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Duke Energy Corp (DUK), FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) & More: This Week in Utilities: Solar Sales, Coal’s Comeback, and More

From a solar-power project sale to new predictions for coal’s comeback, it’s been a busy week for utilities. Here’s what you need to know to stay current on your dividends’ profits.

Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK)

Duke forecasts sunshine
On Wednesday, Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) announced its purchase of two California solar farms from Germany-based SOLARWORLD AG ADR (PINK:SRWRY). The new acquisitions will add 21 megawatts of solar electricity to its current 61 MW of capacity. Collectively, the two farms will become Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK)’s largest commercial solar farm in the nation, and the company has already arranged a 20-year power purchase agreement with Edison International (NYSE:EIX) .

FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE) plays management musical chairs

Following the retirement of two long-term leaders, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE) announced this week that it’s switching up high-level management in all four of its states’ regulated utilities operations. Although the moves reflect positive promotions throughout, a management makeover of this scale could influence FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE)’s short-term efficiency or long-term strategic direction.

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) silence

After an explosion at The Southern Company (NYSE:SO)‘s coal-fired Plant Bowen forced the facility offline last Thursday, the utility has remained silent on any findings. Southern noted in its initial press release that there were no serious injuries and that the explosion doesn’t present a threat to the local community. In an email correspondence this Thursday, an investor-relations representative noted that The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) will “release more details after our investigation is complete and thoroughly vetted.” Plant Bowen’s 3,160 MW generating capacity represents approximately 7.3% of Southern’s total capacity.

Dog days for natural gas
A new report from the Energy Information Administration predicts a relative drop in natural gas use for electricity generation over the next year. As natural gas prices push higher, the EIA expects natural gas’ share of the generation pie to drop 2.4 percentage points to 28% for 2013. To fill the gap, the EIA expects coal to make a 7.8% comeback this year. Although many utilities with older energy portfolios are celebrating the news, coal-centric

TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:TE) arguably has the most to gain from natural gas’ price increase. Not only does the company’s regulated division rely heavily on coal for 61% of its generation, but the utility also owns and operates Appalachian coal mines.

The article This Week in Utilities: Solar Sales, Coal’s Comeback, and More originally appeared on Fool.com is written by Justin Loiseau.

Fool contributor Justin Loiseau has no position in any stocks mentionedbut he does use electricity. You can follow him on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.The Motley Fool recommends Southern.

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