Exelon CEO warns of risks in push to reshape energy policy

Exelon Corp’s CEO John Rowe has warned that government efforts to wean the US economy from carbon-based energy could wind up wasting money and creating a political backlash if plans are not fully thought through.

His comments came as the US Congress pressed forward with a series of programmes that aim to reduce demand for fossil fuels.

“You need a comprehensive policy that tries to inch forward on all of these things, while not placing too big bets on any of them,” Rowe said in an interview. “You can waste hundreds of billions of dollars in energy really fast. You can’t afford that.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate could soon be debating a bill that would mandate that a larger percentage of electricity come from renewable sources, and by the summer, he aimed to start debate on imposing mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The US House of Representatives is working on parallel legislation, and the Obama administration is figuring out how to dole out billions of dollars appropriated for energy projects in the economic stimulus package.

GDF Suez continues wind energy developments in Latin America

French power and natural gas major GDF Suez has announced that it is continuing its expansion in renewable energy through developments in wind power in Latin America.

In Chile, construction of the Monte Redondo wind farm, 320 km north of Santiago, began at the start of 2009. It will have an installed capacity of 38 MW, and will cost $120m and will be operational in October 2009.

The project will reduce CO2 emissions, enabling it to register for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

The company has signed a 14-year deal to supply 100 GWh/year from Monte Redondo to CGE.

US nuclear unit goes off-line after breaking world record

Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant Unit 2 in Lusby, Maryland, USA, has been taken out of service for a scheduled refuelling outage after completing a record-breaking continuous run of 692 days, five hours and 42 minutes.

Unit 2 set a world record for continuous generation by a pressurized water nuclear reactor.

‘This phenomenal achievement is a tribute to Calvert Cliffs’ employees and their commitment to safe and reliable operation of our nuclear plants,’ said Brew Barron, executive vice president, Constellation Energy, and chief nuclear officer of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group.

Ontario’s green energy bill aims to create 50 000 jobs

The Canadian province of Ontatio’s Liberal government has said it hopes a new Green Energy Act will create 50 000 new jobs and transform the province’s struggling economy.

The new bill will make it easier to bring renewable energy projects to life and create a culture of conservation, said Energy Minister George Smitherman.

‘These two thrusts combined will support a new green economy and will create sustainable green employment for Ontarians,’ said Smitherman. ‘The (bill) will turbo-charge the creation of renewable energy and set the standard for green energy policy across this continent.’

Smitherman also vowed to ‘replace the snail’s pace with a sense of urgency’ when it comes to developing new transmission capacity, and said the bill will create a renewable energy tariff to encourage investment.

‘In layman’s terms, it means Ontario will offer an attractive price for renewable power,’ he said. ‘And we’ll guarantee that price for decades.’

Light plans to invest $272m

Brazilian power company Light plans to invest $272m in 2009, revealed company investor relations director Ronnie Vaz Moreira.

‘We intend to keep increasing our investments year after year,’ Moreira said in a webcast.

One of the company’s main focuses is to fight power losses. Light’s loses over the grid load totalled 20.23 per cent in 2008, down by 0.45 per cent from 2007. The company has been investing in conventional and new technologies to achieve the regulated loss level of 19.15 per cent.

‘Our aim is to invest around 215m Brazilian reais ($89m) to reduce power losses in 2009,’ the Light executive added.

Río Seco submits file for $750m coal fired plant

Chilean firm Río Seco has submitted an Environmental Impact Statement for a $750m coal fired plant, according to documents filed with national environmental regulator Conama.

Pending approval, the Central Termoeléctrica Pacífico would use two pulverized coal units installed 63 km south of Iquique. The plant would add 350 MW to the northern SING grid.

Around 139 000 tonne/year of ash would be stored in a nearby depository, according to the documents.

Construction is expected to last 44 months and be operational in 2012.

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Bahamas: Schneider Power has signed an agreement with Emera to jointly pursue renewable energy projects in the Bahamas, via the Bahamas Renewable Energy Corporation. Both companies will collaborate on at least three projects.

Costa Rica: Three offers were submitted to Eólico Valle Central to install a 15.3 MW wind farm in Costa Rica. The bidders were Sinohydro, Consorcio Eólico Valle Central JBM and Consorcio Eduinter-TSK. The evaluation of offers will take two to three months.

Canada: The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has completed Phase 1 of a Pre-Project Design Review of Atomic Energy of Canada’s Advanced CANDU Reactor (ACR-1000). This would be the first ACR-1000 on Canadian soil.

Canada: The St. John’s Lower Churchill hydro project is estimated to cost C$1bn ($770m) more than previously expected, but will transmit an additional 300 MW. The construction of two hydroelectric generation stations in central Labrador will transmit 3074 MW.

Mexico: Spain’s Unión Fenosa has delayed the award of contracts to supply turbines for its two wind projects in Mexico. The two contracts are for the 500 MW first phase of its Rumorosa project and its 200 MW Biioxo wind project.

USA: A plan to convert a coal fired power plant in Ashland to burn wood will cost $58.1m, Xcel Energy revealed. If the project is approved, construction would start next year and could be operating by 2012.

USA: Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation, NRG Energy and CPS Energy have signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction agreement for the delivery of two advanced boiling water reactor nuclear power plants at a South Texas Project.

USA: The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium has begun drilling the injection well for their large-scale CO2 injection test in Decatur, Illinois.

USA: Pacific Gas and Electric Company have submitted plans for a five-year programme to develop up to 500 MW of clean solar PV power in its northern and central California service area, one of the largest undertakings of its kind in the country.