BRYN MAWR, PA — Essential Utilities Inc. (NYSE: WTRG) announced it has agreed to sell its West Virginia natural gas utility assets to Hope Gas, headquartered in Morgantown, WV. This move will allow the company to focus on – and prioritize – the growth of its utilities in states where it has scale, following its long-term strategy of infrastructure investment and growth by acquisition of water and wastewater systems.
Specifically, the transaction will allow the Essential team to:
- Prioritize the growth of Aqua, its water and wastewater business, and
- Focus on the efficient, safe operation and emission reduction of Peoples Natural Gas (‘Peoples’) through continued investment in pipe replacement and participation in the development of a regional energy hub
The remaining gas operations will continue to focus on capital improvements, operating excellence, and safety. The Peoples operation in Western Pennsylvania also will continue to play an important role in Essential’s acquisition strategy as Aqua expands its footprint into the region, leveraging Peoples’ valued brand and community relationships.
Totaling approximately 13,000, the customer base of Peoples West Virginia (‘Peoples WV’) is the smallest among all of the states where Essential operates. However, over the past two-and-a-half years, under the management of Essential and the dedicated WV employees, the company continued to make investments and operational improvements.
“The ability to apply economies of scale is crucial for the long-term stability of utilities. The sale of Peoples WV to Hope Gas will provide greater economies of scale in West Virginia and allow continued rate stability for our customers. We will work diligently with the Hope Gas management team to close the transaction and fully expect a seamless transition,” said Chris Franklin, Chairman and CEO of Essential Utilities.
The sale is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.
It is expected to close by the middle of 2023.
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