FPL Group Says Earnings are on Target

FPL Group Inc. last week said that it expects to meet consensus earnings per share estimates of $0.76 for the first quarter of 2001, excluding expenses of about $30 million related to its failed merger attempt with Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. (see NGI, April 9). FPL Group will announce its latest earnings results on April 20.

The Florida company, meanwhile, indicated it will pursue a regional role on its own, announcing plans for its FPL Energy LLC subsidiary to build, own and operate a 624 MW, natural gas-fired power plant in northeastern Alabama. There also are reports the company is in talks to construct and oversee operation of a 500 MW power plant at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier in Louisiana.

The new power plant in Alabama's Calhoun County, with the capacity to power approximately 500,000 homes, will sell most of its power under contract to Alabama Power Co., a Southern Co. subsidiary. Construction of the simple-cycle combustion turbine peaking facility is slated to begin later this year, with an expected completion date of summer 2003.

As for its home state, the FPL utility, Florida Power & Light (FP&L) in a report recently filed with state regulators projected a 20% generating reserve margin for this summer, more than adequate to serve its customers. The annual report filed with the Florida Public Service Commission outlines new FP&L plants entering service this year, in construction and nearing completion, or planned for the future. The plan also details purchases of power and demand side management and conservation programs.

Florida Power & Light said that the 10-year period of 2001-2010 calls for an increase in capacity resources of 33%, all using natural gas. During that same timeframe, the FP&L utility expects to add about 700,000 customers. A major difference in this year's estimates from those made last year is an increase from three to six in the number of new power plants it estimates will be needed as a result of increased customer growth and usage, along with the expiration of certain power purchase contracts by the end of the decade.

For this year, FP&L disclosed that 1,200 MW of the utility's generation is newly in service or will be in time for this summer. Going forward, the utility said that by the end of 2003, another 1,450 MW of new generating capacity, currently under construction, will enter service.

By the middle of the decade, FP&L expects to convert peaking units at its Fort Myers and Martin County power plants to natural gas-fired, combined cycle generators. The company also plans to add two more generating units at the Martin plant site and another on FP&L property at the Midway site in St. Lucie County.

Florida Power & Light said that its current planning studies have identified five new combined cycle units as the preferred options to address future growth in demand at the end of the decade. At the same time, the company noted that repowering of existing Florida Power & Light sites or new power purchases remain options.

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