November 14, 2012 / 11:16 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Entergy can buy power plants, faces antitrust probe-US

WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Entergy Corp won U.S. antitrust clearance on Wednesday for its planned purchase of two plants from KGen Power Corp, but the U.S. Justice Department said it would continue an investigation into Entergy.

Investigators are examining whether Entergy has harmed consumers by exercising control over its transmission system and gas-fired power plants to exclude rivals that use combined-cycle gas turbine plants, the department said in a news release.

But the department said it was encouraged by an Entergy announcement that it intends to divest its electric transmission business to ITC Holdings Corp.

“If Entergy follows through on its commitments, these measures will address the antitrust division’s concerns by eliminating Entergy’s ability to maintain barriers to wholesale power markets,” the Justice Department said.

The department added that it will monitor developments and take enforcement action if warranted.

Entergy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The department said it reviewed the planned purchase of KGen’s power plants, in Mississippi and Arkansas, and did not object, despite Entergy’s “serial acquisition” of rivals’ power plants.

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