NRG Energy's alternative energy division drags on figures

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The onset of commercial operations at the huge Agua Caliente and California Valley Solar Ranch photovoltaic projects failed to mitigate disappointing second quarter results for the Alternative Energy division of U.S. energy company NRG Energy Inc.

The April-to-June report, released today, announces the commercial operations of 278 MW at Agua Caliente, making it the U.S.’ biggest operating PV project, according to 51 per cent stake holders NRG, even before the final 12 MW come online early next year.

The California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) has 127 MW in operation with the remaining 123 MW due by the end of the year and NRG predicts all the units of its 378 MW Ivanpah solar project will be complete by the end of the year.

In June, NRG announced commercial operations of two projects totalling 40 MW, acquired from Recurrent Energy, at Kansas South and TA-High Desert and last month NRG agreed to construct, own and operate a 26 MW scheme on Guam and announced plans for a 6 MW rooftop at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center in Las Vegas.

AE quarterly losses widened

Those solar projects, however, could not prevent a widening of quarterly losses to US$29 million for the Alternative Energy (AE) division of the company, from the $14 million lost from April to June 2012.

The half year figures paint a similar story with AE – including wind farm – losses for the first six months widening from $29 million to $55 million year on year.

Solar did at least contribute to the improved performance of the company’s NRG Yield infrastructure investment division, which underwent a successful IPO last month.

With solar projects at Avra Valley, Alpine and Borrego coming online in December, January and February, respectively, NRG Yield saw quarterly net income leap to $33 million from a $1 million loss a year earlier with a first half income of $40 million, up from just $4 million a year earlier.

The relatively small proportion of alternative energy in the NRG Energy portfolio was reflected by the net income figures for the parent company, which has taken a big hit this year from an ‘unseasonably mild’ summer in Texas, which has meant less air conditioning and is sufficient for NRG to rein in its 2013 forecasts.

For the second quarter, the parent company’s profits came in to $130 million from $251 million a year earlier and amounted to a January-June loss of $198 million, compared to a $44 million profit for the first six months of 2012.