President and Chief Executive Officer at PPL
Thank you, Andy. And good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us for our first quarter investor update. Moving to Slide 3 and the agenda for today's call, I'll begin this morning with highlights of our first quarter performance and an update on the status of our planned acquisition of Narragansett Electric in Rhode Island. Joe will then provide a detailed review of first quarter financial results. And as always, we'll leave ample time for your questions.
Turning to Slide 4. Today, we announced first quarter reported earnings of $0.37 per share. Adjusting for special items, first quarter earnings from ongoing operations were $0.41 per share compared with $0.28 per share a year ago. These results were in line with our expectations and provide a strong start to the year as we remain focused on repositioning PPL for long-term growth and success.
Moving to Rhode Island, we received approval in late February from the Rhode Island division of Public Utilities and Carriers to acquire Narragansett Electric from National Grid. In its detailed decision, the division found that PPL met the statutory standard for approval. The Rhode Island Attorney General's office appealed the division's order to the state's Superior Court and obtained a stay of the approval until the appeal could be heard. On April 26th, the superior court heard oral arguments on the Attorney General's appeal.
The Attorney General contends that the division misapplied the statutory standard for approval and in particular, the state's public interest requirement. The Attorney General also contends that the division failed to adequately consider Rhode Island's act on climate in its analysis decision. We disagree and believe the extensive record and evidence in this case, demonstrate that the division properly applied the statutory standard and correctly approved the transaction. At the April 26th hearing, the Attorney General's office asked Judge Stern to remand the matter back to the division with instructions to address the issues raised by the Attorney General.
The Attorney General's office did not ask the judge to reverse or vacate the decision. We anticipate Judge Stern will issue a decision on the appeal relatively soon, because he publicly stated that a quick and timely resolution of this matter is in the best interest of all parties. In the meantime, we are actively engaged in settlement discussions with the Attorney General's office and remain prepared to close promptly with National Grid.
As we've shared all along, we are eager and excited about the opportunity to work with the talented team at Narragansett Electric to drive significant value for Rhode Island customers and support the state's decarbonization efforts. We continue to believe Narragansett Electric is an excellent fit for PPL and that PPL is an excellent fit for the state of Rhode Island. We remain confident that we will reach a positive outcome in the proceeding. Given the pending litigation, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time. And I have said all I can say about this matter on today's call. I appreciate you respecting the process when we get to the Q&A session.
Turning to Slide 5 and a few operational highlights. Our Kentucky Utilities continue to seek opportunities to advance clean energy options and support Kentucky's growing economic development. In late February, LG&E and KU joined the state's new Hydrogen Hub initiative, which focuses on making hydrogen a low-carbon solution for the future. The initiative is part of a new energy strategy announced last fall by Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.
LG&E and KU's commitment to promote hydrogen supports a key pillar of PPL's clean energy strategy, which is to drive digital innovation and R&D to enable new technologies. The commitment is also consistent with our sponsorship of EPRI's Low-Carbon Resources Initiative, and LG&E and KU's partnership with the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research. EPRI's Low-Carbon Resources Initiative seeks to advance clean energy technology and low carbon energy carriers such as hydrogen.
Meanwhile, LG&E and KU's carbon capture partnership with the University of Kentucky, includes a novel project focused on capturing CO2 from natural gas combined cycle plants and directly from the air as well as producing hydrogen and oxygen as value-added streams. We're excited to join this new Hydrogen Hub initiative and we will continue to engage with the Kentucky administration and other stakeholders as the state's clean energy strategy evolves. We're also very excited to support continued economic development in Kentucky, which is coming off a banner year for attracting new business and manufacturing in the state.
As we highlighted on our third quarter call, Kentucky's success in 2021 included Ford's announcement that it will build a $6 billion battery manufacturing complex within our LG&E and KU service territories. The complex to be built in Glendale, Kentucky will help put the state at the forefront of the auto industry's transformation to electric vehicles, and the state has called it the single-largest economic development project in its history.
In support of this effort in Glendale, Kentucky Utilities recently requested regulatory approval to build two 345 kv and two 138 kv power lines and two new substations. LG&E plans to construct an interconnection gas regulation facility and nearly half mile of gas lines to serve the Glendale project. The estimated capital cost to support the Glendale economic development project is $150 million to $200 million. The Kentucky Public Service Commission has set a procedural schedule that will support our ability to meet Ford's construction time line.
In addition to these initiatives, we also remain focused on advancing technology and innovation. Each of our utilities were recently recognized for these efforts by EPRI, winning technology transfer awards. In Pennsylvania, PPL Electric Utilities received this award for application of an adaptive tool, which, through automation, further increases the overall safety, reliability and efficiency of the electric grid. This tool expands on one of the most advanced grids in the nation, as we continue to develop a safer, smarter, self-healing grid of the future.
In Kentucky, LG&E and KU were recognized for the use of EPRI's electrification portfolio assessment tool, to identify high-impact electrification technologies, to reduce natural gas used and related emissions. This technology research project identified more than 1 million-megawatt hours of electrification opportunities for LG&E and KU industrial and commercial customers to reduce emissions and lower costs. These awards are just another example of our continued efforts to lead in the research and development space while progressing towards our sustainability goals.
Across our businesses, we are also very focused on improving the customer experience by expanding self-service options, and our progress in this area continues to be well received by our customers. In February, PPL Electric Utilities ranked first in J.D. Power's annual Utility Digital Experience Study. The study assesses how customers interact online and through mobile apps with the 36th largest electric, natural gas and water utilities in the U.S. PPL Electric's score in the study improved significantly in 2022, while the majority of the companies surveyed experienced declining scores. Improving customers' digital experience is yet another way we continue to use technology to drive value for our customers.
Shifting to our final update on Slide 5. We continue to make progress across PPL in advancing key environmental, social and governance initiatives. On April 14th, we published our annual sustainability report, which addresses our approach to a wide range of ESG issues and highlights our 2021 performance and progress. As highlighted in the report, we have expanded on our commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by committing to not burn unabated coal by 2050. This new commitment reflects our continued discussion and expectations around the future of our coal fleet and its transition.
Based on our current retirement schedule, we expect our coal capacity to be reduced from just over 4,700 megawatts today to approximately 550 megawatts in 2050. The 550 megawatts are associated with our highly efficient Trimble County 2 coal-fired facility, which was completed in 2011. There are many number of technology developments, regulatory mandates or circumstances that could impact the timing of the end of this plant's economic life. We believe that research and development is key to our clean energy future and fully expect that innovation, technological advances and the relative economics of other cleaner energy sources will support the company's commitment to not burn unabated coal at this facility by 2050.
In other highlights from our sustainability report, we created and filled a new Chief Diversity Officer position to lead our DEI strategy enterprise-wide and build on the progress we made in 2021. Finally, I would note that we have added political contributions to the oversight function of our Board's Governance, Nominating and Sustainability Committee. PPL's transparent disclosures in this area have earned us a trendsetter ranking by the CPA Zicklin Index, which benchmarks the political disclosures and accountability policies and practices of leading U.S. public companies. Oversight by the Governance, Nominating and Sustainability Committee will further strengthen our governance in this area. That concludes my strategic and operational overview.
I'll now turn the call over to Joe for the financial update. Joe?