The company seeking to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline has turned to buying big natural gas power plants, as delays persist over approval of the embattled oil pipeline.

"This acquisition presents a unique opportunity in the current market environment and is a natural extension of our U.S. Northeast power business, strengthening our overall portfolio of assets in the region," said TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling about securing a deal with Talen Energy to buy a plant in gas-rich Pennsylvania.

The announcement came as the federal government reported in October that the majority of the nation's electricity came from natural gas in 2014 and that a significant transition away from coal was underway. The transition is being driven by a revolution in gas production derived from shale rock formations deep underground by using the process known as fracking.

TransCanada, although most well-known for its oil and gas ventures, owns and operates fleets of power plants in the United States.

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