Edison, Sempra Down in Quarter, PG&E Up

By Published On: August 10, 2007

Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, reported a big drop in income–$93 million in the second quarter of 2007, compared to $177 million in the same quarter last year. Edison, the utility, posted $144 million for the quarter, compared to $234 million this time last year. The company’s generation subsidiary, Edison Mission, recorded a $49 million loss, compared with a $56 million gain in the second quarter 2006. “We’re performing reasonably well,” John Bryson, International’s chief executive officer told the financial community August 9. Bryson revealed that due to impending national constraints on carbon dioxide emissions, it is considering shutting down its coal-fired Edison Mission power plants (none of which are located in California). Another set back for the company was the decision in May by the Arizona Corporation Commission to deny its segment of the 500 kV Palo Verde-Devers 2 transmission line. Edison hoped the $600 million project would bring in less-expensive power from Arizona, and also transport new renewable energy from the state’s eastern desert area. The company is appealing that decision. “We’ll certainly go back to Arizona and work harder on this, including economic and environmental” impacts, Bryson said. If the line is not built, he added, the utility would have to look for 1,000 MW of additional capacity in its own service area. Officials added that the utility’s just-filed general rate case with the California Public Utilities Commission could result in a 6.2 percent increase in customer rates. Pacific Gas & Electric continues to stress its commitment to a lower-carbon economy, although officials did say that meeting the state’s 20 percent renewable standard on time is not a sure thing. PG&E Corp., the parent company of the utility, reported quarterly income of $269 million, up from $232 million this time last year. PG&E, the utility, posted income of $270 million, compared to $223 million in the second quarter of 2006. The discrepancy between the reported numbers is due to the corporation’s operating costs, according to the company. Officials warned, however, that the rest of the year might not be quite as rosy because of expected outlays for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant’s high-level radioactive waste storage plans and the costs of what the company calls its “business transformation.” “We believe the future will be very different,” said Peter Darbee, PG&E Corp. chief executive officer. He added the company has been putting together a new management team from “a variety of backgrounds” to tackle future business challenges. The company said it is contracting for more renewable power than required by California’s renewables portfolio standard in hopes that the required 20 percent will be deliverable when necessary. Officials noted, though, that the lack of transmission lines to areas with renewable power potential, as well as immature technology in some cases, may impact renewable power deliverability. Another technology issue for PG&E is the improving technology for advanced metering. Although officials said that the lack of commercially available technology “will not slow down” smart meter deployment, they did not sound sanguine that technology would catch up to installations any time soon. Because the utility is installing smart meters on a regional level, according to utility chief executive officer Bill Morrow, the company can go back to the first deployment area and retrofit the meters when the newer technology becomes available. Sempra, the parent corporation of SoCal Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric–as well as several other subsidiaries–reported quarterly income of $277 million, down from the same second quarter last year of $373 million. Sempra’s projects are all over the map, literally, as well as financially. Its $4.4 billion Rockies Express gas pipeline in the Midwest is expected to be operational by 2009. SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink $1.3 billion transmission line recently suffered a setback as California Public Utilities Commission hearings to allow it to proceed have been postponed due to questions over cost. “We have a lot of confidence that this link will be built,” said Sempra chief executive officer Don Felsinger. Also on the books is a deal with Calpine. That company, currently in bankruptcy protection, is set to finish the Otay Mesa power plant and send its electricity to SDG&E. The financial structure of the deal is expected to allow Sempra to realize a return on its “phantom” debt equity, according to officials while Calpine is supposed to finance the build out with a 75 percent debt structure. In detail, Sempra utilities posted $105 million in income for the quarter, down from $123 million in the same quarter for 2006. Sempra generation–which just launched into the renewables business with a 250 MW wind project set for Baja California–recorded $10 million for the quarter, down from $16 million this time last year. Sempra LNG, with another Baja project for a liquefied natural gas terminal, posted a loss of $13 million. This time last year the loss was $17 million.

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