While creating and selling electricity remains lucrative, the proposed NRG-GenOn merger announced July 22 is another sign of a dwindling market in California energy suppliers. Fewer wholesale entities might be problematic, according to some. \u201cMy worry is increasing concentration among independent power producers,\u201d California Public Utilities Commission member Mike Florio noted. For instance, Mirant became GenOn, Reliant became NRG, and now \u201cthey\u2019re all one,\u201d he added. The NRG-GenOn entity gains some short-term weight in the state with a combined 8,000 MW of operations in California. Wholesale suppliers in the state have shrunk through mergers and sole survivors. After significant losses, Constellation--which has a small California presence--merged with Exelon in March. Exelon failed in a hostile takeover of NRG in 2009. The non-California parts of Dynegy remain in bankruptcy reorganization. First Solar reorganized without bankruptcy protection in April. Dynegy, Calpine, First Solar, and SunPower continue to show financial shortfalls The California Independent System Operator isn\u2019t worried about a smaller competitive energy field. It has \u201ctariff rules in place to prevent the exercise of locational market power,\u201d according to Steven Greenlee, grid operator spokesperson. The latest NRG merged entity stands to be a regional heavyweight--in the short term. If the merger is approved by both federal and state regulators, the company would have an influence in the San Diego basin, with a requirement for backup with its fossil-fueled plants while the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station remains out. For that regional market, NRG is counting on the 57-year-old fossil-fueled Encina plant in Carlsbad. \u201cEncina has been experiencing significant runtimes\u201d due to the San Onofre outage, said NRG chief executive officer David Crane. Encina is subject to California requirements for once-through cooling restrictions, but is being replaced with a new dry-cooled facility at the same location (see story page 6). NRG appears keen on becoming a contender in the national wholesale electricity industry. The company has been on a buying spree in the last year. That included a failed attempt at nuclear power in Texas and successful acquisitions of California renewables. It has a $100 million deal with California regulators to build \u201ceVgo\u201d in the next four years to create an electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The \u201ceVgo\u201d plan would wire 10,000 individual sites. CEO Crane drives a Tesla. The merger in the short term may reinvigorate aging power plants. The $1.7 billion GenOn acquisition allows for $300 million in available cash, said Crane. We\u2019ll be \u201creinvesting--like in Marsh Landing,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019re glad that we\u2019ll have some money to do that\u201d for the 930 MW plant. The new company may have $300 million now in extra funds, but it still has debts. The company estimates that environmental mitigation alone in the next four years is expected to run $550 million. Then, there\u2019s an old $940 million debt that is bound to surface. The state alleges the company overcharged for electricity delivered through the Department of Water Resources during the 2000-01 energy crisis. After bouncing the case through federal courts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is to decide the outcome.