(September 2010) Capital spending and commodity prices are driving changes in financial performance. The 2010 Fortnightly 40 report shows growing success for companies with substantial unregulated assets. As the industry resumes its Big Build, regulatory relationships will determine the long-term strength of utility shareholder returns.
When Électricité de France stepped in to buy Constellation Energy’s nuclear assets and help the company avoid bankruptcy, the Maryland Public Service Commission conditioned the sale on a set of ring-fencing provisions. The industry has been using such structures to protect ratepayers in complex and high-risk M&A transactions since the 1990s. The protection isn’t foolproof, however—and it can bring problematic regulatory trade-offs.
Kiewit chooses Alstom equipment for Dominion and Northland Power plants; Abengoa Solar reaches 143 MW with thermal plant startup; S&C Electric to engineer Tessera Solar project; Canada and Hitachi cooperate on carbon sequestration; Black & Veatch to manage PSE&G smart-grid project; AEP selects OPower for customer engagement; SRP picks Elster for AMI rollout; Oncor installs millionth smart meter; plus contract and technology announcements from ABB, Arcadian Networks, Beacon Power, Catalyst Renewables, eMeter, Itron, Open Systems International, Siemens, SunEdison, Tesla Motors and
ABB buys Ventyx; Powerspan and WorleyParsons CO2 capture test results; Honeywell lands Progress Energy contract; Opower releases customer engagement platform; HECO picks Siemens for smart-grid stimulus project; and MORE.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are nuclear generating units that are about the size of railroad cars and provide about one-tenth to one-fourth the power of full-size reactors. As a result, they cost a fraction of what full-size reactors cost. The reactors are designed to provide between 40 MW and 300 MW of electric power, compared with the 1,100 to 1,700 MW output of larger reactors. In addition, most are expected to cost under $1 billion, compared with the $5 billion to $10 billion price tags of the larger units.
FEI Company, a diversified scientific instruments company providing electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications, completed a multiple system installation at the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI) in France, a utility-oriented research center financed by Electricite de France, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Kansai Electric Power Co. and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute.
New turbine technologies offer unprecedented flexibility.
Scott M. Gawlicki
If there’s an electric power project under development that best reflects the current state of the U.S. gas turbine market, it might be the Northern California Power Agency’s (NCPA) 280-MW, natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant in Lodi, Calif.
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