It’s reflected in the Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly’s most recent report:

Electric Power Monthly April 2009

It’s not just Xcel, we knew that, but here’s a report on American Electric Power, it’s down down down:

UPDATE: American Electric Earnings Down

Amid Falling Demand

(Updates throughout with comments from American Electric chief executive and analyst, additional background.)

By Mark Peters

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–American Electric Power Co. (AEP) reported a 37% drop in first-quarter net profit as an insurance settlement and higher rates couldn’t offset declines in electricity demand.

American Electric, one of the nation’s biggest electricity generators and providers with more than 5 million customers in 11 states, has the largest U.S. transmission network. That makes the company, centered in the Midwest, a front-line victim of falling electricity use that began late last year as the country’s economic woes deepened.

The company sees industrial demand falling 15% as paper manufacturers, metal producers and other large customers slow and shut operations. Overall, utility earnings in the first quarter fell 16% on lower sales and higher costs. American Electric also faces an ongoing drop in the sale of power to other utility systems, with profits from excess electricity sales slumping 62%.

The company did benefit from higher rates in several jurisdictions and insurance payments related to a fire at its Cook Nuclear Plant.

American Electric reported net income on Friday of $360 million, or 89 cents a share, compared with $573 million, or $1.43 a share, a year earlier as the company benefited from a prior-year legal gain of 41 cents.

Revenue was flat at $3.5 billion as domestic retail electricity demand fell 6.5%. Wholesale sales tumbled 42%.

The mean estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters was for earnings of 81 cents and revenue of $3.77 billion.

The Columbus, Ohio, company reaffirmed its guidance for the year of between $2.75 and $3.05 a share. Last month, American Electric had cut guidance, while recently raising some $1.5 billion through a stock sale that boosted shares outstanding nearly 15%.

“We continue to believe that AEP’s relative discount to the group is unwarranted and remain buyers of the shares,” wrote JPMorgan utilities analyst Andrew Smith in a note to clients Friday.

Shares of American Electric recently traded up 0.5% at $26.28.

Looking Ahead: Economic Rebound, Transmission Growth

American Electric executives told analysts during a meeting in New York City Friday that earnings growth will accelerate with a rebound in the U.S. economy in the near term and as much as $15 billion in possible transmission-line projects further out. The two factors could fuel earnings growth of 4% to 8% instead of the current projection of 2% to 4%, said Mike Morris, chairman and chief executive of American Electric.

During an interview after the meeting, Morris said the struggle in off-system sales is driven by demand declines, and the low price of natural gas is not cutting into sales from American Electric’s coal plants. But the company – which shares a portion of the revenue from sales with customers, unlike deregulated power producers – is seeing power-sales margins shrink amid slumping electricity prices and higher coal costs.

At the same time, Morris said American Electric will look to develop additional renewable energy generation, but only if regulators push for it. He continues to see the possibility of national reliability problems if more fossil fuel generation isn’t built.

Federal policy will be crucial for the transmission projects, with Morris seeing growing support for the federal government – not state commissions – to site projects and set their returns. If these rules change, Morris said there is plenty of capital ready to invest in projects.

As for a federal cap on greenhouse gas emissions, Morris said he doesn’t expect Congress will pass a cap-and-trade system until next year. He said Democrats in Congress still need to build support among their own members, let alone Republicans.

Democratic leaders “are going to have to solve some of these equations,” Morris said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is holding hearings this week on a wide-ranging climate change and energy bill that will likely become the blueprint for congressional and administration policy efforts.

-By Mark Peters, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-4604;

(Kevin Kingsbury contributed to this report.)

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