Vistra Energy Cements Top Spot Among Residential Retail Electricity Providers

Vistra Energy, a retail power provider to 2.9 million customers,
announced this week it intends to purchase Crius Energy Trust. DNV
GL confirmed to Greentech Media that the acquisition makes Vistra
the largest residential retail electric power provider in the U.S.
based on number of customers. 

A company most recently in the news for its involvement in the
record-setting
Moss Landing
project, Vistra purchased Crius for about $328
million and will assume $108 million of that company’s net debt.
Crius, a multi-level energy seller that provides electricity
including solar power through a number of brands, has about 1
million customers.  

In announcing the deal, Vistra President and CEO Curt Morgan
said the Crius portfolio has “a high degree of overlap with
Vistra’s generation fleet and complements Vistra’s existing
municipal aggregation and large commercial and industrial portfolio
in the Midwest and Northeast markets.”  

The move follows on Vistra’s attempts to guard against the
instability inherent to competitive markets while expanding its
footprint, said Daniel Finn-Foley, a senior energy storage analyst
at energy research and consulting group Wood Mackenzie Power &
Renewables, who formerly worked as a senior consultant in retail
energy markets at DNV GL.  

“After emerging from bankruptcy in 2016, Vistra’s strategy
has seemed to focus heavily on diversifying its holdings and
hedging against the wholesale market volatility that drove its
predecessor toward unsustainability in 2014,” he said. “It has
diversified its generation fuel mix through the Upton 2 solar
system, and broadened its geographic footprint following a merger
with Dynegy, a kindred spirit company applying similar approaches
to risk following its own bankruptcy.” 

The emphasis on overlap in the Crius portfolio, as Finn-Foley
suggests, echoes Vistra’s 2017
merger
with Dynegy, which had a similar corporate strategy
incorporating wholesale generation and retail customers. The
companies’ combined portfolios contained over 60 percent natural
gas. Coal, nuclear, solar, oil and natural gas make up Vistra’s
current power plant portfolio.

At the time of the Dynegy merger, Vistra said the integration
would create the “lowest-cost integrated power company in the
industry.” The companies said streamlining costs through combined
operations would save $350 million a year.

Vistra has several other companies under its wing as well. In
2016 it
spun off
of bankrupt Energy Future Holdings Corp. under a
different name, along with a couple of subsidiaries. It’s the
parent company for TXU Energy, a retail electricity provider in
Texas; Homefield Energy, a retail supplier affiliated with Dynegy;
and Luminant, a power generation business based in Texas with a
portfolio made up of natural gas, coal, solar and nuclear. 

The Crius acquisition adds 11.6 terawatt-hours of load to
Vistra’s portfolio, which the company said would improve its
generation-to-load profile. Vistra’s generation capacity
currently sits at around 41 gigawatts.   

More recently, Vistra has staked a claim in the energy space.
Last year it contracted for a record-breaking battery at a former
Dynegy plant in California’s Moss Landing and for a smaller

system
at a solar plant in West Texas.

“Vistra’s diversification strategy has vaulted the company
to the front of the fast-paced energy storage market-share race,
where its Upton 2 solar-paired 42-megawatt-hour battery and
contracted 1.2-gigawatt-hour Moss Landing system put it on the map
with pioneering projects in two key markets,” said
Finn-Foley.

Vistra now operates in 12 states and six out of seven of the
U.S.’ competitive power markets. Crius operates in 19 states plus
Washington, D.C., so the acquisition will further expand Vistra’s
footprint. 

The acquisition deal still awaits the OK from two-thirds of
Crius’ “unitholders,” as well as regulatory approvals, but
Vistra said the acquisition will likely close in Q2 2019.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Vistra Energy Cements Top Spot Among Residential Retail Electricity Providers