TVA’s earnings take a hit

by Wally Northway

Published: November 30,2009

Tags: energy, publicly traded company, utility

NORTH MISSISSIPPI — The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) filed its annual report on Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reporting net income of $726 million for fiscal year 2009 that ended Sept. 30, compared with net income of $817 million for the previous fiscal year.

Total operating revenues for fiscal year 2009 were approximately $11.3 billion, an 8.4-percent increase from fiscal year 2008, while total operating expenses were almost $9.3 billion in 2009, up 13.2 percent from 2008. Although power sales volume declined 7.1 percent from the previous year, operating revenues were higher primarily because of increases in base rates and fuel cost adjustments during the year.

An increase in revenue from municipalities and cooperatives, primarily due to base rate increases effective April 1, 2008, and Oct. 1, 2008, and increases in the fuel cost adjustment, contributed significantly to the $873 million increase in operating revenues in fiscal year 2009. Power sales to directly served industries and federal agencies also contribute to operating revenues.

The economic downturn combined with milder summer weather contributed to the reduction in power sales. Other financial challenges were related to the ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant, coal combustion product facilities at TVA fossil plants, a court ruling in a lawsuit filed by the state of North Carolina requiring TVA to add controls to reduce emissions from several of its coal-fired plants earlier than planned and the funded status of the TVA pension plan.

“TVA faced several significant challenges in fiscal year 2009 that impacted results of operations and our financial condition,” said TVA CFO Kim Greene. “Despite the challenges, TVA also experienced some positive business developments during the year, a decrease in purchased power and natural gas prices, increased hydroelectric generation as drought conditions eased, continued 99.999 percent reliability of the transmission system, and economic development announcements by Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie of plans to invest more than $2.2 billion in capital investments and create an estimated 1,000 jobs in the TVA service area.”

Rainfall during fiscal year 2009 was 103 percent of normal. As a result of higher-than-planned rainfall, TVA was able to increase its low-cost hydroelectric generation by 64 percent over fiscal year 2008 levels.

Estimated expenses for the cost of the clean-up related to the Kingston ash spill range from $933 million to $1.2 billion. The estimate does not include certain costs, such as damages that might be awarded in litigation or fines that might be imposed. The cost of the clean-up will be collected in rates over 15 years. Ash spill clean-up costs incurred through Sept. 30 totaled $231 million.

TVA also made a discretionary $1 billion contribution to its pension fund during fiscal year 2009 as an advance contribution for the years 2010 through 2013.

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