Portland General Electric’s second quarter earnings took a hit from lower wholesale power costs and diminished hydroelectric output during the quarter.
The utility reported on Aug. 2 net income for the quarter of $25 million, or 28 cents per diluted share, down from a net income of $46 million, or 51 cents per diluted share, during the second quarter of 2018.
PGE’s net variable power costs were challenging due in part to significantly lower-than-average hydro production in the Pacific Northwest, Maria Pope, president and CEO of PGE, said during the company’s earnings call on Aug. 2.
“As such, our thermal plants increased generation 22 percent over the second quarter of 2018. Concurrently, California experienced very strong hydro conditions driving down regional power prices and decreasing revenues,” she said. “Second, transmission and distribution operating expenses increased due to enhanced focus on strengthening the resiliency and reliability of our system.”
Wholesale revenues took a dip, the company reported, due to a 25 percent decrease in average prices and a 26 percent drop in sales volume.
Jim Lobdell, senior VP of finance, CFO and treasurer, told analysts that PGE’s water-power supply portfolio performed well, but it did not perform as favorably as in 2018.
“This contributed to an increase in net variable power costs,” he said. “This was primarily due to the variation in market prices during the first quarter resulting from the Enbridge pipeline outage, in addition to lower hydro production—in particular, PGE-owned hydro resources in the mid-Columbia—resulting in a 13 percent decrease in production when compared to the second quarter of 2018.”
Pope told analysts the company’s board of directors approved construction of the company’s $200-million integrated operations center, which will advance PGE’s integrated grid strategy and is designed to enhance resiliency against “seismic, cyber and physical security threats.”
The new center will be located in Tualatin, Ore., and is expected to be on line in 2021.