine has a contract for its electricity production.

Calpine developed the St. Gabriel plant and has operated it since 2003. The facility was built during a heavy period of development, as power companies anticipated retiring some aging utility plants.