April 30 (Reuters) - U.S. power company NextEra Energy Inc said on Tuesday its NextEra Energy Resources unit will sell its oil-fired power plants in Maine, which have a generating capacity of 796 megawatts (MW).
The company decided to sell the plants to reduce its exposure to merchant pricing and recognized a charge of roughly $41 million, NextEra said in its first quarter earnings release.
The Maine plants include the company's stake in the 822-MW Wyman plant and the 18-MW Cape Gas Turbine.
Last month, NextEra sold 351 MW of hydropower assets in Maine and New Hampshire to a unit of Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners LP.
NextEra also said it signed long-term power purchase agreements during the first quarter for 225 MW of new U.S. wind projects and 40 MW of solar projects.
NextEra said it sees the potential to invest $1 billion to $3 billion to add about 500 to 1,500 MW of U.S. wind assets through 2014 and about $1 billion to add up to 300 MW of solar power through 2016.
Nextera Energy Resources operates about 18,800 MW of generation, including about 10,100 MW of wind and over 300 MW of solar power.
At its Florida Power and Light (FPL) utility unit in Florida, NextEra said it completed the 1,200-MW Cape Canaveral natural gas-fired power plant on budget and ahead of schedule last week. The plant cost about $900 million to build.
In addition, FPL said its 1,250-MW Riviera Beach gas-fired modernization project was on schedule and on budget with an expected in service date of June 2014.
And the company said the demolition of its Port Everglades facility is set for July with the new 1,277-MW gas-fired plant expected to be in service by June 2016.
NextEra has said the new Riviera Beach and Port Everglades plants would each cost about $1.3 billion to build.
To keep up with the state's growing demand for natural gas, FPL also said it was evaluating proposals to build a gas pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and expected to make a decision over the summer.
During the earnings conference call with analysts, NextEra Energy Resources President and CEO Armando Pimentel said the company sees transmission opportunities across the United States due in part to FERC Order 1000.
Under FERC Order 1000, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) wants to open to competition the construction of new lines needed to meet regional public policy requirements like state renewable portfolio standards, among other things.
"As you might imagine, the incumbent utilities have a significant interest in what happens in their home territory and would like to build the transmission themselves, but we see continued opportunities," Pimentel said on the conference call.
He did not mention any specific projects but said the company saw opportunities in California, New England, Hawaii and other U.S. states, and in Canada.
The transmission opportunities were long term projects not expected to enter service until the 2017-2018 timeframe, the company said.
In March, NextEra energized the 330-mile (531-kilometer), 345-kilovolt Lone Star transmission line in Texas.