Power wholesaler files for bankruptcy in Illinois

CHICAGO – Power wholesaler Edison Mission Energy and its Chicago-based subsidiary Midwest Generation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday to try to restructure about $5 billion in debt.

It wasn’t immediately clear what impact the move would have on Midwest Generation’s almost 1,000 Illinois employees.

In bankruptcy petitions filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chicago, Edison Mission Energy listed $5.13 billion in assets and $5.1 billion in debt. Santa Ana, Calif.-based Edison Mission Energy is owned by the California utility Edison International.

Edison Mission Energy President Pedro Pizarro said the companies hope to emerge from bankruptcy as a separate company independent of Edison International.

“This is an important first step in the process to reduce our debt, enhance our liquidity profile and position EME for continued operation and future success while preserving our ability to generate power safely and reliably at our electric facilities across the country,” he said in a printed news release. “Throughout this process, business operations will continue in the normal course, and we will continue to support our customers, suppliers and employees.”

Calls to Midwest Energy’s Chicago headquarters and David R. Seligman, the Chicago-based attorney listed in the bankruptcy filing, were not immediately returned.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the filing would affect the operations of either company, which include Midwest Generation plants in Joliet, Pekin, Waukegan and Romeoville. The business information website Hoover’s says Midwest has about 960 employees.

According to its website, Edison Mission Energy through its subsidiaries owns or leased more than 40 power plants in California, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Illinois and other states capable of producing more than 10,000 megawatts of power. The company also has a plant in Turkey.

In the news release, the companies said they plan to separate from Edison International by the end of 2014.

Edison Mission Energy blamed its financial troubles on low power prices, high fuel costs and the need to retrofit coal-fired power plants to meet environmental regulations.

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