• Houston-based power generator seeks to shrink debt amid slump
  • NRG Energy asking U.S. regulators to approve sale by year-end

NRG Energy Inc., which has lost more than half of its market value this year, is seeking U.S. regulatory approval for the sale of a gas-fired power plant in Illinois.

The biggest U.S. independent power producer asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to sell the Shelby County site in Neoga, Illinois, to private-equity fund Rockland Power Partners II LP, according to a filing with the agency. NRG asked on Friday that the sale of the 352-megawatt, gas-fueled plant be cleared by Dec. 30.

The deal comes as the Houston-based power generator seeks to streamline its operations and pay down debt. The company told investors Sept. 18 that it planned to sell fossil-fuel plants, cut costs and spin off its home solar business. Its shares have fallen 55 percent this year, making it the worst-performing member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Utilities Index.

NRG spokesman David Gaier declined to disclose terms of the transaction. Gaier said the company hadn’t announced the sale of the Illinois plant before the federal filing on Friday. Rockland didn’t immediately respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

Separately, NRG filed a notice on Friday with the New York State Department of Labor to lay off 64 workers at its coal-fired Dunkirk power plant. It’s slated to shut a 75-megawatt unit at the site in September 2016 for “economic” reasons.

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