Power Notes

Compiled by OGJ Online Staff

September 28, 2001à‚–Westinghouse Electric Co., Pittsburgh, Pa., a unit of BNFL PLC, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) reported reaching an agreement calling for MHI to participate in the engineering and design certification activities of the AP1000, Westinghouse’s advanced/passive pressurized water reactor. Westinghouse said the agreement will facilitate Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification that should coincide with the preliminary site certifications that US utilities will need to make new plant construction a reality. Currently, Westinghouse projects a construction time of about 36 months from the first concrete pour to the loading of fuel into the AP1000’s reactor.

Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline LLC, Boston, Mass., named Murphy Brothers Inc., East Moline, Ill., as the preconstruction contractor for the proposed Phase III expansion of its natural gas pipeline system. Murphy Brothers will provide preconstruction services for 24 miles of 30-in. diameter pipeline and 1 mile of 24-in. diameter pipeline extending from Methuen, Mass., to an interconnection with Algonquin Gas Transmission Co.’s proposed HubLine facility in Beverly, Mass.

Energy East Corp., Albany, NY, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved Energy East’s merger transaction with RGS Energy Group Inc. Remaining regulatory approvals necessary to complete the merger include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the New York State Public Service Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Star Gas Partners LP, Stamford, Conn. said it acquired assets of Valley Propane Inc. from Southern Union Co. a natural gas utility in Austin, Tex. Valley Propane, based in Providence, RI, serves 2,800 customers, with annual propane volume of 2 million gal. The acquisition follows Star Gas Partners’ August 2001 purchase of the assets of Southern Union’s Rhode Island-based heating oil distribution business, ProvEnergy.

TransAlta Power LP, Calgary, Alt., said it completed the offering of 4.5 million limited partnership units at a price of $8.50 each for gross proceeds of $38.3 million. TransAlta Power LP indirectly owns a 49.99% in three Ontario cogeneration facilities with total capacity of 250 Mw. TransAlta owns the remaining 50.01%.

Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., Bismarck, ND, an indirect unit of MDU Resources Group Inc., said it will file plans in October with federal regulators to build a 245-mile natural gas pipeline spanning parts of Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. The company, said the 16-in. pipeline could eventually ship as much as 200 MMcfd from developing coalbed and conventional gas production in Wyoming and Montana to interconnecting pipelines that will move the fuel to Midwestern markets. The pipeline is initially expected to carry between 80-120 MMcfd.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Francisco, Calif., said the continuing drop in natural gas prices is expected to decrease customers’ bills by more than 50% this October versus a year ago. The average residential bill should decline to $14.33, compared to $28.77 in October 2000, the company said. The new rates will take effect on Oct. 5.

BP Global Power, a unit of the UK’s BP PLC and Cinergy Solutions, a Cinergy Corp., Cincinnati, Ohio, said they will add new power and steam cogeneration facilities at BP’s Texas City, Tex., refinery and chemical complex. The companies said the units will produce 570 Mw of electricity. Construction is expected to be complete in spring 2004.

Beginning in November and continuing through January billings, Columbia Gas of Ohio, a unit of Nisource Inc., Merrillville, Ind., said it will reduce its gas cost to 48(cent; from 60(cent;/ hundred cu ft, a drop of about 20%. The company estimated the monthly bill for the average residential customer will be about $106, or $40 lower than last winter.

Puget Sound Energy, the utility subsidiary of Puget Energy Inc., Bellevue, Wash., said state regulators approved it plan to continue and expand a its time-of-use electricity billing program that encourages customers shift their electricity use to lower-cost, “off-peak” times of day. In addition, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission authorized the utility to begin charging variable, time-of-day electricity rates to about 20,000 businesses.

TXU Electric, a unit of TXU Corp., Dallas, Tex., announced a tender program for twelve series of outstanding tax-exempt bonds aggregating $682.4 million. The bonds, issued by the Brazos River Authority (Texas) and the Sabine River Authority of Texas, funded a portion of certain pollution control facilities at the company’s electric generating stations. Separately, the Company will offer to purchase certain of its debentures and preferred securities aggregating $800 million.

Idaho state regulators granted Idaho Power, a unit of IdaCorp., Boise, Ida., $47.66 million of the $59.2 million deferred from the company’s power cost adjustment application of last spring. The commission also denied the company $11.6 million it had requested. The company will be allowed to recover a carrying charge of $1.2 million it accrued during the 5 months while the disputed issues were under investigation. The total $48.85 million recovery will result in a 1-year increase of about 7% for most residential customers.

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement authorizing Consumers Energy Co., Dearborn, Mich., to refund $3.5 million to customers who paid market-based rates for their natural gas costs between November 2000 and March 2001. The commission approved the settlement to mitigate the effects of market-based rates on these customers during the 2000-2001 heating season.

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