Exelon touts nuclear fleet; sees power market positives

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) saw its nuclear fleet have a capacity factor of more than 96% in the first three months of 2013 beating the mark recorded a year ago.

The nuclear fleet operated at a 96.4% capacity factor during the first quarter of 2013, Exelon executives said during a May 1 quarterly earnings call. That’s compared with 93.6% for 1Q12.

The increased nuclear generating volume was due to fewer planned and unplanned outage days.

Exelon Generation’s nuclear fleet, including its owned output from the Salem plant, produced 36,031 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 1Q13, compared with 35,262 GWh in 1Q12. The output data excludes the units owned by Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC (CENG), which Exelon acquired in the past year.

The dispatch match rate for Generation’s fossil and hydro fleet was 98.4% in 1Q13, compared with 87.8% in 1Q12. The 2013 results include former Constellation plants and Exelon hydro plants, whereas the 2012 data includes only legacy Exelon fossil plants.

Exelon is also saving a significant amount of capital expenditure spending in the coming year due to cancellation of nuclear power uprates at the Dresden and Quad Cities stations in Illinois, officials said.

“Our fossil and renewable fleet had a strong quarter as well,” with high availability levels, said CEO Chris Crane.

Power prices up but Exelon not eager to build new gas units

“The power prices have improved since the beginning of the year as we have all seen,” Crane said. “Gas prices have picked up in the near term” but look flat in the long range, Crane said.

“We still have a lot of work to do” on integration with Constellation, Crane said during the question and answer session. Crane also said while the cost of building new generation has leveled off, the power is still not attractive enough for Exelon to start building new combined-cycle units in the East.

On the latter point, Crane was responding to a question about new combined-cycle plant announcements in PJM.

“We successfully installed 69 MW of solar,” at the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project in California, Crane noted. The remaining phases of the project are on track to be completed by the original planned commercial operation date of December 2013.

Forward power prices increased in most regions in early 2013, company officials said. The company also enjoyed favorable weather during 1Q12, officials said.

Exelon is seeing a “moderately more bullish sentiment” these days regarding natural gas and power markets, said Exelon Executive Vice President and CFO Jonathan “Jack” Thayer.

On March 21, 2013, SB9 was sent to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for his consideration. The governor has 60 days to approve or veto the legislation. Among other things, In addition, SB9 provides for accelerated advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployment that would commence earlier than 2015.

Earnings include financial results for Constellation Energy and Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) while 1Q12 earnings only contains the financial results for those companies from March 12, 2012 to March 31, 2012.

Exelon’s adjusted (non-GAAP) operating earnings declined to 70 cents per share in the 1Q13 from 85 cents per share in 1Q12.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.