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.)

Remember Xcel isn’t too happy about the City of Red Wing intervening?  See “Xcel not a happy camper” from last month.

Maybe it’s because Red Wing has a stake in this, as host to Xcel’s Prairie Island nuclear generating plant.

Here we see that in Information Requests in the Prairie Island uprate and dry cask docket at the PUC, the City of Red Wing is asking the right questions:

Information Requests 19-29

Here’s a couple that I find extremely amusing, starting with IR-21:


or this one… IR-22:


and IR-23:


and IR-24:


Yes, we are having fun now.

I wonder… will they give the City of Red Wing a copy of EPRI’s “The TN-24P PWR Spent-Fuel Storage Cask: Testing and Analyses” report?  That’s EPRI report NP-5128.  Let’s see the results of that “Three Stooges” INEL unloading attempt where the assembly got stuck half out, half in, and wouldn’t move… HILARIOUS, I’ve never seen such a rip-snortin’ report, hard to read between the lines without busting a gut!

Once more, it’s David Morris, Institute for Local Self Reliance, telling it like it is.  The PUC process is long over do a complete revamping.  It is based on laws and rules that grew out of the 1970s-1980s transmission fights, and gave people a useful and meaningful way to participate in these proceedings.  But that’s gone, gone with the 2001 changes, gone with the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell, and we’re left with just about nothing.  In other states, there’s Intervenor Compensation which allows Intervenors the ability to pay for expert witnesses, there are free transcripts as a matter of course, and there’s encouragement and support of Intervenors, not a drive to push them out of the process that we see here, that we saw in this CapX proceeding, when the ALJ tried to boot out U-CAN; that we saw in the Excelsior Energy docket (scroll down to “Fourth Prehearing Order”).


David Morris: If it’s citizens vs. utilities, utilities win

The PUC has an approval process that stacks the deck against the public.


Last update: April 23, 2009 – 6:50 PM

A few days ago, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a massive high-voltage transmission project known as CapX that will cost Minnesotans an amount equal to the projected biennial state budget deficit and four times the total bill to taxpayers for the Twins and Gophers stadiums.

With respect to the stadiums, Minnesotans were able to actively participate in the decisions, both directly and indirectly through elected representatives. Both those in favor and those opposed to using tax dollars to pay for the stadiums engaged in a spirited public debate. The Legislature is currently just as vigorously debating ways it can eliminate the budget deficit.

The PUC process, on the other hand, is much more hostile to citizen participation and influence. Indeed, the deck is stacked against the average citizen. Utilities have a virtually unlimited budget to argue their positions — a budget they raise from their ratepayers. Citizens, on the other hand, must raise their own money, and lots of it, to participate effectively.

The rules under which the PUC operates are established by the Legislature. Utility lobbyists are powerful there. But they’re not all-powerful. Thus, over the years, Minnesotans have been able to enact rules to help level the playing field for citizens. For example, the law requires the PUC to reject an application to build a large power plant or a high-voltage transmission line unless the utility proves it is needed to improve reliability or meet increased demand or achieve renewable-energy goals. As part of the application, the utility is expected to thoroughly and completely explore alternatives to its proposal, including no-build options. The burden of proof on whether a project is needed rests with the utilities.

The PUC, regrettably, has interpreted this rule so as to turn it on its head. At the PUC, the burden of proof rests with those opposed to a new power plant or high-voltage transmission line. It is up to the people whose homes and farms may be seized by utilities if a project is approved to make the case for alternatives. Doing so requires an extremely high level of technical expertise. A serious technical and economic examination of alternatives can cost $100,000 to $200,000 or more.

Even if citizens are able to raise that kind of money, they face other hurdles. To analyze alternatives, they must access data that only utilities possess. In many cases, the utilities call that data proprietary and argue that to make the information public is to give a possible advantage to a competitor. One would think that this would be a hard argument to make. After all, Minnesota utilities have a monopoly on the sale of electricity. Apparently, however, it is not a hard argument to make at the PUC.

A formal proceeding, such as a judicial proceeding, involves the cross-examination of witnesses. In many proceedings, utilities again tax their customers by using ratepayer money to acquire a transcript. One would think that since the transcript is in electronic form, the PUC would post it and make it freely available to the public. Astonishingly, the PUC rules state that court reporters own the transcript! Citizens and other intervenors must pay for their own copies of transcripts, which, for controversial projects, could mean $5,000 to $10,000 per copy.

In the recent CapX transmission case, the PUC went one step further in denying citizens. The need for the transmission lines was based in large part on a projection of significantly increasing demand. That projection was largely made in forecasts completed in 2004. It has already proven to be vastly overstated. Moreover, the current economic collapse is translating into shrinking, not growing, electricity demand. Hundreds of citizens asked the PUC to take this new information into account and keep the proceeding open. The PUC decided the current economic free fall doesn’t make a difference.

Utilities are gearing up to ask the PUC to spend billions more for even higher-voltage transmission lines. These will be built to send electricity from the Dakotas to Chicago and New York while running right through Minnesota. If these lines are approved, Minnesotans will probably pay most of the costs, while receiving little if any benefit.

Imagine if legislators proposed taxing us to build a sports stadium in Chicago. The proposal would be dead on arrival. Citizens have influence and even power in the Legislature. The process and rules at the PUC must be redesigned to allow them similar access and influence over energy decisions.

David Morris is vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

First Dog!

April 24th, 2009


Looks like somebody needs a Gentle Leader!

Can you tell I’ve been dealing with mother stuff?  It’s like taking on a part-time job, nearly full time, something every day and sometimes all day.  AAAAAAAAAGH!  So this has been suffering, and there’s a lot of good stuff waiting.  SO, let’s see how the next hour goes and what gets posted…

PJM demand decrease 3.6%

April 16th, 2009

A quick post before heading off to the PUC for more CapX 2020…


A new little birdie sent some delightful PJM info, all about decreased demand, keep in mind, this is 2006-2007, and NOTE IT WAS ALREADY DROPPING THEN.

From FERC – Electric Power Markets PJM:

All time peak demand: 144,644 MW (set August 2, 2006)

Peak demand growth (2006-2007): Peak demand declined 3.6%

2006 2007
Summer Peak Demand (MW) 144,644 139,438
(Source: PJM)

CLICK HERE FOR:  PJM State of the Market – 2008

There, you’ll find PJM State of the Market, Vol. 1 & 2

PJM State of the Market Report Volume 1
Pg 12: “Aggregate supply increased by about 15 MH when comparing the summer of 2008 to 2007 while aggregate peak load decreased by 9,328 MW …”
Pg 22: ” In the Real Time Market in 2008 there were net exports at 16 of PJM’s 20 interfaces …”
Pg 31: “Imports & Exports Net exchange decreased 248.5 MW …..)
Pg 45 : ” Demand … It is not clear why the demand identified in the market solution is consistently less than the demand identified by the system operators.”
Pg 50: discussion on Congestion  & its costs

PJM State of the Market, Vol. 1

PJM State of the Market, Vol. 2