– for small generators

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued standard procedures for the interconnection of generators below 20 MW in a move that, says FERC, removes barriers to the development of needed infrastructure by reducing interconnection uncertainty, time and costs. The Commission has designated the rule as Order No. 2006.

The rule will help preserve grid reliability, increase energy supply, and lower wholesale electricity costs for customers by increasing the number and types of new generators available in the electricity market, including development of non-polluting alternative energy resources, said the Commission.

The rule reflects input from a broad-based group of utilities, small generators, state commission representatives and other interested entities who came together to recommend a unified approach to small generator interconnection. It harmonizes state and federal practices by adopting many of the best interconnection practices recommended by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and should help promote consistent, nationwide interconnection rules for small generators, the Commission added.

FERC Chairman Pat Wood III said: ‘Today’s rule takes us a step closer to truly non-discriminatory, competitive bulk power markets. Advances in technology have led to a growing industry of small power plants that offer economic and environmental benefits. Standardization of interconnection practices across the nation will lower costs for small generators, help ensure reliability, and help ensure reasonably priced electric service for the nation’s wholesale power customers.’

USCHPA Executive Director John Jimison, who led the Small Generator Coalition negotiating for consensus about the new rules, said, ‘Small generators are generally very pleased that FERC has issued final rules for interconnection that promise significant improvements from the current process and that recognize recent advancements in technical standards. While there were aspects of the FERC rules we would like to have improved, we hope that individual states will continue to standardize their rules along these lines so that inability to interconnect is no longer a primary obstacle to new small generators.’

The rule directs public utilities to amend their Order No. 888 open access transmission tariffs to offer non-discriminatory, standardized interconnection service for small generators. The amendments should include a Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) document and a Small Generator Interconnection Agreement (SGIA).

The SGIP contains the technical procedures that the small generator and utility must follow in the course of connecting the generator with the utility’s lines. The SGIA contains the contractual provisions for the interconnection and spells out who pays for improvements to the utility’s electric system, if needed to complete the interconnection.

The rule applies only to interconnections with facilities already subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission; the Commission emphasized that it does not apply to local distribution facilities.

BASF Aktiengesellschaft has inaugurated a major new 440 MW CHP plant at its Ludwigshafen chemicals manufacturing site in Germany. Built by Siemens Power Generation, the plant also produces 650 tonnes per hour of steam, at an overall net fuel utilization of around 90%.

At the heart of the plant are two natural gas-fired gas turbines with an electricity capacity of 180 MW each. Steam is produced in heatrecovery boilers from the hot exhaust of the gas turbines. This powers a steam turbine that drives an additional electricity generator. From there it is fed into the process steam networks and becomes available to production plants, where it is used as heating energy.

‘Investing in the combined-cycle plant will make BASF less reliant on external electricity suppliers. We now generate 65% of our electricity in our own plants at the Ludwigshafen site, compared with 15% previously,’ said Ernst Schwanhold, head of the Environment, Safety & Energy competence centre. Including the capacity of the RWE Power CHP plant, the new plant will increase the share of electricity generated by CHP at the Ludwigshafen site to more than 90%.

The €240 million project will make an important contribution to ensuring the competitiveness of the Ludwigshafen site. ‘We have built a high-capacity, ultraefficient power plant that will supply the site with competitively priced electricity and steam – and will do so in the long term, because we don’t make this kind of investment for just three, five or 10 years,’ said Dr Albert Heuser, Ludwigshafen site manager.

‘The gas and steam turbines supply 3.5 times more electricity per tonne of steam than conventional CHP plants without gas turbines. No other power plant technology achieves a higher electricity yield,’ said Schwanhold. Compared with coal-fired power plants, the CHP plant will also reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by almost 40%. ‘This will allow us to conserve valuable resources and, from 2006, to lower carbon dioxide emissions by more than 500,000 tonnes per year,’ he added.