Tag Archives: bankrupt

Carbon bubble? Solar and wind erode coal, gas, and biomass credit quality —Moody’s

In Europe it’s already happening: solar and wind are causing bond-rater Moody’s to warn of downgrades of energy companies that depend on heat from burning coal, gas, or biomass. Moody’s earlier even warned the Bank of England of a potential carbon bubble developing. If combustion energy plants are affected like this, the credit effects will be even bigger on even-more-expensive nuclear plants, which Moody’s called a bet-the-farm risk way back in 2009.

James Murray wrote for businessGreen 6 Nov 2012, Moody’s: Renewables boom poses credit risk for coal and gas power plants: Credit ratings agency warns increases in renewable power have had ‘a profound negative impact’ on the competitiveness of thermal generation companies,

“Large increases in renewables have had a profound negative impact on power prices and the competitiveness of thermal generation companies in Europe,” said Scott Phillips, an assistant vice president and analyst at Moody’s Infrastructure Finance Group, in a statement.

“What were once considered stable companies have seen their business models severely disrupted and we expect steadily rising levels of renewable energy output to further affect European utilities’ creditworthiness.”

And not just rising, rising increasingly Continue reading

Exit strategy for when this big nuclear bet goes bad? –John S. Quarterman @ SO 2012-05-23

At Southern Company’s (SO) shareholder meeting, I enumerated some examples in the U.S., Japan, and Germany of nuclear gone bad, and pointed out Japan, Germany, and even Bulgaria had already or were getting out of nuclear, while Southern Company and Georgia continued to bet the farm on nuclear, and I asked what was SO’s exit strategy for when that bad bet goes bad? SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning said they had learned everything there was to learn from Fukushima, and besides Plant Vogtle is 100 miles inland where there are no earthquakes. He didn’t mention the same description applies to Chernobyl. He did say SO planned to make the U.S. nuclear industry the best in the world.

You kept using big bets and then bet the farm. Very interesting terminology.

Um, the title of SO’s corporate biography that SO was giving out in the lobby in paper, video, and audiobook formats is Big Bets: Decisions and Leaders That Shaped Southern Company. And ‘nuclear’s “bet-the-farm” risk’ is, as I mentioned, bond-rater Moody’s phrase.

He said the new Plant Vogtle units were planned for $14 billion and 10 years to build, and

…it is a big investment.

He said a company to do such a thing needed scale, financial integrity, and existing credibility of operations.

Scale seems to me a problem, since SO seems deadset on building mainframes in a networked-tablet world.

SO’s nuclear financial track record is that four nuclear plants were originally planend for Plant Vogtle at a cost of $660 million and only two were built at a cost of $8.87 billion. The new units at Plant Vogtle are already overbudget by almost a billion dollars. The Georgia Power bonds that SO CEO Fanning mentioned: aren’t they guaranteed by the $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee?

Regarding operations credibility, a year ago Vogtle Unit 1 shut down 2 days after the NRC gave Vogtle a clean bill of health. But the SO CEO says it’s all better now.

Here’s the video, followed by links to sources for the points I made:

Exit strategy for when this big nuclear bet goes bad? –John S. Quarterman
Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO),
Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012.
Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).

Here are the main points I was reading from, with links:

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