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from Breakingviews:

Carlyle descends into a public-private inferno

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A Carlyle Group investment in Montana lays bare why so many roads are paved only with good intentions. The mayor of Missoula, a city of about 70,000 once known as Hellgate Trading Post, is trying to seize the local water utility from the buyout firm. The confrontation shows why joint efforts between public and private entities to improve infrastructure don’t proliferate.

John Engen, the mayor, on Wednesday sought court approval to acquire Mountain Water using the legal power known as eminent domain. This amounts to launching condemnation proceedings which are generally invoked when governments claim private property is needed for public use. In that context, the advance on Carlyle seems aggressive.

Missoula also tried to pry the water company from its last owner back in 1984. The Montana Supreme Court rejected that attempt. When Sam Wheeler decided to sell 27 years later, the bad blood lingered. Ultimately, Engen defied vocal opposition and threw his weight behind Carlyle in part because the deal included provisions for the city to bid for Mountain Water when the private equity firm was ready to exit.

from Breakingviews:

Privatisations a bright spot for gloomy Aussie M&A

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Privatisation is a bright spot in what looks to be an otherwise dreary year for Australian dealmakers. The country is set for a flurry of activity as cash-constrained local governments prepare to flog existing infrastructure assets in order to fund new projects and create jobs.

from Photographers' Blog:

Uncovering Nuclear Britain

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By Suzanne Plunkett

It sounds like the road trip from hell: a journey around all Britain’s functioning nuclear power stations.

After all, when the UK has so much to offer the traveller – from the bright lights of London to the ancient ruins of Stonehenge – why would anyone go out of their way to visit the far-flung places where the country has stowed its grim industrial reactor halls?

from Lipper Columns:

CTRL:ALT:INVEST: Don’t give up on solar energy yet!

Bill Lese, managing partner at VC firm Braemar Energy says there's still growth potential in the solar sector, and also likes early-stage investments in shale, coal and hydrocarbons.

Related links:

from Edward Hadas:

Static in the electricity market

Let me start with a confession. I do not fully understand what the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says Barclays did wrong in the U.S. electricity market, and I am not entirely sure about the claimed misdeeds of JPMorgan. But my inability may well have less to do with my inadequacies than with the fundamental futility of trying to use financial markets to set the price of electricity.

Very approximately, FERC says Barclays sold electricity in order to manipulate a price index in ways that created profit on related positions in a related financial market. The UK bank plans to contest the $453 million judgment. According to news reports, JPMorgan is about to agree to pay almost as much to settle charges that it unfairly solicited “make whole” payments, which compensate utilities for setting up but not actually running power plants on a particular day.

from India Insight:

Tata Power scouts for opportunities abroad

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Tata Power Company Ltd, part of the salt-to-steel Tata conglomerate, is India's largest integrated power producer. It aims to generate some 20,000 MW by 2020, up from more than 8500 MW now, and is scouting for opportunities abroad as well as building its thermal and renewables business at home.

from Photographers' Blog:

Inside the world’s biggest nuclear plant

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Kashiwazaki, Japan

By Kim Kyung-hoon

“Sleeping nuclear giants” - That was my first impression when I visited the world’s biggest nuclear power station, Kashiwazaki Kariwa power plant in Japan's Niigata Prefecture.

GALLERY: IMAGES FROM THE PLANT

With seven reactors which can produce a total of 8,212 megawatts of electricity, this power station is officially registered as the largest nuclear power station in the Guinness Book of Records. But the reality of the power station is much different than its reputation. Two of its reactors were shut down for a time after the 2007 earthquake and the remaining reactors were taken offline for safety checks and maintenance due to public concerns about the safety of nuclear energy in the quake-prone country after Fukushima’s nuclear disaster.

from Alison Frankel:

Can customers sue power companies for outages? Yes, but it’s hard to win

Scott Kreppein of Hagney, Quatela, Hargraves & Mari lives and works on Long Island, where about 90 percent of the customers of the Long Island Power Authority lost power in last week's storm. Kreppein still doesn't have electricity or heat at his house in Smithtown. Last week he got by on flashlights and a small gas-powered generator. Over the weekend, he and his wife fled to a hotel in Pennsylvania, and since they came back home, they've been living with relatives who have heat and light. Kreppein, in other words, has a personal interest in holding LIPA accountable for any failures in its restoration of power across Long Island.

But Kreppein also knows that the odds are very low of establishing LIPA's liability through a class action by disgruntled customers of the power company. In 2006, when he was working at Morelli Ratner, Kreppein represented several businesses in Queens, New York, that sued Consolidated Edison in state court for millions of dollars in damages that resulted from a week-long blackout in Astoria, Woodside and neighboring communities. According to Kreppein, there's nothing barring customers -- whether they're businesses or individual ratepayers -- from bringing such suits against power companies, even though utilities are state-regulated. To win, however, New York ratepayers have to show that their power company was not just slow or inefficient. Instead, Kreppein said, under a 1985 New York Court of Appeals ruling called Strauss v. Belle Realty, electric company customers must establish that the utility was grossly negligent -- that its conduct was way outside the bounds of reasonableness.

from Breakingviews:

Duke CEO sucker punch a value lesson for investors

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Leadership is supposed to have its privileges. So naming the chief executive was a prize electric firm Progress Energy demanded when selling itself to larger rival Duke Energy. In return they accepted a tiny premium. That Progress’ man Bill Johnson lasted only hours in his job is a reminder to investors never to sacrifice value for the prestige of getting the top job.

from Photographers' Blog:

“Bring the generator, and a chainsaw”

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By Gary Cameron

Finishing the last day of a nice Canadian fishing vacation, (in 70 degree temperatures with no humidity I might add), I got “the call” from my wife Joann last Saturday. She had just returned to our Silver Spring, Maryland home of 29 years.

“Bring the generator, and a chainsaw.” Oh, oh, sounded like vacation time was over.

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