NEW YORK John Bryson, chief executive of Edison International (EIX.N), said on Tuesday the company is ready to build or buy power plants fired by natural gas.
Bryson, speaking at the Reuters Global Energy Summit in New York, added that considering the recent high valuations for generation assets, the company would more likely develop than acquire natural gas projects.
The company is looking at opportunities in the Midwest and California, but "We are less likely to go into a region where we don't have a foundation," Bryson said.
Edison has no plans to invest in any conventional coal-fired power plants. "Coal raises a set of concerns," he said, but the company is exploring "clean" coal projects in Illinois, California and other regions, including a chemical process to capture 90 percent of the carbon in domestic coal.
Asked if Edison was open to selling any of its generation or utility assets, Bryson said: "We like what we have," noting that the company's Southern California Edison utility and its nonregulated business "are performing well."
Looking toward growing energy needs in its Southern California market, Bryson said the SoCalEd utility, the second biggest utility in California, is "guardedly optimistic" it will meet the power demands of its 13 million customers this summer and is in better shape than during the summers of 2005 and 2006.
Longer term, however, the utility has had a setback for a new $545 million transmission project that would deliver energy to the Los Angeles area from Arizona.
A project siting commission at the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state regulatory commission, rejected the transmission plan last week, Bryson said.
Two high-voltage lines would carry 1,200 megawatts of electricity from the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona and was expected to be in service by late 2009.
Some Arizona regulators argued that their state needs the electricity more than their neighbor.
Bryson said the Arizona move "blew us out of the water" and the utility was in the early stage of reviewing the decision and looking at ways for a rehearing or a reversal.
Edison shares were down 1.8 percent, or $1.03, to $57.54 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
(For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)