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Edited Transcript of POR earnings conference call or presentation 2-Aug-19 3:00pm GMT

Q2 2019 Portland General Electric Co Earnings Call

PORTLAND Aug 8, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Portland General Electric Co earnings conference call or presentation Friday, August 2, 2019 at 3:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Christopher Liddle

Portland General Electric Company - Corporate Finance & IR Manager & Assistant Treasurer

* James F. Lobdell

Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer

* Maria MacGregor Pope

Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Andrew Levi

ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager

* Anthony Christopher Crowdell

Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Research Division - Executive Director

* Gregg Gillander Orrill

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director & Equity Research Analyst of Utilities

* Gregory Reiss

Centenus Global Management, LP - Sector Head of Power and Utilities

* Insoo Kim

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Equity Research Analyst

* Julien Patrick Dumoulin-Smith

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director and Head of the US Power, Utilities & Alternative Energy Equity Research

* Travis Miller

Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Portland General Electric Company's Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Results Conference Call. Today is Friday, August 2, 2019. This call is being recorded. (Operator Instructions).

For opening remarks, I will turn the conference over to Portland General Electric's Director of Investor Relations and Treasury, Chris Liddle. Please go ahead, sir.

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Christopher Liddle, Portland General Electric Company - Corporate Finance & IR Manager & Assistant Treasurer [2]

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Thank you, Michelle. Good morning, everyone. I'm pleased that you're able to join us today. Before we begin this morning, I'd like to remind you that we have prepared a presentation to supplement our discussion which we'll be referencing throughout the call. The slides are available on our website at investors.portlandgeneral.com.

Referring to Slide 2, I would like to remind everyone that some of our remarks this morning will constitute forward looking statements. We caution you that such statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from our expectations. For a description of some of the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, please refer to our earnings press release and our most recent periodic reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q, which are also available on our website.

Leading our discussion today are Maria Pope, President and CEO; and Jim Lobdell, Senior Vice President of Finance, CFO and Treasurer. Following their prepared remarks, we will open the lines for your questions.

Now it's my pleasure to turn the call over to Maria.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [3]

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Thanks, Chris, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to Portland General Electric's Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Call. Today, we will share our financial results, updates on our recently filed Integrated Resource Plan and an overview of our plan to build a new integrated operations center.

Turning to Slide 4. For the second quarter, we recorded net income of $25 million or $0.28 per share, a decrease of $0.23 per share compared to 2018. Given our expectations for the balance of the year, we are reaffirming our 2019 earnings guidance of $2.35 to $2.50 per diluted share. I'll provide a summary of the factors impacting second quarter results and Jim will go into greater detail.

First, net variable power costs were challenging due in part to significantly lower than average hydro production in the Pacific Northwest. As such, our thermal plants increased generation 22% in the second quarter of -- over the second quarter of 2018. Concurrently, California experienced very strong hydro conditions driving down regional power prices and decreasing wholesale revenues.

Second, transmission and distribution operating expenses increased due to an enhanced focus on strengthening the resiliency and reliability of our system.

Turning to Slide 5. The economy in our service area is strong, although immigration has slowed, the labor market remains tight with a 3.5% unemployment rate. Forbes recently reported that Portland jumped in ranking among the top cities for tech talent, reflecting our more cost-competitive market for start-ups when compared with Silicon Valley or Seattle.

This quarter, we continue to see new construction and expansion projects underway across our service area as well as growth in energy deliveries to industrial customers. I'd like to briefly touch on 2019 Oregon legislative session. We worked with a broad group of stakeholders in support of regulating greenhouse gas emissions to a state cap and trade program that ultimately did not pass. In future sessions, we will keep looking with stakeholders towards cost-effective energy and climate policies.

In addition to cap and trade, we successfully supported the bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state's transportation sector and boost the adoption of electric vehicles. We also supported several successful bills targeting energy efficiency and low-income-customer assistance.

Turning to Slide 6. We filed our 2019 integrative resource plan with the Oregon Public Utility Commission last month. Our filing is the product of a collaborative process that reflects transformation within our industry and our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our plan calls for additional cost-effective energy efficiency, expanding reliance on demand response, a 150 average megawatts of renewable resources by 2023, and approximately 595 megawatts capacity needed by 2025, driven by the expiration of contracts and ceasing of coal-fired operations at our Boardman coal plant, offset by the capacity associated with the 150 average megawatts of renewable.

We anticipate an order acknowledging our action plan in early 2020. Similar to our last IRP, we expect to conduct RFPs for renewable resources and will seek opportunities for capacity through bilateral negotiations with existing generators in the region. Given the depth of the market, if we're not able to acquire adequate capacity through these negotiations, we will conduct -- consult, excuse me, with OPUC ad may conduct a second RFP also focused on non-emitting resources.

Finally, turning to Slide 7. I'm excited to announce that this week our Board of Directors approved the construction of the new integrated operations center. This center advances our integrated grid strategy and design for enhanced resilience against seismic, cyber and physical security threats. The capital cost of the new facility is estimated to be $200 million and will be in service by 2021.

And now, I'll turn the call over to Jim. Thank you.

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [4]

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Thank you, Maria. Good morning, everyone. To start, I'd like to provide more detail on the specific drivers Maria mentioned and as summarized on Slide 8.

First, gross margin decreased to total of $0.12 per diluted share. Several factors contributed to this result. While our power supply portfolio performed well, it did not perform as favorable as in 2018. As such, this contributed to an increase in net variable power cost. This was primarily due to the variation in market prices during the first quarter resulting from the Enbridge pipeline outage in addition to lower hydro production, in particular PGE-owned hydro resources in the Mid-Columbia projects resulted in a 13% decrease in production when compared to the second quarter of 2018. Additionally, we experienced lower wholesale revenues due to a 25% decrease in the average wholesale sales price and 26% lower wholesale sales volume. An increase of $0.03 per share is attributable to an increase in earnings powered from our 2019 General Rate Case and weather decreased earnings per share by $0.02 due to a decreased demand from fewer heating and cooling degree days. Next, a decrease of $0.07 is attributable to an increased focus on preventative maintenance to enhance grid resiliency, which drove higher distribution expense in the second quarter. There was particular emphasis on vegetation and wildfire management, overhead and underground system inspections and maintenance along with cybersecurity.

The next item is a decrease of $0.05 from lower production tax credits and finally a net increase of $0.01 from miscellaneous items. Despite some challenges and higher spending, we are confident that we can achieve our earnings objectives. We are revising our O&M guidance upwards to a range of $600 million to $620 million, and we are reaffirming our EPS guidance of $2.35 to $2.50 per diluted share as we expect to see continued improvements in revenues through the balance of the year. We also expect improvements in our net variable power cost as we work towards our forecast of being below the PCAM baseline.

Despite this quarter's increase in operating expenses, mitigating cost increases will be our focus as we plan for the next several years. As such, we are reaffirming our 4% to 6% annual earnings growth guidance that we provided earlier this year.

On Slide 9, we have provided a summary of the company's current capital expenditure forecasts from 2019 through 2023. This includes the costs associated with our integrated operations center that Maria discussed earlier.

On Slide 10, we continue to maintain a solid balance sheet, including strong liquidity and investment-grade credit ratings. For the remainder of 2019, we expect to fund estimated capital requirements with cash from operations and the issuance of debt securities up to an additional $230 million.

And now, operator, we're ready for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of Julien Dumoulin-Smith with Bank of America.

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Julien Patrick Dumoulin-Smith, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director and Head of the US Power, Utilities & Alternative Energy Equity Research [2]

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Just wanted to follow-up on the RFP process here. I know we're very, very early, but I wanted to kind of get a sense. How are you thinking about the ownership angle here and the opportunity before you just sort of thinking about structurally? And what might be different from the last go around in the IRP in which there was at least some amount of award for ownership? And I mean that both to the firm capacity and the renewable piece.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [3]

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Sure. Thank you. So on both, we'll be looking at the option for ownership. At this point in time, we expect the IRP process to be included -- concluded, excuse me, in the first quarter of 2020. There are some public hearings that are already scheduled in January, and then we will move very quickly into RFPs. For the renewables in particular, we're hoping to be able to capture some of the production tax credits before they expire and as such speed will be important. We don't expect any significant differences from how we approached things in the past. On the capacity side, we're going to start off looking really at what we can find in the existing market with regards to bilateral negotiations, RPs for existing resources, all of which are not emitting. Should we not find the depth in the market, then we will go back and work with the commission on putting together further procurement processes.

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Julien Patrick Dumoulin-Smith, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director and Head of the US Power, Utilities & Alternative Energy Equity Research [4]

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Okay. Excellent. And then if I can follow up here just 2 more nuance questions on this process. Historically, there has been a pushback on load and demand forecast. Can you speak a little bit to the forecast that you put that's contemplated in your level of confidence there and perhaps what may have changed around that from the last RFP process? Again, just to firm that up in your view. And then separately and related, I suppose, historically, there's been some degree of pushback on accelerated renewal procurement based on your existing REC balance, if you will. How do you think about that now? And I suppose, there is the obvious counterpoint of the timelines for tax credit expiration. So anyway, any thoughts on either of those?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [5]

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Sure. Thanks, Julien. So with regards to your first question with regards to growth. Just as a backdrop, when we talked about this in previous calls and then also in my remarks. Our service territory has solid growth, and we see that going out into the future, driven largely by immigration, but most importantly in terms of load by the tax sector. And we have had extensive modeling and discussions with stakeholders, including the commission and feel as if we have good consensus around the 1% number that's used in our long-term forecasts. In -- with regards to production tax credit and RECs and timeliness, to move forward faster with regards to procuring renewable resources is very much consistent with what our customers want us to do. It's also, given the production tax credits, it makes sense for us to move forward to capture those. We do not see any of our RECs expiring -- excuse me, our PTCs expiring. And we continue to have cost-effective renewables. The costs in the region are coming down quite significantly, we remain impressed with the competitiveness of the market.

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Operator [6]

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And our next question comes from the line of Insoo Kim from Goldman Sachs.

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Insoo Kim, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Equity Research Analyst [7]

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My first question is on the -- I think your comment on the second quarter O&M focusing on preventative measures on maintenance. Is that stuff items that you would have spent more in the 2020 time period that's a pull forward? Or could you just elaborate a little bit more there?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [8]

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Absolutely. You're correct. And let me let Jim give you some of the details on that.

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [9]

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Yes, Insoo. We're -- as we mentioned, we're focused on vegetation management, wildfires and then the inspection of the system. So we are trying to make sure that we are making investments now that will help us lower our operating costs in the future and that's another reason why we are reaffirming our 4% to 6% long-term growth rate.

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Insoo Kim, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Equity Research Analyst [10]

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Understood. And then separately, the couple of hundred million of the operations center that you have in the capital plan, I assume it will earn AFUDC during the construction period. Have you had discussions, I know it's recent, but with the regulators at all? Or what's the process around trying to get recovery of that and timing of that in relation to the timing of the next REC that you have contemplated prior -- previously?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [11]

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You are correct that AFUDC is being calculated during the construction period associated with it. And we have had preliminary conversations with stakeholders associated with that facility and the importance of having that facility if we're going to be able to respond from a resiliency perspective. So we will make a determination as we move through time as to the regulatory timing of the recovery of the costs associated with that. So it's to be seen.

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Operator [12]

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And our next question comes from the line of Gregg Orrill with UBS.

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Gregg Gillander Orrill, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director & Equity Research Analyst of Utilities [13]

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With regard to the change in the O&M guidance, how much of that have you already spent versus just coming up in the year, your view?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [14]

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A good part of it has already been spent.

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Operator [15]

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And our next question comes from the line of Travis Miller with Morningstar.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [16]

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Going back on the IRP. In your initial conversations and planning for the filing, could you give us a sense of that 2022 and 2023 CapEx number? That $500 million. How much of that is dependent on the IRP? How much -- is there a range? Is it all upside if you were to get certain parts of the IRP? Just wonder if you could characterize the early parts of the IRP conversations relative to that $500 million kind of run rate CapEx number?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [17]

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Thank you for the question. None of the IRP or any subsequent RFP capital is reflected in that $500 million run rate. That $500 million run rate reflects a number of things. It reflects investment in ongoing resiliency and maintenance of our system upgrades. It also reflects the fact that our service territory is growing quite significantly, and so we have new capital investment to meet customer needs. Anything that might come from an ownership or otherwise options out of the IRP or subsequent RFPs would be an addition.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [18]

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Okay. Do you have any idea that you can give us in terms of a range of that? Or would it be the cost of a single large project? Is that the way to think about it?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [19]

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You could look at single large projects. We've included some 2018 cost numbers in the actual IRP filing for a wide variety of resources, which range from solar, wind to geothermal pump storage. It's all included in the document in terms of what were market estimates in 2018.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [20]

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Sure. Okay. And then higher level, what is your view in your service territory with respect to corporate renewable energy purchases? Maybe characterize that. And then risks, opportunities, challenges that you have as corporate renewable energy buyers come onto your system?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [21]

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Yes. That's an excellent question. We certainly are seeing an increase in interest not only from large corporations, particularly high-tech and digital companies, but also from our municipalities for 100% green energy products. And we've been working with them for over a year and have structured some, what we call, Green Futures Program that has been hugely well received actually and selling out in a matter of minutes. Let me have Jim Lobdell go over the phases of that, that we've done, and it's really been a very successful program for us.

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [22]

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Yes. Travis, as Maria had pointed out, we had a very robust response to Phase 1 of what we call our Green tariff, and we are now working with stakeholders on Phase 2 associated with that. So looking at expanding the program, what about ownership by the company of resources, what about the ability to earn on any PPAs that come in. So we're getting testimony from the parties and then we're looking for a decision associated with that by year-end. But as we've pointed out, it's been a very robust response. Our corporations, our customers are willing to step up to green up their portfolios.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [23]

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Is there a rate-based opportunity there? Or any kind of capital or earnings growth type investments that's available there?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [24]

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It's to be seen. We've got more process that we need to go through.

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Operator [25]

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And our next question comes from the line of Andrew Levi with ExodusPoint.

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [26]

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Okay. So I just want -- there was a slide that you had where you showed the first 2 quarters and then you had the third and fourth quarter combined, I think it was like $1.25 to $1.40. Could you kind of just go over that and in detail explain what the drivers for the third and fourth quarter are? Because I guess what you're trying to suggest is that you'll kind of be in the -- I guess the midpoint would be like $2.42 in that $1.25 to $1.40 range.

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [27]

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Well, you're referring to Slide #4 in the presentation.

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [28]

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Yes. Yes. Because I think the concern is I was kind of looking at the stock action today. Stock is down like 2% and the group's kind of -- there's lot of weird -- not weird, some good stuff happening today, but not in your stock. So I think it would be important for you to explain in detail how you kind of make your number? Well, let's just use the midpoint, the $2.42 of that $1.25 to $1.40 range for the rest of the year, if you could explain that to us so we could have comfort in that.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [29]

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Yes. Sure.

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [30]

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So I'm just going to focus on the going forward. We know what the history is in the first half of the year, and the question is what about achieving the earnings guidance that we've put out at the beginning of the year. As I've mentioned previously, as Maria had mentioned, we've got a lot of strong growth that's occurring in the service territories, especially in the high-tech sector around manufacturing and around data centers and continue to see growth in a lot of other commercial activities. I mean it's hard to get around Portland because of the amount of construction that's going on in our service territory. So we're seeing a lot there. We had decoupling that is going to cover any offsets associated with use per customer. We've got a continued strong growth in customer count. So that's contributing to it. We pointed out, we are operating our power costs in line. We're trying to get below the PCAM baseline, and we are working on costs now that will help us reduce costs in the future. Again, we're taking a long-term view as far as our overall cost structure. And then in addition to that, there's some geography that's going on inside the income statement from top line to O&M expenses such as we had terminated some long-term service agreements associated with one of our thermal facilities. So we ended up putting that in the balancing account. In addition to that, we had a storm in the first quarter that also present some geography. So while overall expenses are up, they're not up as much as you would otherwise read into it by just looking at the wrong number. So as we've pointed out, we are focused on reaching our earnings guidance that we've provided for the year and for the long term.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [31]

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And let me just reiterate Jim's point in that, in the Pacific Northwest, we can see weather fluctuations, particularly hydro, winds, customer usage can affect quarter-to-quarter results. But long term, we expect that the investments that we're making in our system will lower our overall costs and bear fruit and our confidence in our guidance range.

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [32]

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Just on the mention of this balancing account relative to I guess the power plant, was that in the first quarter or the second quarter?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [33]

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No. It was in the second quarter.

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [34]

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Okay. And how much was that?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [35]

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So anyone -- there's a bunch of items moving back and forth that put -- our puts and takes into the entire quarter. And as we look forward, we're -- we've given guidance on what our full O&M ranges will be and we're expecting...

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [36]

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Wait, let me ask in another way because the way that you guys tend to do things sometimes, you're very -- you don't really have adjusted earnings, you kind of throw everything in. So in the second quarter whether it's the balancing account, can you tell us how many things were kind of onetime in nature that won't reoccur next year? And I'm not talking about hydro conditions or anything like that. But whether it's this balancing account or anything else that you kind of threw in there that affected the quarter in a negative way?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [37]

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Andy, there's a lot of moving pieces in that. And it takes a long time to go through to provide an adequate explanation associated with all those items. If you'd like to spend some time with Chris and Peter on that, they'd be more than willing to provide you that clarity.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [38]

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We look at the balance of all of our costs incurred and as we're managing them going forward.

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [39]

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All right. But I guess what I'm trying to ask is were there some onetime costs in nature in the second quarter. We don't know how much they are, I'll have do that with Chris, but just in general, were there some onetime negative costs beyond having to run your plants because of hydro conditions?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [40]

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Yes. Yes. There were, and we've factored those in into our forecasts going forward.

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Andrew Levi, ExodusPoint Capital Management, LP - Portfolio Manager [41]

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Okay. And then just on the second half, can you just categorize, are you -- just overall, are you trending towards the low end of the range, the midpoint of the range, high end of the range for the year?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [42]

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I can't provide you that guidance.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [43]

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We appreciate the questions though. Thank you.

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Operator [44]

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And our next question comes from the line of Gregory Reiss with Centenus.

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Gregory Reiss, Centenus Global Management, LP - Sector Head of Power and Utilities [45]

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Can you guys hear me?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [46]

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Yes.

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Gregory Reiss, Centenus Global Management, LP - Sector Head of Power and Utilities [47]

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Okay. Great. Sorry. I want to just try on what Andy was just getting at right here. Looking at just kind of where you came in for the first half of the year and then the implied step up to kind of get to the midpoint of the range, it's about $0.19 in the second half of the year. And just looking at how the rate case is coming in, it's about $0.03 a quarter. So that should get you to about $0.06. So just wanted to get a little more color on that kind of incremental $0.13 and where that really comes from? Is it net variable power costs? Is it some other items that maybe we're not aware of that are expected to occur in second half?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [48]

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Yes. No, I appreciate the question, Greg. Yes, we were mentioning to Andy and as we'd stated in the -- our prepared remarks, it really gets to -- we're expecting increased revenues, especially the high-tech sector. We're expecting continued strong customer growth across. We are very diligently working on our power costs and getting them down below the baseline, and as I pointed out, we've got efforts around O&M expenses for the balance of the year, and we did have some onetime items in the first quarter of the year. So a combination of all those items plus a bunch of cats and dogs will get us to where we've got confidence in our full year guidance.

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Gregory Reiss, Centenus Global Management, LP - Sector Head of Power and Utilities [49]

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Got you. And it also sounded like you guys pulled forward some 2020 expenses into 2019. Is it safe to say that you would've had to have some pretty good, I guess, insights into how the balance of the year would shake out in order to be able to kind of pull forward some expenses and then still reaffirm the guidance range?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [50]

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Yes. That's correct.

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [51]

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Yes. That's a fair assessment.

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Operator [52]

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And our next question comes from the line of Anthony Crowdell with Mizuho.

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Anthony Christopher Crowdell, Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Research Division - Executive Director [53]

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Most of my questions have been answered. Just if I could jump on Greg and Andy's question. Is there an estimate that you guys have provided for the benefit of growth on a year-over-year basis?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [54]

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No. We haven't provided that, Anthony, sorry.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [55]

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Long term, we're still expecting 1% growth, and in our near-term forecasts, we have just about 0.5%. To date, we've seen...

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Anthony Christopher Crowdell, Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Research Division - Executive Director [56]

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But you haven't quantified if that's $0.05 a year or anything like that?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [57]

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No. We haven't, Anthony.

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Operator [58]

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And our next question comes from the line of [Kevin Phelan] with Citadel.

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Unidentified Analyst, [59]

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I just wanted to ask on the potential savings in the second half on the net variable power costs. You guys are $6 million above the baseline to the first half. Is there any way to quantify where you think that could be in the second half? I think you've said you're targeting below -- it's a benefit, so you're getting at least $6 million back?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [60]

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No. Kevin, all I'll say is that we're anticipating being below the baseline for the full year.

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Unidentified Analyst, [61]

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Just a follow-up on that then. Is it something that you have to see how the market conditions play out? Or is -- do you have a fairly high degree of confidence with where you're heads right now that it's far more -- or far less variable than just seeing what occurs over the next 6 months?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [62]

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Yes. We're just looking at where the power markets are today. What we're anticipating will happen for the rest of the year given the current conditions. And we're forecasting that we think that we'll see improvements in our power costs.

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Unidentified Analyst, [63]

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Okay. And just in general in terms of the guidance overall, is there anything in the first half results or with the O&M increase that moves you in terms of your assumption where you've thought you were going to be in the range coming into the year? Are these things that are adjustments of where you thought you were going to be in the year wherever that was going to be?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [64]

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Some of these are timing adjustments as Jim's gone through. Some of these are investments that we pulled forward. Some of them are onetime items, but we're looking at the balance of the year, and we may reiterate our guidance, but we're not providing any additional insights as where we are within that guidance.

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Unidentified Analyst, [65]

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Okay. And just the last thing for you on the Green tariff on the Phase 2, what's the timeline for some clarity on whether you guys will be able to invest there or not?

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James F. Lobdell, Portland General Electric Company - Senior VP of Finance, CFO & Treasurer [66]

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I believe, Kevin, that we should have an answer on Phase 2 by the end of the year.

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Operator [67]

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(Operator Instructions) We do have a follow-up question from the line of Julien Dumoulin-Smith with Bank of America.

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Julien Patrick Dumoulin-Smith, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Director and Head of the US Power, Utilities & Alternative Energy Equity Research [68]

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Just -- not to pile on too much, but curious again about the acceleration of costs and obviously, the IOC with respect to confidence on earnings ROEs in subsequent years. I know in the past you've talked about perhaps a little bit more of a distance between rate cases at present. I mean is this going to be read between the lines with respect to the ability to earn your ROEs? And I understand that you're accruing AFUDC through the construction period as well as the higher O&M in '20. Again, I don't want to get too far ahead. I know there's onetime items and different weather variability consistently here but perhaps just opine a little bit more on a go-forward basis on confidence level to hold the line on a rate case?

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [69]

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Sure. So Julien, our confidence level isn't any different this quarter than it was before. Underlying our businesses is very strong. As Jim has mentioned and we've discussed quite a bit, we had a number of onetime items and pulled forward some important expenses to address in the second quarter. We feel confident in our guidance and no changes in our ability to earn our ROE or our plans with regards to rate case timing. The IOC, or the operations center is an important project that we've been working on for over a year and a half, and have spent a lot of time talking with stakeholders. It will be located in Tualatin, just south of here, in an area of seismic stability, and it will include a number of our really important 24/7 operations, our balancing authority, power marketing trading, distributive resource management, all of our cyber and physical securities. It will really be a modern center that will allow us also to be able to manage our distribution system in a more integrated fashion, which is heavily supported by stakeholders and the commission as we move forward. So we look forward to being able to continue to talk with parties and to be integrated around this quarter.

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Operator [70]

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And I'm showing no further questions at this time. And I would like to turn the conference back over to Ms. Maria Pope for any further remarks.

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Maria MacGregor Pope, Portland General Electric Company - President, CEO & Director [71]

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Great. Thank you all for joining us today. And please join us in October when we report our third quarter 2019 results. And for those of you attending the Goldman Sachs Conference in August or the Barclays Conference in September, we look forward to seeing you at both of those conferences. Thank you very much.

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Operator [72]

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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today's conference. This does conclude the program, and you may all disconnect. Everyone, have a great day.