Copel privatization deal delayed indefinitely

The privatization of Brazilian power generator Copel looks increasingly unlikely following the postponement of its auction in November due to a lack of interest. The failure of the auction is a severe blow to the government, which is attempting to attract foreign investment to the country’s ailing power sector.

The state government of Paraná has now postponed the sale of Copel indefinitely due to the absence of bidders. Copel accounts for some seven per cent of Brazil’s total power generation and is seen as one of the country’s most prized generating assets.

Eight foreign companies originally expressed an interest in Copel in October but each gradually withdrew after the deadline for the required deposits was postponed until early November. Most potential investors said that regulatory uncertainty in the country was too high.

The sale of Copel was seen as a test of investor interest in the country, which has been struggling to overcome a severe power shortage caused by low reservoir levels.

Belgium’s Tractebel was the last foreign company to withdraw its interest. It said that the asking price was too high and that it was primarily interested in the company’s electricity distribution assets as a means of gaining access to end customers.

1100 MW hydro slated for Guyana

A deal signed in Guyana between Enman Services and the government will pave the way for the development of a $1bn hydropower project in the country. The 1100 MW plant will provide power to local industries and could also supply power to Brazil.

Trinidad-based Enman said in a statement that it will lead a consortium of major international companies in the development of the project, which will be located at Turtruba on the Mazaruni River. The company will now undertake a two-year evaluation of the project to examine technical, financial, economic, social and environmental aspects.

Enman proposed the project after reviewing the findings of a 1974 United Nations-funded report on Guyana’s hydroelectric potential. Initial work on the project will be financed by Enman and its partners. Enman said it will seek financing from major agencies and contracting companies for the subsequent engineering and construction work.

Tractebel enters the Mexican market

Tractebel de Mexico, the North American subsidiary of Tractebel, and Enron Corporation have invested $189m in a natural gas-fired cogeneration facility in Monterrey, Mexico. Tractebel holds nearly 80 per cent of the project and Enron has a 20 per cent stake.

The cogeneration project, which is due to start commercial operation in late 2002, will produce up to 245 MW of electricity and 235m t/h of steam. Electricity from the plant will be sold to 38 industrial installations in Mexico via long term power purchase agreements.

The steam will be supplied under a steam purchase agreement with Industrais Acali, a subsidiary of Vitro. PGPB, the natural gas subsidiary of Pemex, will supply natural gas to the plant while CFE, the Mexican state power company, holds a 15-year agreement for back-up power, wheeling and interconnections.

Three hydro projects for Alstom

Alstom has recently been awarded two hydropower contracts in Canada and one in the USA The three orders are worth a total of €78m ($68.5m).

Alstom will refurbish four turbines and generators at Hydro Quebec’s Outardes 3 hydro plant in Quebec, Canada. The refurbishments will allow the plant to upgrade its output from 760 MW to 1040 MW.

Alstom will design and supply a 30 MW Francis turbine and generator to the Exploit River Hydro Partnership in Canada.

Alstom will also supply and install seven 120 MVA generator rotors and stators for the Rocky Reach Hydro plant in the US.

Storage battery contract

Saft is to design and manufacture what will be the world’s most powerful storage battery for the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), an electric utility in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The battery will comprise 13 760 high performance nickel-cadmium cells in four strings and will be capable of supplying 40 MW of power. The storage battery will be the heart of GVEA’s battery storage system, which will provide continuous voltage support during normal operations. It will also provide back-up power, known as spinning reserve, to respond quickly during system disturbances to allow the utility to bring back-up generators on-line.

As part of the $10m contract, Saft will supply a centralized filing system to ensure that the cells can be easily filled with the correct level of electrolyte, and a battery monitoring system.

News digest

Brazil: DynaMotive Energy Systems Corporation has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Intracom, an energy and commodity trader in Brazil. Under the deal, Intracom will be established as DynaMotive’s agent for the development of commercial projects in Brazil.

Brazil: The Brazilian subsidiary of Rolls-Royce Power Ventures will start work on a new $200m cogeneration project in the early part of 2002. The 240 MW project, which still has to receive authorization from the Sao Paulo state authorities, will be sited next to a petrochemical plant in Santo Andre.

Guatemala: Duke Energy International has acquired Grupo Generador from affiliates of Constellation Energy Group. As part of the deal, Duke will gain two new generating plants owned by Grupo Generador with a combined capacity of 167 MW. The plants are part of Duke’s Central American strategy of building an integrated regional business to include fuel diversity and cross-border energy trading.

USA: The Peabody Group plans to build a 1500 MW coal-fired plant in Washington County, southern Illinois which will supply power to some 1.5m homes. The company said in a recent statement that “the plant is expected to be among the cleanest coal-fuelled plants in the Midwest.”

USA: The US will become even more dependent on foreign energy sources to meet its growing energy needs by the year 2020, concluded a recent report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2002 forecasts that energy consumption will increase more rapidly than domestic energy production.

USA: Caterpillar Inc. and FuelCell Energy Inc. will distribute fuel cell products for industrial and commercial use. Under the agreement, Caterpillar will distribute FuelCell Energy products through selected Caterpillar retailers in the US, and both companies also want to jointly develop fuel cell systems.

USA: The United States Army Corps of Engineers, Construction Engineering Laboratory (CERL) has awarded a $12m contract to Plug Power Inc. to supply fuel cells to the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, New York. Plug Power will install and operate ten fuel cell systems at the facility which will provide power to various buildings and facilities on the Army Post.

Venezuela: Six out of Venezuela’s 24 states were left without electricity for several hours recently. Government officials have blamed the electricity sector’s problems on a slack rainy season earlier this year, however, others believe the problems are due to a lack of investment in Venezuela’s crumbling grid system.