US power groups back bill to cut carbon emissions

A Congress bill that aims to cuts carbon emissions by 25 percent below projected levels by 2020 has been backed by six US power companies. Senator Dianne Feinstein and co-sponsor Tom Carper, both of the Democratic Party, said the cap and trade bill was the first time “major industry groups have endorsed a cap and trade bill that establishes emissionsreductions as deep and aggressive as this.”

The six companies include Calpine, Entergy, Florida Power and Light and PG&E Corp, companies which repr sent 15 per cent of the US electricity market and operate across 42 states. Peter A. Darbee, chairman, chief executive and president of PG&E said: “Adopting legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions at the federal level is the greatest way of efficiently addressing climate change and a necessary step in positioning the United States as a global leader on environmental issues.”

However, while some utilities may benefit from such a bill, having invested in low-carbon generation such as nuclear, gas and renewables, it is unlikely to garner much support where coal remains the mainstay of power generation, despite growing interest in some form of cap and trade measures across the USA.

EU urges California to join up to its carbon trading scheme

European Union environment commissioner Stavros Dimas has held talks with Californian officials on fitting the state’s proposed emissions trading scheme with the existing European scheme.

“We are trying to make their trading scheme harmonized in order to have them linked in the future,” Dimas said, adding that such a connection would take at least two years to achieve.

Dimas also criticised the recent State of the Union address in which President Bush set out his own plans for reducing emissions.

“I would have expected him to create a cap-and-trade system at the national level,” Dimas said.

“I really don’t understand why the president didn’t do something that in all probability will be done by his successor,” he added.

Brazil plans for new thermal capacity

Petrobras, the Brazilian national oil company, is to build a 220 MW co-generation power plant in Cubatão, 60 km from São Paulo.

The contract for detailed engineering, procurement, construction and assembly, commissioning and start up assistance of the plant has been awarded to Swedish firm Skanska, with a 50 per cent share of the project corresponding to $136m.

The project will start immediately and be mechanically completed in 30 months to start commercial operation around mid-2009. The partner in the Skanska-led consortium will be the Brazilian construction company Camargo Corrêa.

Canada unveils plans to bolster domestic renewable energy supplies

Canada has announced more than C$1.5bn (US$1.29bn) in funding to boost the country’s renewable energy supplies to the tune of 4000 MW.

The first component of the so-called ecoEnergy Renewable Initiative will see C$1.48bn invested to boost Canada’s supply electricity from wind, biomass, small hydro and wave and tidal energy. A ten-year incentive programme will also be established to fund eligible projects to be constructed over the next four years.

Texan utility TXU agrees to $44.5bn private equity takeover bid

The board of TXU, Texas’ largest electricity producer, has approved a $44.5bn takeover by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Texas Pacific Group, in what would rank as the largest private buyout in USA corporate history.

KKR and Texas Pacific Group sought support for the buyout by agreeing to cancel eight of 11 new coal fired power plants in TXU’s controversial $10bn plans. The two firms were understood to have offered around $32bn, plus the assumption of more than $12bn in debt, for TXU.

Such a deal would eclipse the previous record private buyout, which was the $25.1bn purchase of RJR Nabisco Inc by KKR back in 1988.

Final details were still being worked out, but TXU’s board signed off on the outlines of the sale and will submit it to shareholders for a vote, according to two sources close to the deal. KKR, Texas Pacific and TXU have declined to comment publicly.

TXU was near bankruptcy in 2002, when it lost $4.2bn. It was forced to sell units in Europe and Australia, and returned to its roots, selling electricity in Texas. However, the company rebounded, earning $2.5bn in 2006.

News digest

Argentina: Two decrees have bee signed by President Nestor Kirchner ratifying rate increases for distribution companies Edenor and Edesur. The decrees allow for a 15 per cent rate hike.

Canada: The Canadian Renewable Energy Corp has signed a e7m ($9.22m) contract with cable company Nexans for the supply of a 7.8 km 245 kV HVDC submarine cable for the 200 MW Wolfe Island wind project in Lake Ontario. Commerical operations are expected in October 2008.

Cuba: Researchers are investigating thermo-oceanic energy as a source of both energy a clean water. Several zones have been identified in Cuba that could be used to develop the technologies necessary.

Mexico: The Veracruz state government is to renegotiate a contract with Germany’s Inek for the 150 turbine Valle de Perote wind farm. The government had previous rescinded the e350m ($461m) contract over land payment issues.

USA: Siemens is leading a consortium to supply equipment for a new $1bn, 700 MW coal-fired station in West Virginia, due online in 2011.The ultra-supercritical project is being developed by Longview Power, a subsidiary of GenPower.

USA: Wartsila is to supply equipment for a 115.5 MW gas fired project to be built in Northern California for Tierra Energy. The $50m contract will see 14 Wartsila engines begin commerical operations in May 2009 at the Eastshore plant.

USA: Solar Integrated Technologies has won a $13m contract from retail chain Tesco for a roof-mounted 2 MW photovoltaic system. The system is to be installed at the Tesco distribution centre under construction in Riverside, California.

USA: A Federal Appeals Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must force power plants to protect aquatic life, saying that decisions must be based on “technology, not cost.”

USA: Retail giant Wal-Mart has entered the energy market by creating an electricity company in Texas. Texas Retail Energy will supply its stores with energy bought at wholesale prices.

Venezuela: AES Corp has agreed a deal with Venezuela for the purchase of AES’ 82 per cent stake in La Electricidad de Caracas (EDC), for $739m.

Venezuela: State-owned CVG Edelca has contracted VA Tech Hydro and Voith Siemens to modernise the 10.3 GW Simon Bolivar hydro station in Guri. The e100m ($131m) deal will see the five refurbished turbines commissioned between 2010-12.