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Large US utility sheds its hydro

Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E), one of the largest hydro power generators in the US, is getting out of the hydroelectric plant business to concentrate on delivering power — rather than generating it.

The utility has announced plans to sell or spin off 68 hydro plants in California with a book value of US$1.2B. This would be the biggest of three major sales of PG&E power plants in recent months, leaving the utility only with Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

San Francisco-based PG&E said it will decide this summer whether to sell the hydro plants or spin them off to shareholders. The power plants, which are situated along 16 river basins, have an installed generating capacity of 3900MW and are responsible for about 15% of the electricity the company generates. Over 240 people are employed in the 68 plants.

In the future, PG&E said it plans to focus on the delivery of electricity through its transmission and distribution system.