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The U.K.'s largest natural gas company has purchased Texas electricity provider First Choice Power for $270 million, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Despite a strong presence in the U.K., Centrica Plc has ramped up its efforts to expand its role in the U.S. market. The electricity supplier adds another 220,000 accounts to the more than 600,000 Centrica already holds in Texas.
This works out to a higher price per account than prior purchases, but the company felt that First Choice's strong customer base represents a safe investment, particularly with 20 percent of the accounts coming from small businesses.
Texas represents a strong area of interest for natural gas companies like Centrica. While deregulation in the state has increased competition and lowered electricity rates, it remains a crucial market for the fuel. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that Texas drew nearly 65 percent of its electricity from natural gas in 2009, while it accounted for only around 45 percent of electricity in the U.K. in 2008, according to the International Energy Administration.