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Allegheny Energy expanding

November 28, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

Allegheny Energy expanding



Allegheny Energy Inc. has taken several big steps this year toward becoming a nationwide electricity supplier, company officials said Monday.

The latest move came in October, when the Hagerstown-based company announced plans to build a 1,080-megawatt natural gas-fired generating facility in La Paz County, Ariz.

When the $540 million plant is completed in 2005, it will allow Allegheny to sell power in Arizona and other western states.

National expansion brings growth to the company, which in turn gives stability to the 330 Allegheny employees who work in Washington County, said Cynthia A. Shoop, vice president of corporate communications.

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Shoop and other company representatives talked informally with area news media Monday about the company's future.

The company has seen a small upswing in employment locally, partially making up for layoffs that took place during a corporate restructuring in 1996, Shoop said. There were 530 employees in Western Maryland before the restructuring.

The reorganization and the national expansion were prompted by industry deregulation, which has allowed the company to grow much faster than it had in the past, Shoop said.

In October, the company reported third-quarter operating earnings of $76.1 million, 69 cents per share, compared to 1999 third quarter earnings of $73.3 million,63 cents per share. That represents a per-share increase of 9.5 percent.

Also this year, the company has:

- Completed the purchase of Mountaineer Gas Company, West Virginia's largest natural gas provider.

- Announced the purchase of three natural gas-fired generating plants in the Midwest. The acquisition will add another 1,710 megawatts of generating power.

The company is more than halfway to its goal of having 16,000 megawatts of generating power by 2005, said Janice D. Lantz, manager of communications for Allegheny Energy Supply, the company's unregulated power supply arm.

Allegheny Energy serves about 1.6 million customers in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

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