Editor's Note: This article originally stated that Credit Suisse and TXU formed a joint energy trading venture last year. Although the companies did announce their intention to form such a venture, they ultimately decided not to pursue those plans. The Motley Fool regrets the error.

Every little bit helps.

I guess that's the philosophy embraced by investors, speculators, and traders toward Calpine's (NYSE:CPN) recently announced agreement to form an energy trading venture with Wall Street investment bank Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC). Although I don't see this venture making a major dent in Calpine's problems, it's really not costing this independent utility anything to try, so maybe it can help a little bit.

Under the agreement, the two companies will form CalBear Energy L.P., an energy trading business that Bear Stearns will own, giving half of the profits to Calpine. Bear Stearns will serve as a guarantor for power and gas agreements, with Calpine acting as the exclusive agent for energy trading. Before this deal, Calpine was already involved in energy trading, and its 200 or so employees in that field will move over to this venture.

As part of the deal, Bear Stearns will also be extending $350 million in "credit intermediation agreements" to Calpine. In simpler English, that appears to me to be another way of saying short-term debt that will be guaranteed by Bear Stearns. The guarantee should definitely be helpful to Calpine because it will free up working capital throughout the business. And it's certainly the best sort of debt terms that a company with Calpine's junk ratings could realistically hope to get.

For Bear Stearns, you could say that this is the price of showing up late to the party. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MWD) already have their stakes in the ground in energy trading, as do other large firms like Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER). Investors may also recall an ultimately ill-fated attempt between Credit Suisse Group (NYSE:CSR) and Texas-based utility TXU (NYSE:TXU) to form a similar venture last year.

It remains to be seen, though, if this new venture really amounts to much for Calpine. The $350 million debt agreements certainly help in the near term, and any profits generated by this venture will be welcome. Nevertheless, this is a troubled company still straining under both excess capacity and excess debt. Though I'm not ruling out the possibility that Calpine will find a way to hang on, I'm certainly not willing to bet on that possibility with my own money.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).