Entergy bringing on more natural gas capacity; continuing focus on nuclear

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) cited several important electric generation milestones in materials distributed in connection with its quarterly earnings presentation on April 28.

The company dedicated its 560-MW Ninemile 6 combined-cycle natural gas plant in Louisiana in January. Entergy Louisiana owns the new natural gas unit. Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans will also be major electricity customers of the plant.

Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and other Entergy companies hope to close on the purchase of two of the four power blocks at the gas-fired Union Power Station (UPS) in Arkansas during the fourth quarter. Entergy announced in December 2014 that it plans to buy the asset from an affiliate of Entegra

• Entergy’s non-utility Indian Point Unit 3 nuclear facility completed its refueling outage in 23 days, its shortest outage on record. Entergy remains involved in a prolonged contested disputed case before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over license renewal for Indian Point Units 2 and 3.

• Entergy’s regulated utilities relied on natural gas, oil and hydroelectric sources for 66% of their generating portfolio in 2014; followed by 24% nuclear and 10% coal.

Entergy Wholesale Commodities (EWC) gets 81% of its generation from nuclear power followed by gas and oil (14%) and 5% other. Entergy retired the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in December 2014.

• EWC’s nuclear fleet has had a 90% capacity factor so far in 2015, which is just below the predicted 92% assumption. There have been some forced outage days in the first quarter, Entergy reported. Also refueling outages are scheduled in the second quarter at the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts and during the fall for the Palisades plant in Michigan.

• Progress continues on the business combination of Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and Entergy Louisiana. Some approvals are still needed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the NRC.

• Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) recently signed legislation that establishes a forward test year formula rate plan and provides additional considerations in setting the return on equity. This legislation should result in more efficient rate making, and allow Entergy Arkansas, to focus time and resources on activities that create sustainable value for the state, including job growth.

• In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a bill into law that facilitates Entergy Mississippi, investment in electrical infrastructure at proposed economic development sites, even before a specific customer has been identified – and in doing so, supports growth and job creation in the state.

Entergy reported first quarter 2015 earnings per share of $1.65 on an as-reported basis and $1.68 on an operational basis, compared to first quarter 2014 as-reported EPS of $2.24 and operational EPS of $2.29.

“It was a productive first quarter, and in terms of performance, results and growth, we continue to be in line with our expectations,” said Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault. “The utility experienced its seventh straight quarter of industrial sales growth. We continued filling in the details of our resource plan, including the announcement of a new transmission project in Arkansas. We also took important steps to strengthen regulatory frameworks, in part by supporting the passage of new legislation in Arkansas and Mississippi and preparing for a pivotal rate case filing in Arkansas.”

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.