Bill Gates' Energy Venture

He sets up a new unregulated generator with PNM.
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PNM Resources

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set plans to create a new unregulated energy company in concert with its big shareholder, Bill Gates' Cascade Investment.

Albuquerque, N.M.-based PNM said the new company, temporarily called EnergyCo, will serve expanding U.S. markets throughout the Southwest, Texas and the West.

EnergyCo will enable PNM Resources to capitalize on the growth opportunities in these markets without assuming additional debt.

In particular, it is anticipated that Cascade will commit capital for the acquisition of assets and will make significant credit guarantees to increase EnergyCo's scale in its three anticipated business lines: competitive retail electricity sales, operation and ownership of diverse generation assets, and wholesale marketing and trading.

"Our partnership with Cascade enables us to execute our unregulated growth strategy faster than we could have otherwise," said PNM chief Jeff Sterba. "Together, we will create a growth vehicle that has the expertise, resources and flexibility needed to meet the rising demand for power in the markets we serve, while delivering clear benefits to customers and shareholders alike."

Cascade Investment owns 9.4% of PNM Resources' common stock and has been one of the company's largest shareholders since 2000.

Last year, Cascade invested $100 million in PNM Resources equity-linked securities to help fund the acquisition of Fort Worth-based TNP Enterprises.