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News Digest

Mergers & Acquisitions
Fortnightly Magazine - May 15 2000

electric utilities under sec. 1605b of the Energy Policy Act of 1992:

  • CO2 emission from electric power plants increased by more than 15 percent between 1990 and 1998.
  • Utilities reported 120 million tons of emission reductions for 1998, which, given the continuing increases in actual emissions during the 1990s, "is not plausible."
  • . For those utility companies reporting the largest CO2 reductions and identifying the source of such reductions, some 90 percent of the reductions were attributable to greater nuclear output.
  • Only a small fraction of reported emission reductions are attributable to improvements in heat rates at coal-fired power plants.
  • If heat-rate improvements at coal-fired units are accompanied by increased dispatch, then system-wide emission are likely to increase, rather than fall.

Gen. Richard Lawson, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, countered that a consortium of U.S. and Canadian coal interests and researchers at the Los Alamos laboratory (known as the Zero Emission Coal Alliance, or ZECA) plans within five years to release a pilot project using a technology that would create hydrogen from a coal-water slurry for use in fuel cells, producing a "pure stream" of CO2 that could be permanently sequestered through a chemical reaction with magnesium oxide.

For testimony of other witnesses, from the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, National Academy of Sciences, and others, see http://energy.senate. gov/hearings.

Electric System Reliability. Sen. Murkowski also held hearings April 11 on S.2098, the Electric Power Market Competition and Reliability Act, where General Counsel David Cook of the North American Electric Reliability Council repeated findings of a recent NERC survey that several control area operators in the Eastern Interconnection were "leaning" on the interconnection during nine peak hours (i.e., selling energy that they didn't have).

Cook cited Cinergy as "the most serious." As he noted, "Cinergy's 'Inadvertent Interchange,' a measure of the difference between Cinergy's generation plus scheduled purchases and sales, ranged from minus 79 megawatts to minus 1,656 MW during the nine hours, averaging more than 1,000 MW. ... During the nine-hour NERC survey, the lowest frequency noted was 59.9524 hertz. ... Under-frequency load shedding begins at 59.82 Hz, with about 10 percent of every control area's customer load automatically disconnected with no warning to customers."


Nuclear Power

License Renewal. A federal appeals court turned down a bid by an advocacy group to review a decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that had denied permission to the group to intervene in the relicensing case for the Calvert Cliffs, Md. nuclear plant, after the group had failed to meet a deadline that had already been extended once, and after the NRC clearly had announced a policy of not granting extensions except in "unavoidable and extreme circumstances."

Earlier, on March 23, the NRC had announced that it had renewed the operating licenses for the two units of the Calvert Cliffs plant for an additional 20 years, the first license extensions granted to a commercial nuclear plant.


State PUCs

Distributed Generation. On April 12, led by staffers Jay Morse and Anthony Mazy,