Houston-based Calpine Corp. is getting into the residential electricity business after agreeing to buy Champion Energy Services for $240 million from Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and his Crane Capital Group.

Calpine, one of the nation’s top power generators, will acquire Houston-based Champion and its 180 employees, all of whom will make the switch. Champion has 2.5 million residential equivalent customers, many of whom are in Texas, and as well as additional commercial and industrial customers.

The cash deal is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2015. Crane Capital currently owns 75 percent of Champion and the rest is owned by EDF Trading, a subsidiary of the giant France-based EDF electric utility company.

In a prepared statement, Calpine President and CEO Thad Hill said Monday that the deal is part of Calpine’s deliberate growth plans “to be closer to our end-use customers.” The company was one of the few top power generators without a residential retail arm, but the Champion acquisition will help Calpine move into that sector.

Calpine already had an existing relationship with Crane as one of the top “Community Leaders” sponsors of the Astros. The deal also includes the acquisition of Champion’s Cavallo Energy.

Champion was founded in 2002 in Houston at the time when Texas deregulated the electricity market. Apart from Texas, Champion has customers in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.

Calpine, which exited bankruptcy in 2008, moved from California to Houston in 2009. The company has grown through its reliance on natural gas-fired power plants as federal regulations have hurt coal-fired plants. The company has about 2,000 employees, including around 800 in the region.

Sourced from fuelfix.com July 21st, 2015.