Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) is still reeling from last year's explosion of an Enbridge Inc. natural gas pipeline serving the U.S. Pacific Northwest, according to the utility's CEO, Maria Pope.
Pope said it was important for PGE to assess the effects from last October's explosion on Enbridge's Westcoast Transmission Pipeline. Subsequent maintenance and repair of the pipeline, as well as the greater gas pipeline network in British Columbia (BC), plays a key role for PGE and other power companies in the Pacific Northwest.
"This has long been an issue for electric generation when we have had a lot of very cold weather for long periods of time," Pope said during a conference call with analysts Friday. "The heating load requires extensive use of gas that would not take place during normal temperatures."
PGE is not just concerned about the Enbridge pipeline, but "we're also concerned about the withdrawal rates for Aliso Canyon and the protocols we saw imposed last summer there.
"All of these things are important, not only individually, but when combined with both lower wind and hydroelectric power. The forecast for the balance of the year is much better for hydro in The Dalles, below normal in BC, and slightly above-average on the PGE system, but we're expecting warmer-than-average temperatures and with the higher temperatures comes lower levels of wind generation."
Pope and other PGE executives indicated that operating costs will continue to run high this year. "There are a lot of moving pieces occurring in the marketplace, and they are all interrelated, so it is very difficult to be able to determine what is the exact impact of our gas loads," said CFO Jim Lobdell.
Pope said that this year's colder-than-normal weather drove up PGE's electric load, but it also drove up gas distributors' loads.
PGE reported net income of $73 million (82 cents/share) in 1Q2019, compared to $64 million (72 cents) for the year-ago quarter.