Just Energy files for creditor protection in Canada after Texas freeze hit

(Reuters) - Electricity and gas provider Just Energy Group Inc said it filed for creditor protection in Canada and plans to do the same in the United States, citing massive costs from the Texas deep freeze last month.

It became the second Texas electricity company to take the step in the face of extraordinary electricity charges during the cold snap.

Last week, Texas’ largest and oldest electric power cooperative, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc, filed for bankruptcy protection in Houston, citing a disputed $1.8 billion debt to the state’s grid operator.

Just Energy said on Tuesday it expects to receive a loan that would enable it to pay the state’s grid operator more than $250 million for power. It would be unable to cover the bill without the loan.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator, said on Tuesday it expects $2.48 billion in payment for power provided during the week-long freeze. Just Energy does not appear on the list of companies ERCOT said were behind on payments as of March 3.

Just Energy in February raised doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern, saying increased demand for electricity and rolling blackouts in Texas forced it to balance power supply at very high clearing prices.

Electricity prices in Texas soared last month as utilities scrambled to meet a surge in heating demand during the historic winter storm.

Canada’s Innergex Renewable Energy and Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp, operating in the area, have also said they expected losses related to wind farms.

Just Energy said all services to customers across the Ontario-based company’s North American operations will continue without interruption and there will be no impact on customers’ bills or daily operations.

Trading was halted in Just Energy’s Canadian and U.S-listed stocks earlier on Tuesday.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli