Cascade Crossing in-service date will be delayed

Ongoing permitting processes for the Cascade Crossing transmission line have forced Portland General Electric (PGE) (NYSE:POR) to update its estimated in-service date for the proposed project to “no earlier than 2017,” PGE President and CEO Jim Piro said in a Nov. 8 earnings call.

PGE had estimated previously an in-service date for Cascade Crossing sometime in 2016 or 2017, but Piro said the project “is a little more delayed now.”

The approximately 215-mile, 500-kV transmission line is in the planning and permitting stage, and PGE expects to receive permission to begin construction by 2014.

“We continue developing and providing information for the draft environmental impact statement for the USDA Forest Service and the environmental analysis for the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs,” Piro said.

“We are also in the midst of negotiations with Bonneville Power Administration on agreements that enable the integration and operation of the project into the Northwest power grid; with PacifiCorp regarding their potential participation in the project as a co-owner; and with the Confederated Tribes on easements to cross tribal lands,” he continued.

PGE estimates Cascade Crossing will cost nearly $1bn and would expand grid interconnection access for new generation resources to help the state meet its renewable portfolio standard.

The company reported in its 3Q12 earnings a net income of $38m, or $0.50 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2012, compared with $27m, or $0.36 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2011. This increase was due, in part, to a 2% increase in residential deliveries and an increase in unrealized gains on non-qualified benefit plan trust assets.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, PGE’s net income was $113m, or $1.49 per diluted share, compared with $118m, or $1.57 per diluted share for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. The decrease was primarily driven by a 2% decrease in residential energy deliveries as a result of warmer weather during the 2012 heating season and a 1% decrease in average variable power cost as a result of lower natural gas prices.

PGE issued a request for proposals on Oct. 1 seeking approximately 100-MW of renewable generating resources. Bids are due Nov. 13, and PGE expects to initiate negotiations with finalists early next year.