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Calpine narrows fourth-quarter loss

March 15, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Calpine Corp., a power producer that has been operating under Chapter 11 protection since December 2005, said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to $359.4 million from $9.26 billion a year earlier as reorganization costs fell.

The per-share net loss narrowed to 75 cents from $19.32 in the fourth quarter of 2005, the San Jose-based company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sales fell 38% to $1.6 billion as the company shed Canadian operations and other assets.

Gains on the asset sales reduced the fourth-quarter loss by $126.6 million, Calpine said. The company sold a Massachusetts power plant, a stake in a Wisconsin generator, a stake in a California plant project and its European finance unit in the quarter. Write-downs on other assets lowered results by $806,000.

Year-earlier results included $9.5 billion in costs to record creditor claims and write down the value of power plants and other assets.

Calpine filed for bankruptcy protection after fuel costs soared and a glut of generating capacity sent electricity prices lower and reduced demand for the output from the company's group of natural-gas fueled plants, the nation's largest.

Calpine said it expected additional costs for claims, write-downs and reorganization through 2007 as it seeks to exit bankruptcy protection. The company has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to quit money-losing and burdensome contracts and leases.

Two rival power producers, NRG Energy Inc. and Mirant Corp., also reorganized under bankruptcy protection after expanding in the 1990s to compete for sales with former monopoly utilities.

Calpine's average base-load capacity factor, a measure of how much of its generating capacity is idle, fell to 39% in 2006 from 44% in 2005, mostly because mild weather lowered demand for electricity in the first half of the year, the filing showed.

The company owned or leased 85 plants capable of generating 22,322 megawatts at year-end. That's enough for 17.9 million average U.S. homes, based on Energy Department estimates. Gas-fueled plants accounted for 97% of that capacity.

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