Not in Westchester County?
October 17, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Agera Energy of Briarcliff Manor files for bankruptcy protection

Agera Energy LLC, a Briarcliff Manor-based provider of retail electricity and natural gas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Oct. 4 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, declaring $124.1 million in assets and $207.8 million in liabilities.

The company has “effectively ceased all new sales efforts,” according to a declaration by Todd Sandford, chief operating officer, given “severe liquidity constraints and the lack of interest from third parties in a going-concern sale.”

Agera sells electricity and natural gas in states that allow “energy choice” companies to compete with local utilities.

Financier Greg E. Lindberg owns half of the economic interest and 89% of the voting interest in an affiliate that controls Agera Energy, according to the declaration.

Greg Lindberg

Agera Energy has 35,000 customers in 15 states and the District of Columbia, including Connecticut and New York. Three-fourths of its accounts are commercial and the rest are residential.

About a year ago, according to Sandford, new senior management discovered several problems.

The company had grown significantly by selling fixed-price contracts, as opposed to the less risky variable-price contracts. Many of the contracts have low profits or even negative profits.

New management also discovered “poor overall financial planning and forecasting,” weak controls and an inflated balance sheet.

As of August 2018, for instance, the balance sheet overstated accounts receivables by $39 million, including $37 million “unbilled receivables.”

Agera is also facing significant state regulatory problems, for failure to provide enough electricity generated from renewable sources. Eight states have demanded $151.2 million in alternative compliance payments, including $8.2 million by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and $1.9 million by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The company was working on a turnaround plan that would shed the low profit and no-profit contracts. It needed more capital.

Lindberg’s multinational investment company, Eli Global LLC in Durham, North Carolina, was committed to the turnaround and to injecting new capital. Last month, Eli Global changed its name to Global Growth.

But in April, Lindberg was indicted on federal public corruption charges for allegedly offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for official actions that would benefit his business interests.

The indictment was unrelated to Agera, Sandford states in the declaration, and Lindberg had no involvement in Agera’s day-to-day operations.

But by May 9, “it became clear that Eli Global was no longer in a position to inject the requisite capital needed to support the … business.”

Now the plan is to sell Agera’s assets to Constellation NewEnergy, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp., for $24.75 million. If approved by the bankruptcy court, the majority of its customers would be transferred to Constellation.