The power industry will undergo a “very significant” restructuring “that will yield enormous growth opportunities for us as a company,” Mark Jacobs, CFO at Reliant Energy, told an audience of financial professionals last Tuesday at the Banc of America Energy and Power Conference. “I think those growth opportunities may come more quickly than we’re all expecting,” Jacobs said.

“Today, our principal focus is on getting our own house in order in terms of becoming a highly efficient company, having all those processes that support efficient delivery of power to end-use customers and getting the balance sheet in order,” Jacobs noted.

As far as timing, the Reliant official sees significant growth opportunities “still probably a year or two, or three away for our company.”

Jacobs also praised the direction of California’s power market. “We’re very encouraged by what we’ve seen out in California,” he told the conference. “I think Gov. Schwarzenegger certainly seems to be committed to competitive markets and all signs that we see are he’s taking the right steps to build competitive markets,” the Reliant CFO said.

“California — from what two or three years ago looked like a place you didn’t want to do business — today is certainly, in our opinion, much more attractive as a place where we may prospectively want to put additional assets in the future,” Jacobs said.

These remarks echo similar comments recently made by the CEO of California-based Calpine Corp. California has become a “very, very healthy market” again, and Calpine is “well-positioned” to take advantage of it, Calpine CEO Peter Cartwright said during a third quarter conference call with financial analysts earlier this month.

Reliant posted a profit in its most recent third quarter, with earnings of $120 million (37 cents/share), compared to a loss in 3Q2003 of $790 million (minus $2.68). Excluding special items, the adjusted income from continuing operations would have been $149 million (45 cents/share) from $253 million (86 cents) a year ago.

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