Ontario okays net metering

The Ontario government has published regulations requiring utilities to link small-scale renewable energy generators to the grid and allow net metering, whereby a generator is given credit for surplus power added to the network.

Households, farms and businesses producing power by wind, water, solar or biomass will qualify for net metering. Utilities will be required to extend the option to units of up to 500 kW. Net metering is likely to be of most interest to farmers or other rural residents with wind turbines.

The producer would, in effect, be paid the full retail price for power contributed to the main system, saving not only the energy charge but also transmission and distribution costs, taxes and the Ontario Hydro debt reduction charge.

Brazil power to grow

Installed capacity in Brazil will increase by 3000 MW in 2005 with 12 new power projects starting commercial operation, all bar one of which are hydroelectric facilities. Current total installed capacity in Brazil is 87 GW and the government says an additional 3000 MW a year will be required to support the current economic recovery.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the construction of 15 projects with total installed capacity of 4742 MW would continue in 2005, at a cost of 2.5bn reais ($931m) and that licences for 17 new power plants with overall capacity of 2800 MW would be auctioned in 2005.

Brazilian power utility Electrobrás said it would be bidding either alone or as a minority shareholder for these projects. It said it plans to invest annually more than the 4.6bn reais projected for 2005, of which 1.8bn reais is planned for generation projects, 1.8bn reais for transmission and some 130m reais for distribution projects.

Cadafe invests in infrastructure

Venezuelan state-owned power company Cadafe invested $610m in generation and transmission in the country, reports Business News America. The majority of this, $459m, went to generation, with investments in the Fabricio Ojeda hydroelectric complex and two thermal plants.

Cadafe undertook 18 transmission projects at a cost of $150m during the year, upgrading and adding transformers and substations as well as transmission lines. The company expects to finance projects totalling $283 in 2005, of which about $153m would go to generation and the rest to transmission.

Separately, the Inter American Development Bank has approved a four year loan of $750m for Venezuelan state power company Edelca’s $3bn Tocoma hydroelectric project, subject to the project meeting certain environmental requirements.

US wind gains improved grid access

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has responded to a request from the American Wind Energy Association by proposing amendments to the procedures that a transmission provider and generator must follow in linking to the national power grid.

The proposals would remove barriers to wind generated electricity while helping to ensure the continued reliability of the grid.

The proposals will modify interconnection procedures adopted in Order No. 2003, and will require wind farms to “ride through” low voltage and other disturbances.

Dominion drops Candu option

The nuclear industry consortium led by Dominion Resources that is looking to build a new nuclear power facility in the USA has broken with Atomic Energy of Canada and its US subsidiary AECL Technologies. Instead, the consortium has formed a partnership with General Electric (GE), with a view to using its Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor design.

The move follows comments by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year that AECL’s Candu reactor design would face “significant” US licensing issues and delays. The decision also results in Hitachi ending its involvement in the project. The group now consists of Dominion, GE and Bechtel Power.

In November, the US Energy Department awarded $9m to the Dominion-led group to pursue the nuclear project. The Energy Department is expected to supply half of the finance required to license the reactor.

The DOE made a second award of $4m to a different consortium led by NuStart Energy and comprising Constellation Generation, Duke Energy, Exelon Generation, Entergy Nuclear, Florida Power & Light, Progress Energy, Southern Company, TVA and EDF International, along with GE and Westinghouse. It is also pursuing GE’s ESBWR technology, along with the Westinghouse AP1000. The AP1000 has received design approval, while GE’s design is now at pre-certification stage.

Both consortia are part of the US Nuclear Power 2010 programme, announced in 2002. It commits consortia to pursue a new licensing route: design approval; a so-called early site licence (ESL); and a combined construction/operating licence (COL) expected to cost some $500m. ESL and COL are so far untried in the USA.

The programme should produce reactor designs that can be built for $1000/kW, but it does not include a commitment to build a reactor.

News digest

Brazil: El Paso Corporation has executed new three-year power purchase agreements for its Negro and Manaus power plants in Brazil. Ownership of both plants will transfer to Manaus Energy in January 2008.

Canada: TransAlta has retired two more units of its Wabamun coal fired power plant near Edmonton, Calgary as part of a phased closure of the 537 MW plant. The remaining 279 MW unit will operate until 2010.

Canada: A division of SNC-Lavalin Group has signed a $122m contract to design and build a 117 MW cogeneration power plant at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, consisting of two gas fired turbines and one steam turbine.

Chile: Natural gas supplies to Chile from Argentina were drastically cut for several days in January amid a row between the private power sector and government over responsibility for resolving the problem of unreliable supplies.

Mexico: GE Energy is to supply four frame 7FA gas turbines, two steam turbines, additional equipment and services for a 1135 MW combined-cycle power plant to be located in Tamazunchale, Mexico.

USA: Dominion has purchased three power stations from USGen New England, increasing its electricity-generating portfolio by 10 per cent to 28 340 MW.

USA: Construction has begun at what will be Oklahoma’s largest wind farm near Wetherford. The FPL Energy project will consist of 71 wind tubines with a total capacity of 106.5 MW.

USA: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has received an order from Southern Company worth $48.4m for a large-scale flue gas desulphurization system for its Gorgas plant, operated by Alabama Power.

USA: Tampa Electric is to install selective catalytic reduction technology at its coal fired Big Bend power station in Apollo Beach, Florida at a cost of $300m. It is expected to reduce NOx emissions by approximately 80 per cent from 1998 levels by 2010.

USA: Tenaska Energy Inc. has signed an agreement to acquire the 315 MW simple cycle oil fired Commonwealth Chesapeake Power Station in Virginia for $89m.

USA: An affiliate company of Tokyo Electric Power, Eurus Energy Holdings, has invested in a Californian 60 MW wind farm project in California being operated by enXco, part of the Electricité de France Group.

USA: A new $2.8m unit at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will study the chemical and biological reactions which can transform renewable plant and waste materials into sources of energy.