Brazil pushes ahead with Copel privatization

The government of Parana state in Brazil is to go ahead with the privatization of integrated power company Copel in spite of the country’s power crisis. In July the state opened the door to interested parties in the sale, which will prove to be a test of investor confidence during a very uncertain time.

Copel has nearly 4500 MW of generating capacity and distributes more than 22 600 GWh of power to some 2.8m customers in the state. It is considered to be one of the most efficient and financially-sound state power companies.

Brazil introduced power rationing measures in June to combat a power shortage caused by low rainfall and reservoir levels. The government has estimated that some 20 000 MW and $12.5bn are needed in the next two years to overcome the crisis.

Companies thought to have expressed an interest in Copel include AES, Duke Energy, Iberdrola, Hydro Quebec and Electricidade de Portugal.

The energy crisis has also forced Brazil to examine the possibility of restarting the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant near Rio de Janiero. Construction on the project was halted in 1985, and the National Energy Council was due to meet in July to decide whether to revive the plant.

LIPA to demo fuel cell benefits

New York’s Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is to connect 75 fuel cells to its power grid in an effort to demonstrate how the technology can contribute to the reliability of electric utility systems. Construction on the $7m project began this July.

The fuel cells will be supplied by New York-based Plug Power and will power about 100 homes through LIPA’s electric grid. The demonstration is being financed by LIPA’s $170m Clean Energy Initiative programme.

“We need to develop an understanding of how fuel cells can be integrated with our electric grid, and that’s what the project will help identify,” said LIPA chairman Richard M. Kessel. “The experience gained will help fuel cells to evolve as a technology that can be employed by electric utilities as a source of power.”

Dryformer breaks into North America

Vancouver-based BC Hydro has placed an order with global technology company ABB for two Dryformer power transformers. It is the first order in North America for this new transformer technology.

The two 42 MVA 64/25 kV units will be supplied by ABB Inc in Canada and will be installed in a new substation serving the rapidly developing urban areas of South Surrey, British Columbia. The substation will enter service in late 2002.

Dryformer is an innovative transformer technology that uses cables and eliminates the need for oil as insulation.

Ecuador schedules privatization

The Ecuadorian government has announced that 16 electric distribution utilities slated for privatization will be sold in two separate groups. The sale for a 39 per cent stake in the companies will take place in September.

AES, Union Fenosa and Pecom Energia have all expressed interest in the sale. The privatization price will be unveiled on September 7, 2001, and bidding is scheduled for September 28, 2001.

Under the plans, a private company will purchase 39 per cent of each group, and will take over administration. The government will retain a 51 per cent stake. It also plans to end power tariff subsidies.

Microturbine R&D funding

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a funding package of $3m for Capstone Turbine Corp. to research, develop and test packaged cooling, heating and power systems for buildings.

The main focus of the programme will be to examine how waste heat from distributed generation technologies, such as Capstone’s microturbines, can be used to provide heating, cooling and humidity control in commercial and institutional buildings.

“Capstone has already made great technological strides forward in developing effective and affordable combined heat, power and chilling systems,” said Capstone president and CEO Dr. Ake Almgren. “These systems have demonstrated 70-90 per cent real-world thermal efficiencies.”

Outages cost US $119bn

Power outages and power quality disturbances are costing the US economy over $119bn annually, according to a new study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

While Californian companies experience the highest costs for outages and disturbances, the study notes that several industries need to invest in ‘digital quality’ power systems.

News digest

Argentina: PSEG Global has exercised its option to acquire an additional 49 per cent of the Argentinan power distributor Empresa Distribuidora de Electricidad de Entre Rios S.A (Edeersa). The $100m deal will give PSEG Global a 90 per cent share of Edeersa, which distributes electricity to more than 230 000 customers.

Canada: Six major rivers are to be dammed in the northwest territories of Canada as part of a long term hydropower development project. The project could generate up to $600m in revenues annually through exports to southern Canada and the USA.

Canada: NB Power has announced losses of $12m in the last fiscal year, primarily due to problems with the region’s only nuclear reactor, Point Lepreau. Officials also blamed equipment issues and the payment of early retirement packages at NP coal. The utility is still believed to be in a strong position despite the losses.

Chile: Tractebel and Codelco will launch a tender offer for the Chilean Power company Edelnor through Electroandina International. If the offer is accepted, Electroandina will acquire Edelnor and will become the principle electric power generating company of the northern interconnected energy system.

Mexico: Spanish utility Iberdrola will invest $610m to build a generation plant in Monterrey, northern Mexico. The Monterrey 2 plant will generate 1000 MW of power, half of which will go to the state-owned Federal Electricity Company. The remaining power will be sold to private companies in the area.

USA: GE Energy Rentals, a GE Power Systems Business, is supplying 440 MW of power via its TM2500 (trailer mounted) gas turbine generator sets to temporary sites in Arizona, Utah and Washington. The 22 rental units will be available to meet local peak power demands for the summer.

USA: Shell Renewable’s US wind energy company, Shell WindEnergy Inc., has chosen the 50 MW Rock River 1 wind farm in Wyoming as the site for its first commercial project. The project, which will be made up of fifty 1 MW Mitsubishi wind turbines, is scheduled to begin operation in October of this year. The energy produced and the emission reduction credits will be sold to PacifiCorp under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

USA: Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has selected four Sea West WindPower Inc., utility scale wind power projects in the US for further consideration under the BPA’s March 2001 Request for Wind Project proposals. The four sites would have a combined capacity of 505 MW

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