Carty natural gas plant 70% done; still on schedule for operation in mid-2016

Portland General Electric (NYSE:POR) said Oct. 27 that construction on the 440-MW Carty natural gas power plant near Boardman, Ore., is 70% complete.

The plant is scheduled to be placed into service during the second quarter of 2016 at an estimated cost of $450m, excluding allowance for funds used during construction (AFDC), said PGE President and CEO Jim Piro during a quarterly earnings conference call.

Carty will employ Mitsubishi turbine technology. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPS) is being overseen by Abener/Abengoa. Assembly of the heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) is complete and hydrostatic testing has started, Piro said.

The 500-kV Grassland switchyard serving the site has been completed, Piro noted. The utility enjoyed a 99% plant availability factor during the third quarter, Piro said.

Portland General Electric is preparing for its integrated resource plan (IRP), which will be submitted in 2016. The plan will discuss replacement of power from the Boardman coal plant and the utility’s plans to comply with the Oregon’s renewable mandate of 20% by 2020.

There is early discussion of an Oregon ballot measure to increase the Oregon renewable mandate to 50% by 2040. The proposal could also prohibit “coal-by-wire” by 2030, Piro said.

The coal-by-wire measure could have some impact on Portland General Electric but it’s important to note that the ballot measure does not yet have the required number of signatures, Piro said.

In response to a question, Piro acknowledged that Montana is under a lot of pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which could affect the future of the Colstrip coal plant.

Portland General Electric recently brought online the Port Westward 2 natural gas power plant and the Tucannon River wind project, during recent months, company officials also noted.

During the third quarter of 2015, Portland General Electric sources of power broke down this way: Natural gas 30%; hydroelectric power 10%; wind power 12%; purchased power 22% and coal 26%.

PGE expects below-average hydro conditions for the year and normal thermal plant and wind operations for the remainder of the year. The impact of El Nino on wind potential is hard to quantify, so that’s why PGE is keeping its wind output prediction normal, officials said.

Portland General Electric has reached a settlement in its general rate case. A final order is expected to be issued by the Oregon Public Utility Commission by December of this year. The settlement calls for a revenue increase of $13m and a projected average price increase of 0.7%. The return on equity would be 9.6%.

Oregon’s annual job growth reached a 10-year high in August, expanding by more than 60,000 jobs over past 12 months. Unemployment of 5.4% in the company’s operating area was below the Oregon and slightly above the national jobless rate. Average customer count increased approximately 1% over the past year

Portland General Electric reported net income of $36m, or 40 cents per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2015. This compares with net income of $39m, or 47 cents per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2014.

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.