The renewables operator is heavily exposed to contracts with bankrupt California utility PG&E.
Clearway Energy Inc. reported a net loss of $47 million for Q1 2019, citing ongoing challenges with the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas & Electric Company and weak renewable energy performance across its portfolio.
The report comes after the company cut its dividend in February in response to PG&E’s bankruptcy. At the time, Clearway said the move offered it “financial flexibility to manage through this period of uncertainty.” In its latest annual report, the company said it “views this action as prudent from a financial perspective” and added that “it has not changed the company’s long-term business strategy.”
Various contracts with PG&E accounted for 23 percent of Clearway’s consolidated revenues in 2018. The two companies have agreements on six solar facilities, with Clearway’s interests totaling 480 megawatts, as well as one gas plant. In a Tuesday call on its quarterly earnings, Clearway said it was working to negotiate forbearance agreements with its lenders for those projects.
“The projects impacted by the PG&E bankruptcy continue to perform, and our dialogue on forbearance with lenders continues to be constructive, albeit a slow process,” said Clearway President and CEO Christopher Sotos, according to a transcript of the call. “While working through the PG&E situation, we continue to drive toward achieving growth in the platform while minimizing capital needs.”
The company maintained its full-year cash available for distribution guidance at $270 million.
Formerly known as NRG Yield, Clearway is among the largest publicly traded owners of renewable energy capacity in the U.S., much of it in California, although not all linked to PG&E.
Sotos said shareholder dividends will remain aligned with the company’s available cash until it gets more clarity on the PG&E situation. The future remains uncertain for Clearway’s renewable energy contracts with the utility, as regulators and the bankruptcy court compete over who has final jurisdiction over whether PG&E can reevaluate them.
In the meantime, Clearway said it will continue to push forward in the segments it can control. It reported growth in its thermal business, with the acquisition of a combined heat and power plant at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the construction of another in Caguas, Puerto Rico, the refinancing of its Tapestry Wind portfolio and investments in two utility-scale solar projects in Hawaii.
Lackluster production on the part of its renewable assets also influenced the company’s quarterly performance, but Clearway executives said that doesn’t necessarily change the outlook for the year.
“Variability in weather is expected over the life cycle of the portfolio, and it’s something we have observed in the company’s past results, including within any given year,” said CFO Chad Plotkin, according to the call transcript.
“While we won’t predict weather for the balance of 2019, 2018 was a good example of this dynamic, with renewable production also below expectations in the first quarter, with a recovery over the balance of the year that was materially close to our median expectations.”