Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Lauds PG&E for Huge New Solar Initiative

Well, local utility PG&E (remember writing out Pigs, Giraffes and Elephants as the payee when making your monthly payment, back when we still used checks? Good times) had a big, big news conference today about solar power projects – that should help them meet state requirements regarding renewable energy.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approves of this trend, anyway. And it’s a shot in the arm for the photovoltaics (PV) industry. Read on for more deets and selected quotes.

Here’s what it looked like this morning, with PG&E Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President Peter Darbee and Senior Vice President of Energy Procurement Fong Wan making the announcement: 

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PG&E Launches 500 Megawatt Solar Power Initiative

Utility-Owned and Independent Projects Would Speed Customer Access to Cleaner Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced plans for a five-year program to develop up to 500 megawatts (MW) of clean solar photovoltaic (PV) power in its northern and central California service area, one of the largest undertakings of its kind in the country.

The proposed program consists of up to 250 MW of utility-owned PV generation – PG&E’s first direct investment in renewable generation in over a decade – and an additional 250 MW to be built and owned by independent developers under a streamlined regulatory process. PG&E is submitting its plan today to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval, which could come later this year.

If all projects are up and running by 2015, they are expected to deliver more than 1,000 gigawatt hours of power each year, equal to the annual consumption of about 150,000 average homes. In all, this program would meet over 1.3 percent of PG&E’s electric demand.

“I applaud PG&E for its commitment to making a direct investment in clean, renewable solar energy generation that will eventually power tens of thousands of California homes,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “By bringing renewables online as quickly as possible and advancing the development of green technologies, this effort will advance California’s aggressive push to meet our long-term energy and climate change goals while keeping California on the leading edge of this booming industry.”

“This program represents an unprecedented commitment of our capital and expertise to speed the delivery of clean, renewable energy to our customers,” said PG&E CEO and President Peter Darbee. “With many renewable-energy projects delayed, we can’t afford business as usual when it comes to protecting the environment and meeting our customers’ expectations.”

More deets after the jump

PG&E’s solar program targets mid-sized projects, typically one MW to 20 MW, mounted on the ground or rooftops, within its service area. Where feasible, projects developed and owned by PG&E would be built on land already owned by the utility or near its substations to minimize the cost and delays of interconnecting them to the power grid.

Projects developed by independent parties would be offered a standard contract and pricing derived from the utility’s own costs to streamline review of their applications.

Since 2002, PG&E has entered into contracts for more than 20 percent of its future electric power deliveries from renewable sources. On average, more than 50 percent of the electricity PG&E delivers to its customers comes from generating sources that emit no carbon dioxide, making the company’s energy among the cleanest in the nation.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in northern and central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/about/.

Support for PG&E’s Solar PV Program

Sue Kateley, Executive Director, California Solar Energy Industries Association: “We’re pleased that PG&E is providing significant additional resources to promote the development of solar power in California. Its commitment to solar energy, and its thoughtful balance of utility and privately owned projects under this program, will help ensure continued growth of this market in California, benefitting suppliers, workers and the environment. We look forward to working side-by-side with PG&E to make solar a leading renewable energy resource in the Golden State.”

Julia Hamm, Executive Director, Solar Electric Power Association: “PG&E has long stood out in front of its utility peers as a leader in solar electricity. The new 500 MW initiative is just the latest example of the company’s commitment to diversifying its electricity portfolio in an intelligent way.”

Sheryl Carter, Energy Program Co-Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: “We must maximize clean energy solutions like energy efficiency and renewable energy development of all sizes to meet our economic and environmental challenges.  PG&E’s intent for development of these projects – on already developed land close to transmission and distribution – is exactly where it needs to be to reduce environmental impacts and speed development.”

 

PG&E Corporation Reports 2008 Results; Reaffirms Guidance for 2009

- PG&E Corporation’s consolidated net income reported under GAAP was $1.34 billion, or $3.63 per share, for the year ended December 31, 2008, compared with $1 billion, or $2.78 per share, in 2007. All per- share amounts are presented on a diluted basis.

- Consolidated net income reported under GAAP for the 2008 fourth quarter was $517 million, or $1.37 per share, compared with $203 million, or $0.56 per share, in the same quarter of 2007.

- Net income for the year and quarter ended December 31, 2008 was increased substantially by the benefits of a multi-year tax settlement, the proceeds of which will help fund utility capital investments by subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

- Guidance for 2009 earnings from operations is reaffirmed at $3.15 to $3.25 per share.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — PG&E Corporation’s (NYSE:PCG) consolidated net income for the year ended December 31, 2008 reported in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), was $1.34 billion, or $3.63 per share, compared with $1 billion, or $2.78 per share, in 2007. Per-share earnings on a GAAP basis in 2008 include income from a settlement of 2001-2004 tax audits, totaling $257 million or $0.68 per share.

On a non-GAAP earnings from operations basis, which excludes the benefits of the tax settlement, PG&E Corporation’s results in 2008 were $2.95 per share, compared with $2.78 per share in 2007.

For the fourth quarter of 2008, PG&E Corporation’s consolidated net income was $517 million, or $1.37 per share, reflecting the benefits of the tax settlement. This compares with $203 million, or $0.56 per share, in the same quarter of 2007. On a non-GAAP earnings from operations basis, PG&E Corporation’s results in the fourth quarter of 2008 were $0.70 per share, compared with $0.56 per share in the fourth quarter of 2007.

The year-over-year increase in earnings from operations primarily reflects earnings from higher authorized capital investments in utility infrastructure and energy efficiency incentive revenues, partially offset by higher expenses due to storm-related outages, natural gas system maintenance activities, and the extended outage to replace the steam generators at one unit of the Diablo Canyon nuclear generating facility.

“Our results for 2008 were in line with our commitments to investors and continue to support our longer-term earnings growth targets,” said Peter A. Darbee, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation. “Looking ahead, we are confident that we are well positioned to continue making the needed investments to strengthen energy reliability and services for our customers.”

Earnings Guidance

PG&E Corporation reaffirms guidance for 2009 earnings from operations in the $3.15-$3.25 per share range. Guidance assumes that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (Utility) maintains a ratemaking capital structure of 52 percent equity, that it maintains its California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)-authorized return on equity of 11.35 percent and achieves at least a 12 percent return on equity on its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission jurisdictional assets, while growing its asset base in line with its forecast, that it earns sufficient incentive revenues for energy efficiency achievements with an anticipated CPUC decision before the end of 2009, and that the Utility realizes planned operational and cost efficiencies.

Guidance excludes three anticipated items impacting comparability forecast to total between $0.05 and $0.11 per share. The three items are: expected benefits of a settlement of refund claims for the 1998 and 1999 tax years that are anticipated to be finalized this year; forecasted recovery of hydroelectric divestiture costs incurred by the Utility in 2000 and 2001 in connection with the proposed divestiture of its hydroelectric generation facilities; and forecasted costs to accelerate the completion of natural gas system integrity surveys and associated remedial work. When added to earnings from operations, the net effect of these items impacting comparability results in 2009 GAAP earnings per share guidance of $3.20 to $3.36.

PG&E Corporation discloses historical financial results and bases guidance on “earnings from operations” in order to provide a measure that allows investors to compare the underlying financial performance of the business from one period to another, exclusive of items that do not reflect the normal course of operations. Earnings from operations are not a substitute or alternative for consolidated net income presented in accordance with GAAP (see the accompanying financial tables for a reconciliation of results and guidance based on earnings from operations to results and guidance based on consolidated net income in accordance with GAAP).

 Supplemental Financial Information
 – In addition to the financial information accompanying this release, an
    expanded package of supplemental financial material will be furnished
    to the Securities and Exchange Commission and also will be available
    shortly on PG&E Corporation’s website (www.pgecorp.com).

 February 26 Investor Conference
 – PG&E Corporation senior management will provide an overview of the
    business and discuss the company’s strategic focus, capital spending
    plans and multi-year financial outlook at its upcoming Investor
    Conference with members of the financial community on Thursday,
    February 26, 2009 in New York City. The public may view the event via
    simultaneous web cast beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at
    (www.pgecorp.com/investors/investor_info/conference/index.shtml).
    Because the meeting so closely follows today’s earnings announcement,
    PG&E Corporation will not hold its regular quarterly conference call.

 
This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding management’s guidance for PG&E Corporation’s 2009 earnings per share from operations that are based on current expectations and various assumptions that management believes are reasonable. These statements and assumptions are necessarily subject to various risks and uncertainties, the realization or resolution of which may be outside of management’s control. Actual results may differ materially. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include:

 – the Utility’s ability to manage capital expenditures and its operating
    and maintenance expenses within authorized levels;
 – the outcome of pending and future regulatory proceedings and whether
    the Utility is able to timely recover its costs through rates;
 – the adequacy and price of electricity and natural gas supplies, and the
    ability of the Utility to manage and respond to the volatility of the
    electricity and natural gas markets, including the ability of the
    Utility and its counterparties to post or return collateral;
 – the effect of weather, storms, earthquakes, fires, floods, disease,
    other natural disasters, explosions, accidents, mechanical breakdowns,
    acts of terrorism, and other events or hazards on the Utility’s
    facilities and operations, its customers, and third parties on which
    the Utility relies;
 – the potential impacts of climate change on the Utility’s electricity
    and natural gas businesses;
 – changes in customer demand for electricity and natural gas resulting
    from unanticipated population growth or decline, general economic and
    financial market conditions, changes in technology, including the
    development of alternative energy sources, or other reasons;
 – operating performance of Diablo Canyon, the availability of nuclear
    fuel, the occurrence of unplanned outages at Diablo Canyon or the
    temporary or permanent cessation of operations at Diablo Canyon;
 – whether the Utility can maintain the cost savings it has recognized
    from operating efficiencies it has achieved and identify and
    successfully implement additional sustainable cost-saving measures;
 – whether the Utility incurs substantial expense to improve the safety
    and reliability of its electric and natural gas systems;
 – whether the Utility achieves the CPUC’s energy efficiency targets and
    recognizes any incentives the Utility may earn in a timely manner;
 – the impact of changes in federal or state laws, or their
    interpretation, on energy policy and the regulation of utilities and
    their holding companies;
 – the impact of changing wholesale electric or gas market rules,
    including new rules of the California Independent System Operator
    to restructure the California wholesale electricity market;
 – how the CPUC administers the conditions imposed on PG&E Corporation
    when it became the Utility’s holding company;
 – the extent to which PG&E Corporation or the Utility incurs costs and
    liabilities in connection with litigation that are not recoverable
    through rates, from insurance, or from other third parties;
 – the ability of PG&E Corporation, the Utility, and counterparties to
    access capital markets and other sources of credit in a timely manner
    on acceptable terms, especially given the recent deteriorating
    conditions in the economy and financial markets;
 – the impact of environmental laws and regulations and the costs of
    compliance and remediation;
 – the effect of municipalization, direct access, community choice
    aggregation, or other forms of bypass;
 – the impact of changes in federal or state tax laws, policies, or
    regulations; and
 – other factors and risks discussed in PG&E Corporation’s and the
    Utility’s 2008 Annual Report on Form 10-K and other reports filed with
    the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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