Americas

Power rationing in Brazil

The Brazilian government is to introduce power rationing measures across the country to help combat the country’s energy crisis. The rationing will come into force on June 1, 2001, and is expected to last until November.

The government will enforce a quota system for different consumers to reduce electricity consumption by 20 per cent.

Industrial consumers have been preparing for the rationing by importing products from overseas, renting generators and reducing working hours.

The energy crisis has forced the Sao Paulo state government to postpone the sale of Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo (Cesp), the country’s third largest power generator. Combined with the energy shortage, this helped push the Brazilian real to an all-time low against the dollar.

Brazil is heavily dependent on hydropower to meet its needs and low rainfall has caused reservoir levels to fall, especially in the south-east.

Brazil has estimated that it requires some 25 000 MW of new generating capacity over the next five years and is trying to encourage foreign investment in its power sector. General Electric International was recently awarded a $100m contract by Termogaàƒºcha-Usina Termeléctrica S/A to supply equipment and associated services to a new 500 MW plant in southern Brazil.

Other investors have called on the government to implement a clear energy policy and increase tariffs. AES has put ten planned power projects, worth a combined $2.5bn, on hold.

G technology goes commercial in USA

Two power plants equipped with Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation’s advanced W501G technology have entered commercial operation in the USA. The two plants achieved commercial operation in April, marking a step forward in the introduction of G technology into the market.

Developed under the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Turbine Systems programme, the W501G gas turbine is the largest 60 Hz gas turbine in the world.

Siemens Westinghouse has a total of 28 W501G units committed, “sending a clear signal that [customers] are confident in [Siemens Westinghouse’s] ability to continue to evolve technology,” said Randy Zwirn, Siemens Westinghouse’s president and CEO.

The 360 MW combined cycle Millennium plant in Charlton, Massachusetts, entered commercial operation on April 5, 2001, while the simple cycle City of Lakeland McIntosh Unit 5 in Florida went commercial on April 16. The McIntosh Unit 5 will be converted to combined cycle.

  • PPL Susquehanna has awarded Siemens Westinghouse a contract to design, manufacture and install turbine upgrades at two 1130 MW nuclear units at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Berwick, PA.

CA state enters power business

California Governor Gray Davis has signed a bill to create a state agency that is able to build, buy, lease or operate power plants. The move has been touted as a key step in pulling California out of the power crisis which is set to continue over the summer.

The new authority will be modelled after the New York Power Authority, which owns ten power plants, 2250 km of transmission lines and produces 25 per cent of New York state’s power. It will be able to borrow up to $5bn to finance new capacity build or to acquire new plants.

Supporters of the bill claim that it will give the state more control over the wholesale power market. The agency will be run by the state treasurer and four others appointed by the Governor.

  • AES Corporation has received certification from the California Energy Commission to start the refurbishment of two retired gas-fired units totalling 450 MW.

JBIC supports Costa Rica

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is to loan Costa Rica’s Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) $134.8m for the development of the Pirris hydropower project.

The Pirris project is a high priority in Costa Rica’s National Energy Plan, which will see the construction of 29 power generation facilities by 2020. The country is also keen to improve the reliability of its power grid to attract foreign investment to its high-tech industry sector.

The Pirris plant will be located 70 km south of the capital city of San Jose.

Washington Group files

Washington Group Inter-national has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and has reached an agreement with financers to implement a reorganization plan. This follows an announcement by the company in March that it was facing severe liquidity problems relating to its acquisition of Raytheon Engineers & Constructors.

Washington alleged in March that Raytheon Engineers & Constructors made “material misrepresentations” and “deliberately withheld” information during negotiations to buy the company, causing serious damage to Washington’s business.

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