Fast-delivery peaking plant order for US market

PG&E National Energy Group has placed an order with Wärtsilä for a natural gas fired 110 MW reciprocating engine power plant. The plant will be the largest of its kind in the USA.

Wärtsilä will supply the plant to a site near the City of Plains End, Colorado. The plant will be based on Wärtsilä’s PeakingPlus concept, a new breed of pre-packaged natural gas fired peaking power plants with rapid delivery times.

“PeakingPlus was chosen for its fast delivery time and ability to operate at peak efficiency even at high altitudes – two criteria that many of the gas turbine power plants sold today cannot match,” said Thomas M. Carbone, president of Wärtsilä North America.

The power plant will enter commercial operation in April 2002 and will operate for up to 6000 hours per year. It will comprise 20 Wärtsilä 18V34SG gas engines, each with an output of 5.7 MW.

Mirant strengthens Caribbean presence

International power developer Mirant has acquired Puerto Rico-based EcoElectrica Holdings Ltd. from Edison Mission Energy and Enron for an undisclosed sum. The deal strengthens Mirant’s position in the Caribbean where it also owns and operates plants in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas.

EcoElectrica owns a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Puerto Rico and also owns and operates a 540 MW gas fired combined cycle power plant which supplies power to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

“Interest in LNG is growing in the Caribbean, and the EcoElectrica assets provide us with a unique opportunity to participate and expand in this important business segment in the region,” said J. R. Harris, chief executive officer of Mirant’s South America and Caribbean subsidiary.

“EcoElectrica is the world’s first and only operating independent power producer fuelled by LNG,” said Mirant CEO Marce Fuller. “It will serve as a template for similar developments for the company on a worldwide basis as we continue to pursue growth opportunities.”

Northeast USA grid meets challenge of August heatwave

Grid operators in northeastern USA were pushed to their limits in August as a heatwave hit the region causing power demand to surge to an all-time high. Public appeals for energy conservation and voltage reductions helped ISO New England and the New York ISO meet demand.

ISO New England reported that its system had successfully met the four highest days of electricity demand in New England’s history. Demand in the region hit a peak of 25 158 MW and in addition to public appeals for energy conservation, voluntary load curtailment programmes were implemented by the ISO.

The New York ISO ordered a five per cent voltage reduction and state offices closed early. The ISO reported a record peak demand of 30 983 MW.

ISO New England noted that while additional power generation capacity has been added to the grid in the past two years, transmission constraints in the system remain an issue.

  • Entergy Corporation has reached an agreement to acquire the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant for $145m. The deal will bring the company’s northeast generation portfolio to a total of nearly 4000 MW.

Nicaragua fails

Nicaragua’s attempt to sell six state-owned generators failed in August when three pre-qualified bidders presented no bids at the auction. The six generators have a combined capacity of 350 MW.

Enron, AES and Hydro-Quebec expressed interest in the sale. AES requested an extension of the deadline, while Hydro-Quebec said the government could not provide a legally and fiscally stable contract.

Nicaragua is privatizing the state power company Enel in line with IMF and Inter-American Development Bank requirements.

Brazil orders

Brazil’s energy shortage has lead to a spate of orders for power generating equipment from manufacturers including GE, Siemens, Alstom and Volvo Penta. The orders came amid news that Brazil’s government has authorized the investment of R$1.15bn ($465m) in power infrastructure.

Alstom has won $32m worth of contracts with a total capacity of 200 MW. It will deliver the equipment in early 2002.

Siemens recently closed a $204m deal to supply two turbines to Rio de Janiero state power utility Light, while Volvo Penta has received an order for 800 industrial engines for use in gensets.

GE said in August that it is supplying 54 gas turbines for projects across Brazil with a total capacity of 4600 MW.

News digest

Brazil: The Brazilian state of Ceara is to build two wind powered electricity generation projects in 2003. The plants, which will produce 60 MW of electricity, will be run by Coelce, a subsidiary of Endesa, who will be able to buy energy at half the cost it normally pays to its supplier.

Canada: Eighty-nine of Ontario’s 93 local utilities are still behind schedule for the opening of Ontario’s competitive electricity market. The four utilities that are on schedule for the market opening, which is expected to begin in May 2002, represent 48 per cent of Ontario’s electricity customers.

Mexico: Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has failed to find an acceptable bidder for its Laguna 2 power plant for the second time. Union Fenosa of Spain tendered a bid, but the price was considered to be too high. The Laguna 2 plant is expected to produce between 383 MW and 518 MW of power.

Peru and Chile: Peruvian and Chilean authorities plan to develop an electric power energy interconnection project between the two countries. The link would start in Arica in Chile and continue to the nearest electrical energy facility in Peru. To proceed with the link, 400 km of transmission lines would have to be improved.

USA: DTE Energy has joined the Chicago Climate Exchange – a group of energy, manufacturing and environmental organizations who are designing a greenhouse gas trading market programme. The participants hope that the programme will reduce or offset their emissions of greenhouse gases by five per cent from 1999 levels by 2005.

USA: American Superconductor Corp., has built and demonstrated the world’s first 5000 horsepower, high temperature superconductor electric motor. The motors are designed to reduce manufacturing costs in industrial and ship propulsion motors by up to 40 per cent and reduce electrical loss by up to one half compared with more conventional motors.

USA: California’s first full-time landfill power plant is now producing electricity. The Burbank landfill gas microturbine power plant produced nearly 300 kW of electricity for the city of Burbank on July 13, 2001.

USA: The Bush National Energy Plan has promised to provide a new opportunity for the coal business in the US power generation market, according to US law firm Baker & McKenzie. The Energy Plan proposes tax incentives and advanced technology funding and aims to shift coal trading to the provisions of fuller services rather than continue trading as a commodity.