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NextEra Buys Gulf Power

NextEra Energy said Monday it is buying Gulf Power from Southern Company, along with Florida City Gas and its stake in two natural gas-fueled power plants.

The $6.475 million deal, which includes NextEra taking on about $1.4 billion in Gulf Power’s debt, adds more Florida generating capacity to NextEra, which already is one of the largest regulated utilities in the country as the parent company of Florida Power & Light, and the country’s largest solar and wind power generator.

NextEra said it will raise its adjusted per share earnings expectations for 2020 and 2021 earnings by 15 cents and 20 cents respectively.

The purchase gives NextEra Gulf Power’s 450,000 electric customers in eight counties in Florida’s Panhandle. The acquisition of Florida City Gas adds about 110,000 residential and commercial natural gas customers in the Miami area, as well as farther north along the state’s Atlantic coast. NextEra also gets ownership of a natural gas-fueled plant near Cocoa, Florida and part ownership of a natural gas plant near Orlando.

Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra also already owns NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from wind and solar power. It also has nuclear power plants in Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

“We are pleased to have reached definitive agreements with Southern Company to acquire Gulf Power and Florida City Gas, along with Southern Company’s Oleander and Stanton facilities,” said Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy. “These transactions will provide meaningful benefits for the state of Florida, and Gulf Power and Florida City Gas customers, as well as NextEra Energy shareholders.

“Importantly, these transactions are consistent with our long-standing, disciplined approach of maintaining the strength of our balance sheet and credit ratings, both of which are among the strongest in the industry,” Robo said in a release. “Following the financing of the transactions and as a result of expanding our regulated operations, we expect to continue to maintain $5 billion to $7 billion of excess balance sheet capacity with which to further support our long-term growth. We are raising our 2020 and 2021 adjusted earnings per share expectations by $0.15 and $0.20, respectively, upon closing and will be disappointed if we are not able to deliver financial results at or near the top end of these revised ranges.”

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