TVA moving ahead with Babcock & Wilcox mPower small modular reactor; Bechtel begins refueling and uprate work at Xcel's Monticello plant; NRG starts operations at 66-MW PV facility; NIST starts developing cybersecurity framework under presidential order; BPA to upgrade HVDC converter station; PacifiCorp working with CAISO to create real-time energy market; Cupertino Electric to install 230-kV line for 200-MW PV plant; plus contracts and announcements from Alstom, Siemens, Echelon, EPRI, Sempra, and others.
(January 2013) Dominion Virginia Power contracts Alstom for HRSGs at 1,300-MW Brunswick County station; Entergy acquires KGen plants; San Diego Gas & Electric installs new outage management system; ChargePoint enters reseller agreement with Service Solutions; Saft to install battery storage project at High Wind project in Saskatchewan; NRG’s eVgo finalizes plans for California charging network; plus contracts and announcements from ABB, ADT, Elster, Itron, ElectroIndustries, Opower, Panasonic, FirstEnergy, PacifiCorp, and others.
Planning ahead in a low-cost gas market.
Julie Ryan and Julie Lieberman
IIt’s ironic that in today’s market, as the cost of hedging against commodity price increases has declined, support for utility hedging programs has sunk to a historic low. The ideal time to hedge is when prices are low and markets are relatively calm, because that’s when hedging costs and risks are the lowest. Conversely, waiting until prices rise and markets become volatile will expose customers to higher costs. Convincing regulators to approve hedging programs now will require a collaborative approach to educating and enlisting support from stakeholders.
Distribution management at the smart grid frontier.
The hype over smart grid has become focused on the idea of “advanced distribution management systems” (ADMS). But so far, few utilities have implemented ADMS beyond pilots and incremental tests. Fortnightly analyzes the technology trends and profiles examples of true ADMS in action.
In the Pacific Northwest, you either spill water or spill wind.
The wind power industry has been up in arms ever since the Bonneville Power Administration earlier this year announced its Interim Environmental Redispatch and Negative Pricing Policy. That policy, applicable during periods of high spring runoff and heavy water flow volumes on the Federal Columbia River Power System, calls for BPA to redispatch and curtail access to transmission for wind power generating turbines, and to replace that resource with hydroelectric power generated via BOA hydroelectric dams, in order to avoid having to divert water through dam spillways, which could threaten fish and wildlife by creating excess levels of Total Dissolved Gas (TDG), which can cause Gas Bubble Trauma. Yet the legal issue remains unclear: Does this practice imply discrimination in the provision of transmission service, or is it simply a matter of system balancing and generation dispatch? In fact, the FERC may lack jurisdiction over the dispute, as it pertains to the fulfillment of BPA’s statutory mandates.
Why the green grid might do better without open access.
Are the Feds at war with green power development? You might have thought so, if you had sat through the conference held March 15, 2011, at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where the consensus seemed to be that FERC’s policy of granting open-access rights on electric transmission lines is problematic for green power projects. In short, when wind and solar developers choose to build their own local tie lines to link their projects to the larger grid, FERC policy forces them to make extra line capacity available to rival developers. That requirement doomed the novel Wind Spirit Project, and continues to complicate the job of project financing.
(April 2010) MidAmerican Energy Holdings announced the appointment of Michael Dunn as president of PacifiCorp Energy. NiSource Inc. announced that Jimmy D. Staton, executive v.p. and group CEO of NiSource’s gas distribution business, also will assume the added responsibility of leading the NiSource Indiana utilities, including Northern Indiana Public Service. Vectren chose Carl L. Chapman to serve as CEO. And others.
ITC and AEP jockey for the lead in building the grid of tomorrow.
On February 9, a group of the nation’s major grid system operators released a study estimating the nation’s electric industry sector needs to spend some $80 billion—more than 10 times the size of that portion of the Obama stimulus package directed specifically at transmission construction—in order to achieve a 20 percent retail penetration for renewable wind energy in just the Eastern Interconnection.