Quebec may shift stance on transmission grid

The Quebec government may participate in the development of an east-west power grid, as long as the conditions were right, according to a provincial official.

When the development of a national grid has been discussed before, Quebec has routinely stated that it would rather sign individual trade agreements for exporting power to its neighbours. However, the Quebec government has now suggested that it could be in favour.

A national power grid would help Canada meet its targets in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but if the plan is to advance smoothly then Quebec must grant its approval.

“Quebec would need to be compensated for the use of transmission network it has built, because Hydro-Québec has developed and financed its own network,” said a spokesman for the Provincial Department of Natural Resources. “And secondly, we want assurances that Quebec will be part of the talks.”

If Quebec was to relinquish some control over power transmission within its borders it would be a significant shift.

EPA emissions ruling

The US Environmental Protection Agency has passed a rule that will reduce emissions.

The Clean Air Interstate Rule will permanently cap emissions of SOx and NOx. By 2015 SOx emissions in the eastern states and the District of Colombia will be cut by over 70 per cent and NOx emissions by over 60 per cent from 2003 levels.

The ruling comes after the US government’s Clear Skies initiative was defeated in a Senate Committee. Opponents said it would weaken existing clean air laws, but many now say that a similar law should be introduced nationally, as the EPA cannot force Western states to adhere to the Interstate Rule.

“We do think there is a benefit to having a national program,” said Jeff Holmstead, of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, “but our authority only extends to where we can show that pollution travels from one state to another. We can’t show that anywhere in the West.”

Largest wind award for Quebec

The largest single order for wind generation capacity has been awarded in the Canadian province of Quebec. GE Energy has signed contracts with two developers to supply up to 660 1.5 MW wind turbines for eight locations.

When the projects come online between 2006 and 2012, they will add 990 MW of wind power to Hydro-Québec.

Cartier Wind Energy will receive 740 MW of wind turbines while 250 MW will be supplied to Northland Power. The power will be generated for distribution throughout the province.

  • GE is to install seven of its 1.5 MW turbines at Fossil Gulch Wind Park, Idaho’s first utility scale wind project. The turbines will be erected on a 416 acre farmland site near Hagerman, Idaho.

DOE invests in clean coal research

In a bid to develop the world’s first zero eimssions coal fired power plant, the US Department of Energy has awarded $62.4m for 32 clean coal research projects. The DOE named four programme areas: carbon sequestration; power systems advanced research; coal fuels and hydrogen; and advanced gasification.

The Electric Power Research Institute said no single incentive can bridge the cost gap between IGCC and conventional coal plants, but packages of incentives may help investors. EPRI says power from the next few IGCC plants will cost 15-20 per cent more than that from conventional coal plants.

Argentina calls for transmission bids

Argentina is to capitalize on the generation potential in the south by building a $100m, 500 kV transmission line between Puerto Madryn and Pico Truncado. Scheduled to begin operating in July 2007, the new line will be a continuation of the 500 kV Choele Choel-Puerto Madryn line that is currently under construction.

The provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz are to pay four per cent of the costs with the federal government funding the remaining 96 per cent. The provincial governments will call for bids in the first half of June 2005 for the construction, operation and maintenance of the transmission line.

Chilean operator feels the heat

A blackout in central-southern Chile has been blamed on human error by the electric power dispatch centre CDEC SIC. It said the error, which resulted in an outage that reached the northern border of the country’s central grid, occured in the reconnection of a transmission line near the Ancoa substation. CDEC-SIC said that an “operational fault on the part of the owner” of the 500 kV line was to blame. HQI Transelec owns the line.

The government was quick to deny opposition reports linking the blackout with Argentine gas supplies and said that the country had enough power to see it through 2006.


News digest

Argentina: Energy company Capex is investigating the possibility of creating a $19bn wind project that will generate 16 000 MW of wind power. With a probable location in Santa Cruz, the power generated would be used to produce 13.3 million cubic metres a year of hydrogen.

Bolivia: A local unit of Colombia’s state transmission company, ISA, has been commissioned to carry out a $374 000 study into the possibility of creating an inter-connection with Peru. The route will transport 150 MW from Peru to Bolivia and 120 MW in the opposite direction.

Bolivia: Bids have been called by the national energy regulator, SIE, for the contract to build and operate a transmission line connecting Tarija to SIN, the national grid. The closing date for bids is 17 June.

Brazil: Two 12.3 MW biomass plants are to be built in Paraná by Areva, after it was awarded a €16.6m ($21.5m) turnkey contract by CCC Machinery. The plants will be operational by February and June 2006.

Canada: New wind projects at the Mount Miller and Mount Copper wind farms are to provide 108 MW of wind energy capacity, raising Canada’s total wind power generation capacity from 444 MW to more than 550 MW, an increase of nearly 25 per cent.

Canada: Two nuclear units at the Bruce generating station near Tiverton, Ontario, which have been shut down since the mid 1990s, could be recommissioned after operator Bruce Power reached a ‘tentative agreement’ with the province. Two units at the site have already been restarted.

Mexico: A consortium has been awarded the $500m contract to engineer, procure and construct the first LNG receipt terminal along the Pacific coast of the Americas, at Sempra Energy’s Costa Azul terminal located just north of Ensenada. The large scale terminal will be able to receive 7.6 million tonnes of LNG per year.

USA: In a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, FirstEnergy will invest $1.1bn in environmental improvements and pay an $8.5m civil penalty to the Department of Justice. Several groups brought actions against the company for the level of its emissions.

USA: Work has begun on the first geothermal generation plant to be built at Steamboat, Nevada since 1991.Sevral units are in operation at the site and when completed, the new project will bring the total output from this geothermal complex to 44 MW.