Blackstone's GridLiance buys transmission assets

The electric transmission company has acquired 410 miles of transmission lines and related substation infrastructure from Tri-County Electric Cooperative.

GridLiance Holdco, a company backed by Blackstone’s energy-focused private equity business, has acquired the transmission assets and related infrastructure of Tri-County Electric Cooperative for an undisclosed amount.

The assets comprise approximately 410 miles of 69 and 115kV transmission lines and related substations, for which GridLiance, through subsidiary South Central MCN, has assumed full operational responsibility.

According to a statement, the closing of the transaction also triggers a co-development agreement, whereby GridLiance will represent TCEC – a non-profit distribution cooperative owned by its members – and its members’ interests in planning and developing new transmission projects within the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional transmission organisation.

Established in 2014, GridLiance focuses on collaborating with public power utilities to jointly plan, develop, own and operate transmission infrastructure. According to the statement, GridLiance enables its public power partners to invest in regulated transmission projects that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Blackstone announced last April that it would provide financial support to GridLiance through Blackstone Energy Partners, without providing details or specific figures.

“The completion of the TCEC acquisition marks an important milestone for our partnership model to help electric cooperative, municipal and joint action agency utilities (collectively ‘Public Power’) solve their decades-long transmission issues,” GridLiance president and chief executive Ed Rahill said. “Over the long-term, we can provide TCEC with a clear path to invest in SPP transmission projects that will reduce network congestion, increase service reliability and lower service costs,” he added.

GridLiance also announced the expansion of its operations and compliance teams, appointing Kevin Hopper as president of the SPP region, Neal Chapman as vice president of engineering and Jim Useldinger as vice president of operations. In addition to directly overseeing the engineering and operations functions of the newly-acquired TCEC assets, they will also help GridLiance build out its platform into other regions, working with chief operating officer Noman Williams and vice president of regulatory and compliance Trent Carlson.

The Blackstone-backed company seeks to establish long-term agreements with public power utilities. To date, it has 30-year joint development agreements in place with the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority. The Kansas City, Missouri-based company operates within MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) and SPP through its subsidiaries, South Central MCN and Midcontinent MCN, respectively.

Based in New York, Blackstone has invested approximately $8 billion of equity globally within the energy sector to date. The firm also invests in private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, with assets under management totaling approximately $330 billion.