Unrest seen threat to Reliant NY plant sale

6 May 2004 – The breakdown of labour talks could jeopardize a plan by Reliant Energy to sell three power plants in New York, a union local said on Thursday.

“The breakdown at the bargaining table could have serious implications on Reliant’s ability to sell the three plants,” a statement issued by the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America, AFL-CIO said.

A spokeswoman for Houston-based Reliant said the company was disappointed the union had made the dispute public, but said talks for a new contract would continue.

“We are open to continued negotiations and in fact dates for future negotations have already been set,” Reliant spokeswoman Pat Hammond told Reuters.

She declined to comment on whether the company was in negotiations to sell the plants, although the company has previously said it would consider such a move as part of its ongoing restructuring to help trim debt.

Reliant’s New York plants, which generate about a quarter of the city’s electricity, include the 1277 MW Astoria, the 597 MW Gowanus, and the 305 MW Narrows power stations.

The power producer also owns 71 hydroelectric plants capable of producing 672 MW of capacity scattered across upstate New York, and the 101 MW Carr Street natural gas-fired station in East Syracuse.

Local 1-2, which represents 177 workers at the New York City plants, said potential new owners for the three New York City plants had made a new collective bargaining pact a contingency of any sale.

That sale could yield the company more than $700m according to the union.

Potential buyers are required to submit final bids for the three plants on May 8, the union said.