Allegheny Energy will likely seek bankruptcy protection if negotiations with its lenders fall apart. The company has lost $334 million in the first nine months of this year.

. .Allegheny Energy provides electricity and natural gas to about one-point-seven million customers in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Allegheny Energy Inc. said Thursday it would likely seek bankruptcy protection if it can't agree with lenders on new credit terms.

Allegheny is reeling from the downturn in energy trading following the collapse of Enron Corp. Allegheny borrowed heavily last year to buy Merrill Lynch & Co.'s energy-trading business for $490 million. Now it is fighting lawsuits, debt problems and declining revenues. Earlier this month, Allegheny suspended the cash dividend on its common stock to save about $54 million in the fourth quarter. The company previously announced cost-cutting steps that included cutting 600 jobs and canceling the development of several generating plants.

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