Unregulated Firms Post Mostly Higher Profits

By Published On: February 28, 2014

Merchant power companies with fossil fuel generation in California posted higher profits for 2013 as a result of backing up renewables and the ongoing call for ancillary resources in Southern California in the absence of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Earnings for companies with renewable investments were a mixed bag for the year. Highlights of unregulated earnings for 2013, as well as fourth quarter, include:   AltaGas—The Canadian company with interests in California power reported $176 million for 2013. In 2012, the full-year income was $109.5 million. For the fourth quarter 2013, AltaGas posted $60 million, compared with fourth quarter earnings in 2012 of $46.6 million. The increase was, in large part, due to the revenues from the Blythe fossil-fueled facility in Riverside Co., noted the company. It bought the 507 MW Blythe Energy Center, a natural gas plant with a related transmission line, for $515 million on March 25 2013. Calpine—With geothermal and fossil plants in the state, this company posted a 2013 full-year income at $170 million. In 2012, the total was $78 million. For the last quarter 2013, Calpine reported a $5 million net income. In the last quarter 2012, it lost $86 million. Its Geysers facility had a lower output last year because the company built a new cooling tower for one unit. Calpine executives also noted that a low-hydroelectric year on the horizon benefits the company’s fossil fleet in California. Limited hydro resources are expected to be held for “super-peak” requirements. While the influence of more renewables affects Calpine’s fossil-fueled plants’ direct sales, the company stressed to investors that California’s requirement for flexible fossil generation is increasing, not decreasing. It noted the year-old Russell City and Los Esteros projects in Hayward and San Jose are contributing to flexible capacity. Also, Calpine notes there should be 3,000 MW of retiring plants in Northern California—where much of its fleet is based—allowing an advantage for its newer fleet. Dynegy—The company, pulling out of bankruptcy protection, reported a $356 million loss for 2013. In 2012, the loss was $107 million. It operates its California facilities under a separate entity that was not involved in the bankruptcy. Units 6 and 7 at the Moss Landing facility—with 754 MW and 755 MW, respectively—hold a power purchase agreement from Southern California Edison from 2014-2016. The 1,000 MW Morro Bay plant is set to be retired. First Solar—The company posted a $353 million net profit for 2013. For 2012, that was a loss of $96 million. For the last quarter last year, earnings were $65 million. In the third quarter 2012, it was $154 million. First Solar told financial analysts that it has a 150 MW “unnamed” photovoltaic power plant in California on its way. It also noted that the 40 MW Kingbird solar plant in Kern County has a purchase agreement with the Southern California Public Power Authority. NextEra Energy Resources— A division of NexEra that’s California’s major wind developer reported year-end profits at $556 million. In 2012, the company posted $693 million. For the fourth quarter, earnings were $85 million, compared to $171 million at this time last year. In 2013, NextEra added 375 MW of wind power and expects another 2,000 MW by 2015. Its solar facility in Riverside County, the Desert Sunlight project, went online last year on Bureau of Land Management land. It’s gauged for 550 MW but is only partially built. Its Genesis concentrated photovoltaics plant near Blythe also is reported to be online. Both plants were sending 280 MW of power into the grid last year, according to NextEra. NRG—The company’s earnings were not available by press time. NRG’s $2.6 billion deal to buy Edison Mission to bring it out of bankruptcy was finalized Feb. 19. Edison Mission owns generation nationwide, including the 479 MW Walnut Creek fossil plant in the City of Industry. It, along with Google, and BrightSource Energy, opened the 392 MW Ivanpah thermal solar facility Feb. 13. The $2.3 billion project received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz spoke at the ceremony. Ivanpah’s been controversial because of its large size and environmental impacts, but some environmentalists see it as a big step forward for large-scale solar—in this instance, with storage potential. Ivanpah units 1 and 3 output are being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under two long-term power purchase agreements. The electricity from unit 2 is being sold to Southern California Edison. SunEdison—With offices in San Clemente, Sacramento, Belmont, and Ontario, this company has both large- and small-scale photovoltaic projects and a semiconductor business. It reported a 2013 net loss of $586 million, compared to a loss in 2012 of $150 million. For the fourth quarter 2013, its loss was $286 million. In the fourth quarter 2012, the loss was $11.8 million. Although its solar segment income fell $61 million, SunEdison has 3.4 GW in its solar project pipeline worldwide, with 504 MW under construction. Its solar sales for last year totaled $1 billion. SunPower Corp.— This San Jose-based photovoltaic company is doing much better financially than in the recent past. It posted income of $95.5 million for 2013, compared to a negative $ 352 million in 2012. For the last quarter last year, SunPower reported $22 million in net income. The same quarter in 2012 was a negative $144 million. Editor’s note: Current attempts to present financial information on an apples-to-apples level, but not all corporations report on the same basis.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now