PSEG isn’t predicting any real coal rebound in 2013

Much of the coal-fired capacity of Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE: PEG), which was barely burning any coal at all in early 2012 due to cheap natural gas, did pick up some burn in late 2012 due to the fact that some of PSEG’s other generating capacity was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

“Power’s Linden gas-fired combined cycle generating facility suffered damage from the storm and the facility has since been returned to service,” said PSEG CFO and Executive Vice President Caroline Dorsa during a Feb. 21 earnings called. “The decline in generation at Linden was partially offset by improved performance at the Bergen and Bethlehem, New York, gas-fired combined cycle generating facilities, as well as an improvement in generation from Power’s low-cost baseload coal-fired generating units.”

Dorsa added: “We expect our fuel mix in 2013 to be similar to 2012. Although strong wholesale prices have supported the operation of some of our intermediate load coal-fired generating units earlier in the year, the markets remain more supportive of operating our gas-fired combined cycle units, and we anticipate running our dual fuel intermediate coal units on gas, as well as coal.”

PSEG consists of the following companies: Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), PSEG Power, PSEG Energy Holdings and PSEG Services Corp. Under PSEG Power is PSEG Fossil LLC, which operates Power’s portfolio of natural gas, coal, and oil-fired units and oversees PSEG Power’s minority ownership interests in the Conemaugh and Keystone coal plants in Pennsylvania. Other coal capacity under PSEG Fossil is at the Mercer and Hudson plants in New Jersey and the Bridgeport Harbor plant in Connecticut.

The slides that went with the Feb. 21 earnings statement show that 2012 was a terrible year for coal at PSEG. The dual-fueled coal/gas units in New Jersey had a capacity factor of 24.6% in 2011, falling to 10.9% in 2012. Keystone and Conemaugh, apparently the baseload capacity Dorsa referred to, had a combined capacity factor of 73.9% in 2011, falling to 67.5% in 2012. And the Bridgeport Harbor coal capacity had a 13.8% capacity factor in 2011 and only 2.9% in 2012.

Another measurement is to look at fourth quarter 2012 capacity factors against the full year 2012 capacity factors, and coal didn’t really do all that well there either. For the New Jersey coal-gas capacity, the full year capacity factor was 10.9%, but only 1.3% in the fourth quarter. For Keystone and Conemaugh, it was 67.5% for the full year, and 64% in the fourth quarter. And for Bridgeport Harbor it was break-even, at 2.9% for both the full year and the fourth quarter. Sandy hit the New Jersey area on Oct. 29, roughly one third of the way through the fourth quarter.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.