As the economy improves and demand for power generation picks up, utilities and power plants are becoming more attractive to investors, McCeney said. The activity is being driven by pent-up demand for deals, lots of cash on balance sheets, and improving share prices.
Exelon, the Chicago utility giant that owns Peco Energy Co., agreed last week to buy Constellation for $7.9 billion in stock. Constellation is the parent company of Baltimore Gas & Electric.
Including net debt of $2.65 billion, the acquisition value of Constellation is about $10.5 billion, or slightly less than all the merger activity in the industry during the first quarter of 2010.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more deals through the end of the year," McCeney said.
The first-quarter figures were largely driven by Duke Energy Corp.'s $26 billion acquisition of Progress Energy Inc.
In addition to the accelerated pace of mergers, more power-generation assets are being sold as a financially attractive alternative to building new plants. The asset transactions include an increase in sales of renewable-power generators, such as wind turbines and solar farms.
Exelon officials said one of the main attractions of merging with Constellation was the combination of Exelon's big fleet of power plants with Constellation's power-trading unit.
Contact staff writer Andrew Maykuth at 215-854-2947 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more on the merger at www.exelonconstellationmerger.com.