Tag Archives: disruptive

Southern Company missed earnings: weather and Kemper Coal and nuclear Plant Vogtle

SO CEO Tom Fanning continued to blame slow sales and earnings on mild weather (air conditioners running less), but the big boondoggle going bad is Kemper Coal, which has slipped six months from May 2014 to Q4 2014, and even the Wall Street Journal calls it “possibly the most expensive fossil-fuel power plant ever built in the U.S”. How bad will SO’s stock tank when SO’s even more expensive nuclear Plant Vogtle slips even more? Dividends can’t prop up SO’s share price forever, not when PSCs are revolting against the rate hikes and guaranteed profit hikes that prop up those dividends. When will Southern Company and Georgia Power get out front and lead in solar and wind power? Before or after the public, state public service commissions, and investors make them do it?

Justin Loiseau wrote for DailyFinance 4 November 2013, Southern Company Earnings: A $5 Billion Blunder? Continue reading

Nuke overruns already causing distributed solar in south Georgia

People are tired of irresponsible trash government at the state level colluding with monopoly utilities to hold Georgia back in distributed solar power, and some of us are doing something about it; you can, too.

Jigar Shah wrote for SaportReport 15 September 2013 Solar more viable as Georgia’s new nuclear power plants face overruns,

I am seeing Georgia’s nuclear financial woes starting to prompt a boon for distributed energy including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, low-impact hydro, high efficiency cogeneration, and other sources of electricity.

Biomass? Let’s not go back to that carbon-polluting forest-destroying factory-exploding waste of time and resources. Solar, wind, efficiency, and conservation are the main events, with solar increasingly leading the pack. And those nuke cost overruns are already driving solar up even faster: Continue reading

SO’s plan to make the Southeast a net exporter of the energy from solar and wind? –John S. Quarterman @ SO 2013-05-22

SO CEO Tom Fanning didn’t budge from nuclear and coal, but he did announce a tiger team to get on top of distributed solar and wind through a smart grid, headed by SO’s COO, at the 22 May 2013 Southern Company Stockholder Meeting.

Next question --Tom Fanning Mr. John S. Quarterman from Lowndes County, Georgia, and he holds 220 shares of Southern Company.

TF: Hello, John. Good to see you again this year.

jsq with SO fade jsq: Hi. I’ve come to compliment Tom Fanning and Paul Bowers. Last year, Tom Fanning was so persuasive I ran out and bought $10,000 worth of stock.

TF: Bless you. [Applause]

However, apparently because of SO’s admission a few minutes before in that same meeting that it was going to have to eat Kemper Coal cost overruns, SO stock tanked that same day, causing my stock to stop out, and Standard & Poor’s downgraded SO the following day because of Kemper Coal, noting that if the same thing happened with SO’s nuclear project at Plant Vogtle, S&P’s would probably Continue reading

Privatize TVA? Southern Company would like that

The hydropower assets of the Tennessee Valley Authority would give Southern Company a way to avoid doing distributed solar for a while. Will SO CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers bit the bullet and go straight for distributed solar instead of helping Duke privatize TVA for a short-term stopgap that would set both of them farther behind the disruptive solar curve?

SolarCity and Southern Company stock
Blue line: SCTY; red line: SO, chart by Google Finance.
May 16th: Goldman Sachs invested $500 million in SCTY.
May 22nd: SO stockholder meeting.
May 24th: S&P downgrades SO.

Wes Patoka wrote for Motley Fool 24 May 2013, Who Benefits the Most if the TVA Is Privatized,

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SolarCity disrupting utilities in Massachusetts; how about Georgia?

Why is great big Southern Company afraid of tiny SolarCity? Look at these 2.6KW of solar panels on a house in Bedford, Massachusetts. Think about much more sun in Georgia, financed by Google and Goldman Sachs, turning into votes for solar power. Big coal and nuclear boondoggles already don’t look so attractive anymore to investors.

By Giles Parkinson wrote for Reneweconomy on 9 October 2012, SolarCity’s big challenge: Prove that energy bills can fall,

A 2.6kW SolarCity installation in Bedford, Massachusetts SolarCity sees the traditional utilities as their biggest competition. “We compete with them on price, predictability of price and the ease by which customers can switch to electricity generated by solar systems,” it says.

“We have disrupted the industry status quo by providing renewable energy directly to customers for less than they are currently paying for utility-generated energy. Unlike utilities, we sell energy with a predictable cost structure that does not rely on limited fossil fuels and is insulated from rising retail electricity prices. As retail prices for electricity increase and distributed solar energy costs decline, our market opportunity will grow exponentially.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Anthony Kim said the SolarCity filing could be a “game-changing moment for the solar industry” because it shows “how plummeting component costs benefit a company operating on the downstream side of the solar business.”

That article was posted before SolarCity’s stock went public, and before Goldman Sachs invested half a billion dollars in SolarCity. Six months later, we know Southern Company and Georgia Power are paying attention, because both SO CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers said so at the Southern Company stockholder meeting.

-jsq

Electric utiltiies know about Moore’s Law for solar power

And they know compound annual growth, even at a low 22% rate, is going to cause them a heap of trouble.

More from the Edison Electric Institute January 2013 report, Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business,

The decline in the price of PV panels from $3.80/watt in 2008 to $0.86/watt in mid-20121. While some will question the sustainability of cost-curve trends experienced, it is expected that PV panel costs will not increase (or not increase meaningfully) even as the current supply glut is resolved. As a result, the all-in cost of PV solar installation approximates $5/watt, with expectations of the cost declining further as scale is realized;

Sure, costs won’t continue to drop forever, but Continue reading

Solar could burn utility business model

Exhibit 2 Utilities say that like it’s a bad thing. The same utilities that left millions without power in the U.S. repeatedly last year, and that gouge ratepayers for 10% or more profits. Moore’s Law continues to drive solar costs down and installations up, with increasingly more each like compound interest. Utilties need to adapt or get out of the way.

Last November Moody’s reported that solar and wind were eroding credit for coal and gas power plants, and were already having ‘a profound negative impact’ on the competitiveness of thermal generation companies. That was in Europe. David Roberts wrote for Grist yesterday, Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities,

The thing to remember is that it is in a utility’s financial interest to generate (or buy) and deliver as much power as possible. The higher the demand, the higher the investments, the higher the utility shareholder profits. In short, all things being equal, utilities want to sell more power. (All things are occasionally not equal, but we’ll leave those complications aside for now.)

And they want to produce that power from big baseload power stations for their economy of scale while the monopoly power utilities get guaranteed profits, not to mention huge ratepayer and loan-guaranteed boondoggles like the new nukes at Plant Vogtle. (Electric Member Cooperatives are somewhat different.)

Now, into this cozy business model enters cheap distributed solar PV, which eats away at it like acid.

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