New York strengthens grid

In response to an application, and following the massive power failure on August 14, US Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has approved the continued operation of an underwater cable linking Connecticut to Long Island, which will stabilize and enhance power supplies in the New York and Connecticut area.

The Cross Sound link is owned by TransEnergie and uses ABB’s HVDC Light technology. It was installed a year ago although political debate had prevented it going online until it was briefly commissioned to provide emergency power relief in response to the region’s power crisis.

Separately, funding has been obtained for the $700m Empire Connection power line project that will bring low cost electricity from upstate New York to New York City. The Conjunction LLC project will have the backing of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Trimaran Capital and will carry 3200 MW along two circuits over 209 km.

News digest

Brazil: Alstom has won a contract worth g40m ($45m) to provide operation support and maintenance for the Fortaleza power plant in Brazil. The 311 MW Endesa-owned plant is scheduled to start commercial operation in December 2003.

Brazil: Dominican Republic-based investment firm Montecristi Financial Assets plans to invest over $1bn in four gas fired power generation projects in northeast Brazil. The total installed capacity of the projects, which are being planned by Voigt Energy Corporation, is 1250 MW.

Canada: The preliminary evaluation of a waste-to energy system capable of converting wood residue into BioOil carried out by DynaMotive Energy Systems, Bruks Klockner and UMA Engineering in British Columbia, claims a conversion cost of under 60 per cent of recent average gas prices.

Canada: GE Aero Energy has been awarded a contract to upgrade gas turbines at Northland Power Income Fund’s cogeneration plant in Iroquois Falls, Canada. This will be the first example of a conversion of an LM6000 PA to PD and will increase power output by 18 per cent.

Haiti: Haiti’s president has inaugurated a power plant installation that will add 30 MW to the power-difficient metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The government has rented the diesel fueled generators for two years from Acervin company.

Mexico: Madrid-based Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios has signed a $34.8m contract with Mexico’s state power company CFE to build a 319 km, 400kV transmission line plus three substations and two feeders in Quintana Roo and Yucatan states.

USA: A division of SNC-Lavalin is to build a thermal power plant in New Mexico for Farmington Electric Utility Systems having signed a deal worth $48m. The SNC-Lavalin Constructors Inc. subsidiary is based in Redmond, Washington.

USA: Work has started on a new 790 MW coal fired power plant, majority-owned by MidAmerican Energy Co., and located in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The plant is expected to cost $1.2bn and should be ready to produce power in 2007.

USA: GE Wind Energy is to supply two 1.5 MW wind turbines to Coram Energy for a wind farm in Tehachapi, California. Power is to be sold to Southern California Edison and construction is set to be complete by December 2003.

Venezuela: Venezuelan state-owned generator Cadafe has awarded Siemens-Westinghouse a contract to supply and install two turbines for the first stage of the 450 MW combined cycle Pedro Camejo project in Carabobo state.

Power Machines wins Brazilian hydro order

Russia’s Power Machines Group is to design, supply and supervise the installation of two turbines and generators as part of an international consortium which is constructing, on a turnkey basis, the Corumba 3 hydropower plant in the Brazilian state of Goias.

The Power Machines order is worth $10m, part of a $60m contract and is the first order the company has secured in Brazil for 20 years. Power Machines is to supply two Francis turbines with governors of 47.8 MW and two generators with excitation of 52 MW.

The 95.6 MW hydropower plant on the Corumba River is due to be commissioned in 2006.

Biggest battery supports Alaska

Alaskan electricity co-operative, Golden Valley Electric Association, has begun commercial operation of the world’s largest battery energy storage system (BESS), which it hopes will reduce power blackouts by more than 60 per cent.

A consortium led by ABB supplied and installed the BESS, made of a Nickel-Cadmium battery developed by Saft and an ABB-designed converter. The BESS has 13 760 energy cells and with all four strings operational, is able to feed the power grid with 40 MW for six to seven minutes, or 27 MW for 15 minutes.

The battery will provide continuous voltage support during normal operation and stabilize the grid if power supply problems occur. Back-up power is essential to the local population due to extremely low temperatures in winter.

AES agrees debt deal with BNDES for Eletropaulo

The AES Corporation has entered into an agreement with Brazil’s BNDES development bank to restructure loans owed to BNDES by several of its Brazilian subsidiaries, including the country’s distribution giant, Eletropaulo. The soaring cost of AES’s dollar denominated debts and the loss of revenues due to power rationing resulted in AES defaulting on a $1.2bn loan.

A new holding company is to be formed, in which BNDES will have a 49.9 per cent stake. It will control AES’s Brazilian utilities, including Eletropaulo, AES Tietê and AES Uruguaiana.

As a result of the settlement, Eletropaulo has become eligible for fresh federal aid. Eletropaulo will also be authorized to receive $166m in compensation for the impact of exchange rate fluctuations on tariffs charged from Itaipu, the bi-national hydroelectric plant.

Brazilian biomass

A major new biomass power plant in Sertãozinho, Brazil, owned by Companhia Energética Santa Elisa (CESE) has begun production using bagasse (crushed sugar cane) as fuel. The 60 MW facility is one of the highest steam pressure biomass plants in the world and cost in excess of $20m.

Half of the electricity production is to be used by Santa Elisa Co. in its own processes with the remainder being sold to CPFL, the São Paulo state energy company.

Brazilian technology was utilized in the complete development of the plant.

Fenosa sells to Dominican Republic

Spain’s Union Fenosa has sold back to the government of the Dominican Republic its 50 per cent stakes in two of the country’s power distribution companies, taking a loss of g160m ($180m) in the process. Union Fenosa said it was selling its interests in Edenorte and Edesur for g384m and would receive a cash payment of g13.3m with the balance in the form of rights to operate assets of the two firms over 12 years.

Edenorte and Edesur have run up debts of g271m since Union Fenosa bought them in 1999 due to the combination of dollar-linked rates and a fast-depreciating Dominican peso. A series of power cuts in August led to civil unrest and prompted the government to ask lender, the InterAmerican Development Bank, to intervene in running the firms.