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A look at Calpine's 26,000-MW portfolio

Calpine Corp. officials in April indicated they were open to selling some or all of the company, hints that were followed up in May by reports that advisers had been retained. "If there is somebody out there, wherever it is, a strategic or anybody else that values the company a lot more than our shareholders do, we will do the right thing," company CEO and President Thad Hill said in late April.

According to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis, the company owns 26,095 MW of operating generation capacity in 18 U.S. states and Ontario. It has divided most of its assets into three geographic regions: West, Texas and East.

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Of the company's owned capacity, 96% is gas-fired. This includes 4,947 MW in California, 9,265 MW in Texas and 9,621 MW in the eastern U.S. and Canada. The company also owns 862 MW of renewables, with 858 MW of geothermal capacity, including what is at The Geysers facility in California, and another 4 MW of solar capacity in New Jersey.

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Calpine also owns 3,153 MW of planned capacity, the majority of which is slated to come online in the eastern U.S. and Canada. Most of the planned capacity, 2,787 MW, is gas-fired. The rest is renewables, with 166 MW of geothermal capacity as well as 200 MW of wind capacity from the Big Blue River Wind Farm proposal in Indiana.

In 2015, the last full year for which complete data is available, the total operation and maintenance expense per megawatt-hour for plants owned by Calpine largely decreased compared to the year before.

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Operation and maintenance costs for Calpine's gas plants in the eastern U.S. and Canada saw a $22.67/MWh drop between 2014 and 2015, falling from $55.50/MWh to $32.83/MWh. Operation and maintenance costs for Calpine's gas plants in Texas and California each fell about $13/MWh. Operating expenses for Calpine's gas plants elsewhere in the U.S. also dropped between 2014 and 2015, by about $8/MWh.

The decrease in operating costs comes with mirrored changes in wholesale power prices, which also showed declines from 2014 to 2015.

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Day-ahead on-peak power prices dropped between 2014 and 2015 and have continued to decline since, though this year they have flattened out. In the eastern part of the U.S., wholesale prices in 2015 averaged $48.91/MWh at ISO New England's H.Internal hub and $43.29/MWh at PJM's Western hub, higher than the Calpine eastern plants' operational costs. In Texas, wholesale prices in 2015 averaged $30.88/MWh at ERCOT's Houston zone, about $9/MWh higher than the Calpine Texas plants' operational costs. At the California ISO's SP-15 in Southern California, 2015 power prices averaged $34.30/MWh, more than $8/MWh higher than the Calpine California gas plants' operational costs.

Through mid-May, wholesale prices for 2017 averaged $36.97/MWh at the .H.Internal hub, $33.70/MWh at the PJM Western hub, $32.17/MWh at ERCOT's Houston zone and $29.36/MWh at SP-15.

About the data

The regional assignments used in this dispatch are based on Calpine's website. The West includes all plants in California, Texas includes plants in Texas, and the East includes all U.S. states east of the Mississippi River and assets in Canada.

The SNL Spot Power Index is compiled by analysts at SNL and includes detailed data submissions from mid- and back offices as well as supporting information from conversations with market participants. You can read more about the power index and its methodology in the SNL help section.

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