Unregulated Power Companies Post Rocky 2012 Earnings

By Published On: March 8, 2013

It wasn’t a good year for most solar companies last year. The main profit makers were ones like MidAmerican, which swallowed up California projects. Wind, however, continues to blow steady income, but demand-response shows nega-profits on negawatts. Highlights of earnings reports for the non-utility energy community include:   Calpine—With geothermal and fossil plants in the state, this company’s profits are growing. It reported a 2012 full year income of $199 million. In 2011 it posted a loss of $190 million. For the last quarter of 2012, the company reported a profit of $100 million. The same quarter in 2011, it was a loss of $13 million. Late last year, Calpine landed a five-year agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric for 280 MW of combined heat and power from its repowered Los Medanos plant. The contract is set to begin this summer. For the same plant, Calpine signed a seven-year agreement with Southern California Edison for output beginning in 2014. Edison is also set for gaining 120 MW of Calpine’s Gilroy cogeneration plant’s electricity next year. Calpine continues to construct its 429 MW Russell City Energy Center in Hayward. It’s expected to go online this year. Dynegy—The company estimated its 2012 income in the $50-$60 million range, but it is in bankruptcy reorganization. Dynegy owns the 1,000 MW Morro Bay plant, the 2,529 MW Moss Landing facility, the 165 MW plant at the Port of Oakland, and the 300 MW South Bay plant. South Bay was demolished in January.  The Morro Bay plant’s contract with Edison was terminated a year ago. It is operating as a merchant plant in the day-ahead California Independent System Operator market, according to a spokesperson. The company is selling off its assets, but not its California facilities, which are operated by a subsidiary not under bankruptcy. EnerNOC—Holding demand-response contracts with California investor-owned utilities, this aggregator posted a loss of $22.2 million for 2012. In 2011, the loss was $13 million. For the fourth quarter last year, the loss was $25.7 million, compared to a loss of $28 million in the same quarter last year. It signed a 200 (n)MW contract with Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison for 200 (n)MW last year. The company claims between 24,000-27,000 (n)MW is able to curtail in peak demand times. First Solar—After non-bankruptcy reorganization earlier in 2012, this thin-film solar panel company’s 2012 loss was $96 million. For the fourth quarter 2012, it reported $154 million in income. The Oakland-based company tends to partner with others, like Sempra, on its utility-sized projects. For instance, Sempra developed the 58 MW Copper Mountain facility in Nevada using 1 million First Solar modules. That plant went online in 2010. First Solar also provides rooftop solar installations. IHI (formerly Constellation)—This Japanese company moved the local headquarters to Aliso Viejo last year. It owns 70 MW of power plants in California. U.S. earnings were unavailable. MidAmerican—MidAmerican has been on a buying spree. It purchased 600 MW Antelope Solar from SunPower Corp. in January. In November 2012, it bought the Tehachapi-area 300 MW Alta Wind project from Highwind Power, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen. That energy is contracted to Edison. The company, through CalEnergy, has been a player in the state's renewables market for a while, with projects like geothermal. No related earnings information was available at press time. NextEra Energy Resources—California’s primary wind developer showed last year’s, last quarter income at $171 million. That’s compared to the last quarter of 2011 at $402 million. For the whole year, the company gained $687 million. In 2011, it was $679 million. The planned 250 MW McCoy solar project near Blythe on Bureau of Land Management land received regulatory permission for a 20-year purchase contract with Edison.  The governor granted it fast-track California Environmental Quality Act review last week (Current, March 1, 2013). NRG Energy—The company reported $559 million in gains for last year. The year before, it was $197 million—when it was going through acquisition of GenOn. For the last quarter of 2012, NRG made $516 million. It lost $109 million the same time in 2011. It has several California solar projects, including Agua Caliente at 253 MW. That plant began operating the last day of 2012 and is credited for “driving” the company’s solar revenue up. The electricity is sold to PG&E. The California Valley Solar Ranch at 250 MW is partially complete. Its energy, too, goes to PG&E. Part of the 378 MW Ivanpah plant is expected to go online in fall. NRG is half owner. The power is destined for Southern California Edison, with its first delivery predicted in January 2013. The 26 MW Borrego project has a contract with San Diego Gas & Electric. On the fossil-fueled side, NRG is repowering its 550 MW El Segundo plant. It’s expected to go online late next year.   SunPower Corp.—This San Jose-based photovoltaic company posted 2012 net losses at $352 million. In 2011, total losses were $613 million. For the last quarter of 2012, losses were posted at $144 million. In 2011 for the same quarter, losses mounted to $48 million. MidAmerican bought Sunpower’s 600 MW Antelope Valley solar project in January. The project has a contract with Edison. The company is expanding its strategy from building utility-sized facilities to leasing residential solar rooftops. And, it is making a push into international markets. Editor’s note: Current attempts to present financial information on an apples-to-apples level, but not all corporations report on the same basis.

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