Consistent Strength in Generation Performance Helping Offset Unfavorable Contract Pricing Conditions
Fleet availability remained strong for first quarter 2013 at 91.5 per cent compared to 91.7 per cent over the same period last year. TransAlta is close to completing one of four major maintenance outages planned on its coal units for the year and remains on track to deliver on its fleet availability goal of 89 - 90 per cent for the full year.
Highlights - TransAlta first quarter 2013
-- Funds from operations of $192 million or $0.74 per share-- Comparable earnings of $32 million or $0.12 per share-- Dividends paid of $0.29 per share to common shareholders-- Solomon acquisition contributed $9 million to comparable EBITDA
-- Coal: Comparable gross margins from TransAlta's coal fleet decreased $5 million quarter over quarter primarily as a result of higher unplanned outages and higher outage penalties due to higher rolling average pool prices.-- Gas: Comparable gross margins from TransAlta's gas fleet, excluding contributions from the Solomon acquisition, decreased $4 million quarter over quarter as a result of increased gas input costs-- Renewables: Comparable gross margins increased $5 million quarter over quarter primarily due to higher hydro margins-- Energy Trading: Gross margins were consistent quarter over quarter at $17 million for the current quarter
-- 2013 marks the return to a normalized planned major maintenance program. TransAlta has nearly completed the planned Sundance Unit 4 outage - the first of four major outages scheduled for 2013. The three remaining major maintenance coal outages are on track to be completed in 2013.
-- TransAlta expanded its Canadian renewables fleet with the addition of the 68 MW New Richmond wind farm in Quebec, which began commercial operation on March 13, 2013
Keephills Unit 1
On March 26, 2013, TransAlta announced an outage that occurred on March 5, 2013 at Unit 1 of our Keephills facility due to a winding failure found in the generator. TransAlta has given notice under the Power Purchase Arrangement ("PPA") to the PPA Buyer and the Balancing Pool of a High Impact Low Probability ("HILP") Force Majeure event. In the event of force majeure, TransAlta is entitled to continue to receive its PPA capacity payment and is protected under the terms of the PPA from having to pay availability penalties. As a result, TransAlta does not expect the outage to have a material financial impact on the Corporation. TransAlta is working with the original equipment manufacturer of the generator to safely return the Unit to service, which is currently expected to be in early May 2013.
On July 25, 2012, TransAlta announced that it had entered into an 11-year agreement to provide electricity from the Centralia Thermal plant to Puget Sound Energy ("PSE"). The agreement was approved, with conditions, by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission ("WUTC") on January 9, 2013. On January 23, 2013, it was announced that PSE had filed a petition for reconsideration of certain conditions within the decision issued by the WUTC. On March 22, 2013, the administrative law judge managing the regulatory hearing process issued two Commission Orders to establish an amended timeline for addressing the petition for reconsideration. The deadline for filing answers to the reconsideration motion is May 30, 2013, and the timeline for a decision on the reconsideration motion is no later than June 28, 2013.