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TransAlta Corporation Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

On this morning’s call, Steve will provide an overview of operating results for the quarter. Brian will provide details on our cash flow, depreciation, capital allocation and balance sheet items. And before going to questions-and-answers, Steve will provide commentary and what investors can expect for the balance of 2010 and the recent Memorandum of Understating that were signed between TransAlta and the State of Washington.

With that, let me turn the call over to Steve.

Steve Snyder

Good morning. Our first quarter results reflect the strong operational improvements we have made across our fleet. Our first quarter 2010 comparable earning per share were up $0.31, it’s a significant improvement over the $0.18 achieved a year ago. We also achieved a net earnings of $0.31 per share, compared to $0.21 per share in quarter one of the 2009, again a significant improvement. These gains have been driven primarily by our base operations. There were fewer planned outages in the quarter and substantially fewer unplanned outages.

As a result, for the quarter, we achieved fleet availability of 91.4% compared to 86.4% a year ago. Solid fleet availability was realized with each of our plans individually achieving at or above the targets we presented at Investor Day, last November. On the market side, continued poor market conditions and poor wind resources in January and February did not provide opportunities for us to translate our operating performance into even better earnings.

While some pricing impacts were mitigated through our disciplined contracting strategy, electricity prices remained extremely soft in the quarter. In Alberta, spot prices during the quarter averaged only $41 per megawatt hour, compared to $63 a year ago. This was driven mainly by low natural gas prices, as well as higher availability from our own coal fleet over last year. Pacific Northwest prices also remained soft, although slightly above last year. Average spot prices in the region settled around US$42 per megawatt compared to US$35 last year.

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