CDC leads buy-out of Latin American portfolio

CDC Capital Partners, the UK-based emerging markets risk capital investor, has led the acquisition of Entergy’s stakes in three investor-owned power businesses in Latin America. CDC is investing $70m, out of a total of $135.5m, with Scudder Latin America Power Fund II acting as co-investor.

CDC has reiterated its strategic commitment to its power sector in emerging markets, through the acquisition of attractively priced equity stakes in private power companies. This comes at a time when most North US and European power companies are divesting.

The deal comprises Entergy’s stakes in Edegel in Peru together with the San Isidro IPP in Chile and the Costanera/CBA generation company in Argentina. Edegel is the country’s largest privately owned generation company.

‘Rapid City Tie’ link ordered for USA

ABB has won a $50m order to install a new high voltage direct current (HDVC) transmission system that will increase power exchange between eastern and western power grids by 200 MW in US.

Under the terms of the contract, ABB will design, build and install the system connecting the two grids for a consortium of two US utilities – Basin Electric Power of Bismark, North Dakota and Black Hills Power, of Rapid City, South Dakota.

The HDVC link, dubbed ‘Rapid City Tie’, will be used by both utilities to expand services to their respective markets.

“The Rapid City Tie demonstrates how HVDC transmission systems can rapidly provide a utility customer with needed capacity,” said Richard Siudek, executive vice president and head of ABB Utilities division.

Nevada battles to dump nuke

Nevada stepped up its campaign against burying nuclear waste in the state when the governor vetoed a presidential endorsement. Activists are now readying a lobbying campaign to reinforce the governor’s action.

In February, President Bush picked Yucca Mountain as the place to entomb up to 77 000 t of spent nuclear fuel that will remain radioactive for 10 000 years. The site is 145 km northwest of Las Vegas.

A veto of the president’s endorsement was signed by Republican Kenny Guinnand and was delivered to the House and Senate.

An Energy Department spokesman said the Yucca Mountain project has received a thorough review by Scientists. He noted: “It is strongly in the interest of national security, energy and homeland security, and environmental protection to move forward and not leave waste stranded in 131 scattered sites around the country.”

Caribbean power stations seek buyers

Buyers are being sought for two Caribbean power stations in which Enron has a stake.

The Dominican Republic government is considering whether it will purchase a 185 MW power plant at Puerto Plata, or sell it to a private investor.

In Puerto Rico, the managers of the power sector are keen to find a buyer for a plant that is half-owned by Enron, following the collapse of negotiations for its purchase by Mirant.

Enron says it is owed $27.2m by the Dominican Republic government for power it has supplied.

California crisis wholesale rates ‘unreasonable’

Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed complaints against four power companies, alleging that they charged unjust, unreasonable and illegal rates for electricity during California’s recent energy crisis.

He said: “We’re attacking illegal profiteering from California’s energy crisis on two fronts. We want FERC to order refunds for wholesale electricity sold at illegal prices in California and we are seeking to make power plants pay a penalty for their illegal profiteering.”

Filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the complaints against Mirant, Williams, Powerex and Coral Power allege violations of California’s Unfair Competition Act that are subject to civil penalties of up to $2500 for each violation. The complaints relate to hundreds of thousands of sales in 2000 and 2001, and could result in civil penalties of over $1bn.

FPL expands wind

FPL Energy has signed an agreement with Vestas Wind Systems for 175 wind turbines, with an option for an additional 650 turbines.

Delivery will begin this year and will support the expansion of projects already underway. Ron Green, president of FPL Energy, said: “Wind projects will be a major element of our expansion activity in 2002 and 2003. We expect to add 1000-2000 MW of wind power to our portfolio by the end of next year.”

News digest

Brazil: The Brazilian power generator Cat-Leo Energia launched the construction of five small-scale hydropower projects in the state of Minas Gerais. Total installed capacity will be 99 MW and the project cost is around $71m.

Brazil: Westinghouse Process Control has been selected to provide its ovation information and control system for expanded generating capacity in Brazil. The company will install the equipment at the new Tres Largoas facility in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, through a contract between the project’s architect/engineer, Promon, and Emerson Process Management of Brazil.

Canada: Thermal Energy International, which suffered a setback last year when a coal-fired power plant in Ohio scrapped its pollution-reduction experiment, said it has completed the design of a pilot plant and expects to announce the location shortly.

Chile: GE Power systems has acquired full ownership of a GE-AES Gener joint venture based in Santiago, Chile which offers a broad range of services for power plants.The joint venture, servicios Intergrales de Generacion de Energia Electrica (Sigen), was owned 60 per cent by GE and 40 per cent by AES Gener, and will be integrated into GE power Systems’ energy services business.

US: The team of Framatome ANP and Entergy has been awarded a contract to provide license renewal management to AEP’s Cook Nuclear Power plant at Bridgman, MI, making the Framatome/Entergy team the largest provider of license renewal services to the US nuclear power industry.

US: Metso Automation was recently awarded an order for MaxDNA Plant Automation System to be installed at the Elmer Smith Power Station in Owensboro Kentucky. The station is a 430 MW coal-fired plant with two units and flue gas desulphurization.

US: NRG Energy cancelled its agreement to buy $230m worth of assets from utility Conectiv, enabling NRG to further stabalize its balance sheet. Minneapolis-based NRG agreed to buy 794 MW of electric generating plants from Atlantic City Electric Company, a subsidiary of Wilmington, Delaware-based Conectiv. Conectiv said it may conduct another auction for the assets.

US: NASA has installed an enterprise energy management system to control power usage and reduce costs at its Ames Research Center facility near San Francisco, CA,. The Ames Power Monitoring System monitors power usage throughout the centre, including the facility’s three large wind tunnels.