Bankruptcy may be the best thing to happen to Energy Future Holdings’ coal-burning power plants.

Saddled with $49.7 billion in debt under the stewardship of private-equity firms that included KKR & Co. (KKR), the Texas electricity generator is poised for a turnaround after emerging from bankruptcy court. Its five coal plants, some at risk for closure, will have more staying power as debt gets slashed, higher natural gas prices boost profits and concerns about grid reliability increase their value.

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