Teco Power Services

, a unit of

TECO Energy

(TE)

, and privately-held power generator

Panda Energy

, announced a $2.3 billion joint venture to build and operate two natural gas-fueled power plants with combined capacity of nearly 4,600 megawatts.

The companies will build a 2,220-megawatt plant in El Dorado, Ark., and a 2,350-megawatt plant in Gila Bend, Ariz. Both are expected to begin operation in 2002. Both units also are expected to be neutral to earnings during construction and to significantly increase earnings in 2003.

Shares of TECO were recently down 0.89%, or 25 cents, to $27.88 in

New York Stock Exchange

.