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TransCanada Earnings Fall on Sagging Power Revenues

Continuing economic sluggishness weighted down TransCanada Corp.'s power revenues, resulting in net income of C$345 million (C50 cents/share) for 3Q2009, an 11.6% decline compared with C$390 million (C67 cents/share) in 3Q2008, the Calgary-based company said last Wednesday.

Earnings were ahead of the prior-year period for TransCanada's pipelines and natural gas storage assets, CEO Hal Kvisle said during a conference call with analysts. TransCanada's energy segment reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of C$204 million in 3Q2009 compared with C$302 million in 3Q2008.

Progress continues on the refurbishment and restart of Bruce A nuclear Units 1 and 2 in Bruce County, ON, with work now advanced to the reassembly of the reactors, Kvisle said. Last year TransCanada said the cost to refurbish and restart the units would be C$3.1-3.4 billion. By the end of September Bruce A had incurred approximately C$3.1 billion in costs for the refurbishment and restart of the units, Kvisle said. TransCanada believes that the work on Units 1 and 2 is now approximately 75% complete, with the bulk of the highly technical, high-risk work now finished. Although a significant amount of work remains to be done, most of this work is conventional power plant construction activity. The project has experienced delays and TransCanada now expects that Unit 2 will be restarted mid-2011, with Unit 1 expected to follow approximately four months later.

In July Bruce Power -- a partnership of TransCanada, Cameco Corp. and BPC Generation Infrastructure Trust -- withdrew its site license applications and suspended environmental assessments for nuclear reactors it had proposed in Bruce County and Nanticoke, ON, choosing instead to focus on the refurbishment of the existing Bruce A and B units. The decision was made based on Ontario's declining electricity demand and had no impact on Bruce Power's plans for new nuclear facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

At the end of the third quarter TransCanada was awarded a 20-year contract to build, own and operate the 900 MW Oakville Generating Station in Oakville, ON, by the Ontario Power Authority. The plant is scheduled to begin producing power by the end of 2013. The company expects to invest approximately C$1.2 billion in the gas-fired combined-cycle plant.

TransCanada's pipelines business reported EBITDA of C$475 million in 3Q2009 compared with C$469 million in 3Q2008.

The TransCanada Alaska Co. LLC (TC Alaska) natural gas pipeline is on target to complete an initial open season by the end of next July, according to a recent report by Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) coordinator Mark Myers (see related story). In a report to the Alaska legislature, Myers said efforts to advance the $26 billion project received "a significant boost" in June when ExxonMobil signed on to TransCanada's plan, which has been ratified by the state (see NGI, June 15). The joint efforts of TransCanada and ExxonMobil will result in increased pre-open season spending of $83-150 million, according to Commissioner Tom Irwin of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources.

TransCanada's storage business reported EBITDA of C$45 million in 3Q2009 compared with $31 million in 3Q2008.

TransCanada's board of directors on Wednesday declared a quarterly dividend of C38 cents/share.

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