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    TA TransAlta loses $80-million in Q2


    August 5, 2022 - Canada StockWatch

     

      TransAlta Corp (TSX:TA)

      Shares Issued 270,732,834

      Last Close 8/4/2022 $14.61

      Friday August 05 2022 - News Release

      Mr. John Kousinioris reports

      TRANSALTA REPORTS SECOND QUARTER 2022 RESULTS

      TransAlta Corp. has released its financial results for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022.

      "TransAlta delivered solid second quarter results for 2022. Our Alberta Electricity Portfolio performed as anticipated, despite higher natural gas prices and compressed market heat rates, demonstrating the value of our strategically diversified fleet in Alberta and its ability to generate cash flow under dynamic market conditions. Our Alberta Wind and Hydro segments led our results, benefiting from the higher pricing environment and stronger production. Our Alberta Gas segment had limited opportunity to benefit from higher power prices realized in the market as it was highly hedged during the quarter," said John Kousinioris, President and Chief Executive Officer. "The contributions from our new contracted assets at Windrise and North Carolina Solar and the exceptional results in our Energy Marketing segment further supported our financial results for the quarter as we continue to track towards the midpoint of our 2022 guidance."

      Set out below are additional highlights from the quarter on TransAlta's business activities, including the Company's progress on advancing its Clean Electricity Growth Plan as well as details regarding the Company's financial performance and liquidity.

      Key Business Developments

      Kent Hills Wind Facility Outage Update

      On June 2, 2022, TransAlta Renewables announced its rehabilitation plan for the Kent Hills wind facilities together with the execution of amended and extended contracts with New Brunswick Power Corporation ("NB Power") in respect of each of the Kent Hills 1, 2 and 3 wind facilities providing for an additional 10-year period to December 2045 and an effective 10 per cent reduction to the original contract prices from January 2023 through December 2033. In addition, both parties have agreed to work in good faith to evaluate the installation of a battery energy storage system at Kent Hills and to consider a potential repowering of Kent Hills at the end of life in 2045. The Company also obtained a waiver for the Kent Hills wind non-recourse bonds ("KH Bonds") from the project bond holders and entered into a supplemental indenture with the bond holders that facilitates the rehabilitation of the Kent Hills 1 and 2 wind facilities.

      Horizon Hill Wind Project and Fully Executed Corporate PPA with Meta

      On April 5, 2022, TransAlta executed a long-term renewable energy PPA with a subsidiary of Meta Platforms Inc. ("Meta"), formerly known as Facebook, Inc., for 100 per cent of the generation from its 200 MW Horizon Hill wind project to be located in Logan County, Oklahoma. Under this agreement, Meta will receive both renewable electricity and environmental attributes from the Horizon Hill facility. The facility will consist of a total of 34 Vestas turbines with construction expected to begin in late 2022 and a target commercial operation date in the second half of 2023. TransAlta will construct, operate and own the facility. Total construction capital is estimated between US$290 million and US$310 million and is expected to be financed with a combination of existing liquidity and tax equity financing. Over 90 per cent of project costs are fixed under executed turbine supply agreements and engineering, procurement and construction agreements. The project is expected to generate average annual EBITDA between US$27 million and US$30 million, inclusive of production tax credits.

      Sarnia Cogeneration Facility Contract Extensions

      During the second quarter of 2022, the Company executed contract extensions for the supply of electricity and/or steam with the remaining three of its industrial customers at the Sarnia cogeneration facility. These agreements will extend the delivery term for electricity and/or steam from Dec. 31, 2022 to April 30, 2031, in one case, and to Dec. 31, 2032, for the other two, with all agreements being subject to certain conditions, including the Company entering into a new contract with the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (the "IESO"). The current contract with the IESO, in respect of the Sarnia cogeneration facility expires on Dec. 31, 2025. On July 19, 2021, the IESO released its Annual Acquisition Report, which included draft details for medium- and long-term procurement mechanisms for capacity for 2026 and beyond for existing and new generation. The Company has bid into the procurement process developed by the IESO and is seeking to secure a contract extension for the Sarnia cogeneration facility following the end of the current contract term. The Company expects the IESO to announce the successful bids in the third quarter of 2022.

      Mount Keith 132kV Transmission Expansion

      On May 3, 2022, TransAlta Renewables exercised its option to acquire an economic interest in the expansion of the Mount Keith 132kV transmission system in Western Australia, to support the Northern Goldfields-based operations of BHP Nickel West ("BHP"). Total construction capital is estimated at between AU$50 million and AU$53 million. Southern Cross Energy, a subsidiary of the Company, has entered into an engineering, procurement and construction agreement for the expansion. The project is being developed under the existing PPA with BHP, which has a term of 15 years. It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023 and will generate annual EBITDA in the range of AU$6 million to AU$7 million. The project will facilitate the connection of additional generating capacity to our network to support BHP's operations and increase their competitiveness as a supplier of low-carbon nickel.

      Executed Long Term PPA for Remaining 30 MW at Garden Plain

      During the second quarter of 2022, the Company entered into a long-term PPA for the remaining 30 MW of renewable electricity and environmental attributes at the Garden Plain wind project in Alberta with a new investment-grade globally recognized customer. The 130 MW Garden Plain wind project, which was announced in May 2021 with a 100 MW PPA contracted to Pembina Pipeline Corporation ("Pembina"), is now fully contracted with a weighted average contract life of approximately 17 years. Construction is underway with a target commercial operation date in the second half of 2022.

      Customer Update at White Rock Wind Facilities

      During the second quarter of 2022, TransAlta identified Amazon Energy LLC ("Amazon") as the customer for the 300 MW White Rock Wind projects, to be located in Caddo County, Oklahoma. On Dec. 22, 2021, Amazon and TransAlta entered into two long-term PPAs for the supply of 100 per cent of the generation from the projects. Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2022 with a target commercial operation date in the second half of 2023.

      Energy Impact Partners ("EIP") Investment

      During the second quarter of 2022, The Company has entered into a commitment to invest US$25 million over the next four years in EIP's Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund 1 (the "Frontier Fund") that will invest in early-stage, innovative technology companies that will accelerate the transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. TransAlta's investment in the Frontier Fund provides the Company with the opportunity to identify, pilot, commercialize and bring to market emerging technologies that will support its decarbonization goals.

      MSCI Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") Rating Upgrade

      During the second quarter of 2022, TransAlta's MSCI ESG Rating was upgraded to 'A' from 'BBB'. The upgrade reflects the Company's strong renewable energy growth compared to peers. In 2021, the Company grew its installed renewable energy capacity by 15 per cent through acquisition and construction of solar and wind facilities and secured 600 MW in additional renewable energy projects. In line with its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75 per cent from 2015 emissions levels by 2026, TransAlta also completed coal-to-gas conversions of its Canadian coal-fired facilities in 2021, nine years ahead of Alberta's coal phase-out plan.

      Court of Appeal Upholds TransAlta's Favourable Force Majeure Arbitration Decision

      On June 9, 2022, the Alberta Court of Appeal released a unanimous decision dismissing ENMAX Energy Corporation's and the Balancing Pool's application seeking to set aside an arbitration decision in favour of the Company. The Court of Appeal upheld the Company's claim of force majeure that arose when its Keephills 1 generating unit tripped offline in 2013. As a result of the decision, the Company's claim of force majeure remains valid and the associated costs of the force majeure event will not be reassessed against TransAlta.

      TSX Acceptance of Normal Course Issuer Bid

      On May 24, 2022, the Toronto Stock Exchange ("TSX") accepted the notice filed by the Company to renew its normal course issuer bid ("NCIB") for a portion of its common shares. Pursuant to the NCIB, TransAlta may repurchase up to a maximum of 14,000,000 common shares, representing approximately 7.16 per cent of its public float of common shares as at May 17, 2022. Purchases under the NCIB may be made through open market transactions on the TSX and any alternative Canadian trading platforms on which the common shares are traded, based on the prevailing market price. Any common shares purchased under the NCIB will be cancelled. The period during which TransAlta is authorized to make purchases under the NCIB commenced on May 31, 2022 and ends on May 30, 2023, or such earlier date on which the maximum number of common shares are purchased under the NCIB or the NCIB is terminated at the Company's election.

      The NCIB provides the Company with a capital allocation alternative with a view to ensuring long-term shareholder value. TransAlta's Board of Directors and Management believe that, from time to time, the market price of the common shares does not reflect their underlying value and purchases of common shares for cancellation under the NCIB may provide an opportunity to enhance shareholder value.

      During the six months ended June 30, 2022, the Company purchased and cancelled a total of 1.4 million common shares at an average price of $12.50 per common share, for a total cost of $18 million.

      Conversion Results for Series C and D Preferred Shares

      On June 16, 2022, the Company announced that 1,044,299 of its 11,000,000 currently outstanding Cumulative Redeemable Rate Reset First Preferred Shares, Series C ("Series C Shares") were tendered for conversion, on a one-for-one basis, into Cumulative Redeemable Floating Rate First Preferred Shares, Series D ("Series D Shares") after having taken into account all election notices following the June 15, 2022 conversion deadline.

      TransAlta Debuts New Brand Reiterating Commitment to a Clean Energy Future

      On June 20, 2022, the Company announced a new visual identity including logo and tagline "Energizing the Future". The new visual identity encapsulates the TransAlta of today while reinforcing the Company's focus as a leader in creating a carbon-neutral future for our customers.

      Liquidity and Financial Position

      The Company continues to maintain a strong financial position in part due to long-term contracts and hedged positions. At the end of the second quarter, TransAlta had access to $1.9 billion in liquidity, including $0.9 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

      Accelerated Clean Electricity Growth Plan

      On Sept 28, 2021, the Company announced the strategic targets associated with its Clean Electricity Growth Plan.

      As of August 4, 2022, the Company has made significant progress in achieving the targets of the Clean Electricity Growth Plan. Refer to Strategy and Capability to Deliver Results in the Company's Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) for further details.

      During the second quarter, the Company added 325 MW to its renewable development pipeline across Canada and the United States.

      Second Quarter Financial Results Summary

      Adjusted EBITDA(1) for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022 decreased by $40 million and $103 million, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2021. The decrease in second quarter financial performance relative to the prior year was driven by changes in market conditions and the positioning of the Company's Alberta Electricity Portfolio. This was partly offset by exceptional performance in the Energy Marketing segment from short-term trading of both physical and financial power and gas products.

      Earnings before income taxes for the three months ended June 30, 2022 decreased $94 million compared to the same period in 2021. For the six months ended June 30, 2022 earnings before income taxes increased by $127 million compared to the same period in 2021.

      Net loss attributable to common shareholders for the three months ended June 30 2022 was $80 million compared to a net loss of $12 million in the same period of 2021. Loss before income taxes and net loss attributable to common shareholders in the three months ended June 30, 2022, increased primarily due to lower revenues and higher fuel and purchased power costs, partially offset by lower carbon compliance costs, reversal of asset impairment charges impacted by the increase in discount rates, lower OM&A, recognition of insurance related to the replacement costs for a tower at the Kent Hills facility and liquidated damages recognized related to turbine availability at the Windrise wind facility. The previous period was impacted by higher gains on sales with the sale of Pioneer Pipeline in the second quarter of 2021.

      Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the six months ended June 30, 2022, increased by $148 million to net earnings of $106 million compared to a net loss of $42 million in the same period in 2021. Earnings before income tax and net earnings attributable to common shareholders in the six month period ended June 30, 2022, increased primarily due to reversal of asset impairment charges impacted by the increase in discount rates, lower carbon compliance costs, lower depreciation, lower OM&A and recognition of insurance related to the replacement costs for a tower at the Kent Hills facility and the liquidated damages recognized related to turbine availability at the Windrise wind facility partially offset by lower revenue and higher fuel and purchased power costs. The previous period also was impacted by higher gains on sales with the sale of Pioneer Pipeline in the second quarter of 2021.

      Cash flow from operating activities for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022 decreased by $209 million and $15 million respectively compared with the same periods in 2021, primarily due to lower cash flows resulting from lower production and lower revenues within all segments except for the Wind and Solar segment. In addition, for the three months ended June 30, 2022, operating cash flows decreased with an unfavourable change in working capital; whereas, for the six month period ended June 30, 2022, operating cash flow increased as a result of favourable working capital changes. The change in working capital for the three and six months ended, June 30, 2022 is primarily due to movements in our collateral accounts related to high commodity prices and volatility in the markets.

      FCF(1) for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022 decreased by $10 and $43 million respectively compared with the same periods in 2021, driven primarily by lower adjusted EBITDA, partially offset by higher realized foreign exchange gains and a decrease in sustaining capital spending related to fewer planned maintenance turnarounds. Alberta Electricity Portfolio

      The spot power price increased to $122/MWh and $106/MWh for the three and six months ending June 30, 2022, respectively, from $105/MWh and $100/MWh compared to the same periods in 2021, mainly as a result of a higher natural gas prices. However, the power price per MWh of production realized by the Company decreased by $9 and $3 per MWh, respectively, compared with the same periods in 2021.

      The Alberta Electricity Portfolio generated gross margin of $168 million and $332 million during the three and six months ended June 30, 2022, a decrease of $73 million and $89 million, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2021. Gross margin was negatively impacted by lower weather-driven demand and a better supplied market in 2022. Ancillary services revenue from the Hydro segment was lower in both periods as a result of lower ancillary prices driven by increasing competition in the ancillary services market. In addition, the Gas and Energy Transition segment results were impacted by lower production due to unit retirements and higher dispatch optimization in response to lower market heat rates. A significant portion of the portfolio was hedged below spot prices, which was partially offset by our favourable gas hedge positions and lower carbon costs. The decrease in gross margins were partially offset by higher gross margins in the Wind and Solar segment mainly due to higher production and higher realized prices.

      Hedged production for the balance of 2022 is 3,063 GWh at an average price of $76 per MWh.

      Segment Results

      Hydro: Adjusted EBITDA for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022 decreased by $8 million and $24 million, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2021, primarily due to weaker ancillary service realized prices in the Alberta market driven by increased participants and supply into the ancillary services market as a result of higher gas prices, as well as higher OM&A costs due to increased insurance premiums.

      Wind and Solar: Adjusted EBITDA for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022, increased by $33 million and $46 million, respectively, compared to the same period in 2021, primarily due to higher production, higher realized merchant pricing in Alberta, higher environmental attribute revenues and recognition of liquidated damages related to turbine availability at the Windrise wind facility, partially offset by an increase in transmission rates. The three and six month periods in 2021 included a one-time reimbursement as a result of the AESO transmission line loss ruling.

      Gas: Adjusted EBITDA for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022 decreased by $59 million and $60 million, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2021. The decreases were primarily due to lower production, higher natural gas prices and increased natural gas consumption, partially offset by lower carbon costs. The three and six months ended June 30, 2021, were additionally impacted by the unplanned short-term steam supply outages at the Sarnia cogeneration facility. Carbon costs in the period were lower as the facilities in the segment no longer operate on coal. The Company utilized 0.7 million tonnes of emission credits to settle the 2021 carbon compliance obligation, reducing our carbon compliance costs by $7 million in the period. In addition, during the three months ended June 30, 2022, adjusted EBITDA was negatively impacted by lower realized prices in Alberta resulting from hedging activities. Finally, for the six month period ended June 30, 2022, we realized lower legal fees related to the South Hedland PPA dispute settlement.

      Ene rgy Transition: Adjusted EBITDA for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022, decreased by $14 million and $25 million compared to the same periods in 2021. The decrease is primarily due to the retirements of Keephills Unit 1 and Sundance Unit 4 and higher purchased power costs incurred due to higher power prices during the planned outage at Centralia in 2022, partially offset by higher production at Centralia and lower carbon costs in Alberta. Carbon costs were lower as the Alberta facilities in the segment no longer operated on coal and have now been retired. The Company utilized 0.5 million tonnes of emission credits to settle the 2021 carbon compliance obligation, reducing our carbon compliance costs by $5 million in both the three and six months ended June 30, 2022.

      Energy Marketing: Adjusted EBITDA for the three and six months ended June 30, 2022 increased by $7 million and decreased by $31 million, respectively, compared to the same period in 2021. The higher gross margin for the three months ended June 30, 2022, was due to short-term trading of both physical and financial power and gas products across all North American markets. The Energy Marketing team was able to capitalize on short-term volatility in the markets in which we trade without materially changing the risk profile of the business unit. For the six months ended June 30, 2022, results exceeded expectations due to favourable trading of both physical and financial power and gas products across all North American markets. The higher revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2021 were due to exceptional short-term volatility in the market.

      Corporate: Our Corporate overhead costs for the three months ended were in line with expectations and consistent with the prior period. Corporate overhead costs for the six months ended June 30, 2022 increased by $9 million compared to the same period in 2021. The increase was the result of the total return swap on our share-based payment plans partially offset by the receipt of CEWS funding in the first quarter 2021.

      Conference call

      TransAlta will hold a conference call and webcast at 9:00 a.m. MST (11:00 a.m. EST) today, August 5, 2022, to discuss our second quarter 2022 results. The call will begin with a short address by John Kousinioris, President and CEO, and Todd Stack, EVP Finance and Chief Financial Officer, followed by a question-and-answer period for investment analysts and investors. A question-and-answer period for the media will immediately follow.

      Dial-in numbers - Second Quarter 2022 Results:

      Toll-free North American participants call: 1-888-664-6392

      A link to the live webcast will be available on the Investor Centre section of TransAlta's website at https://transalta.com/investors/presentations-and-events. If you are unable to participate in the call, the instant replay is accessible at 1-888-390-0541 (Canada and USA toll free) with TransAlta pass code 715647 followed by the # sign. A transcript of the broadcast will be posted on TransAlta's website once it becomes available.

      TransAlta is in the process of filing its unaudited interim Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes, as well as the associated Management's Discussion & Analysis ("MD&A"). These documents will be available August 5, 2022 on the Investor Centre of TransAlta's website at www.transalta.com or through SEDAR at www.sedar.com and EDGAR at www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.

      About TransAlta Corporation:

      TransAlta owns, operates and develops a diverse fleet of electrical power generation assets in Canada, the United States and Australia with a focus on long-term shareholder value. TransAlta provides municipalities, medium and large industries, businesses and utility customers with clean, affordable, energy efficient and reliable power. Today, TransAlta is one of Canada's largest producers of wind power and Alberta's largest producer of hydro-electric power. For over 111 years, TransAlta has been a responsible operator and a proud member of the communities where we operate and where our employees work and live. TransAlta aligns its corporate goals with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and its climate change strategy with CDP (formerly Climate Disclosure Project) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. TransAlta has achieved a 61 per cent reduction in GHG emissions since 2015.

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