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Fortnightly Magazine - July 2011

Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have helped to uncover the nanoscale structure of a novel form of carbon, contributing to an explanation of why this new material acts like a super-absorbent sponge when it comes to soaking up electric charge. The material, which was recently created at the University of Texas-Austin, can be incorporated into supercapacitor energy-storage devices while retaining other attractive attributes such as superfast energy release, quick recharge time, and a lifetime of at least 10,000 charge-discharge cycles. Scientists say the processing techniques used to create the new form of carbon are readily scalable to industrial production.

Tesla Motors and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have joined U.S. DRIVE , a voluntary government-industry partnership focused on research and development of electric vehicles and related infrastructure technology. The Department of Energy also announced that the research consortium was being re-named from the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership to U.S. DRIVE, which stands for Driving Research and Innovation for Vehicle efficiency and Energy sustainability.

M&A

Constellation Energy acquired a 25-MW solar generation project in Sacramento, Calif., from photovoltaic power plant developer Belectric Inc. The system will be comprised of approximately 381,000 First Solar thin film photovoltaic panels, ground-mounted at multiple sites near the city of Sacramento. Constellation will own and operate the system and sell the electricity generated from it to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) under multiple 20-year power purchase agreements. The project is expected to be commercially operational by the end of 2011. The transaction was arranged by Smart Energy Capital LLC.

Spectra Energy Partners entered an agreement with EQT Corp. to acquire all of the ownership interests of Big Sandy Pipeline, a federally regulated natural gas pipeline system in eastern Kentucky, for $390 million in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Big Sandy Pipeline has 171 million cubic feet per day of capacity and is approximately 70 miles long. EQT will be the main shipper on the pipeline, with over 80 percent of the pipeline’s capacity under firm, 16-year transportation agreements. Big Sandy Pipeline’s interconnect with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system links the Huron Shale and Appalachian Basin natural gas supplies to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets.

Duke Energy Renewables purchased the Shirley wind power project from a subsidiary of Central Hudson Enterprises . The wind farm is located on approximately 500 acres of leased land in Glenmore, 30 miles southeast of Green Bay, Wisc. The project, which began commercial operation in December 2010, sells all of its output and associated renewable energy credits to Wisconsin Public Service under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Exelon acquired Wolf Hollow , a combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant in north Texas, from Sequent Wolf Hollow for $305 million, as adjusted for working capital. The transaction adds 720 MW to Exelon’s fleet in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) power market, where the company owns and operates three other natural gas-fired power plants. Wolf Hollow, located near Granbury, Texas, began operation in August 2003. It’s equipped with two Mitsubishi combined-cycle gas turbines and serves the Dallas and Fort Worth areas. Exelon currently