PJM’s latest crisis—the underfunding of financial transmission rights that we’ve seen over the last few years—pushes regulators right to the edge. How far do they trust wholesale power markets? Do they accept the idea, proven by a famous economist, that freely traded financial instruments can work just as well—better even—than firm, physical contract rights?
Engineers and constructors adapt to serve an industry in transition.
Michael T. Burr
From gas pipelines to PV arrays, the nation’s contractors are seeing growth in utility infrastructure. Fortnightly talks with executives at engineering and construction firms to learn what kinds of projects are moving forward, where they’re located, and what lies over the horizon.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission announced it will re-examine the proposed 78-MW Goodhue wind project in Goodhue County, given changes in ownership structure, financing, date of service, and operating elements. New Era (formerly AWA Goodhue), the current project owner, and Xcel Energy, the power purchaser, are re-negotiating project milestones, including the in-service date.
Independent microgrids are coming. Will franchised utilities fight them or foster them?
Sara C. Bronin and Paul R. McCary
Despite offering a range of benefits, microgrids are proving to be controversial—especially when non-utility owned microgrids seek to serve multiple customers. The biggest battles are taking place in the realm of public policy. But utilities that pursue collaboration rather than confrontation are finding interesting opportunities for profitable investment.
Distribution utilities could become an important source of renewable funding.
Distribution utilities are well positioned to provide tax equity for renewable projects, but some state laws prevent it. Tapping the potential will require progressive leadership by utility executives and regulators.
Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, BP Wind Energy and community leaders dedicated the new Auwahi wind facility on Ulupalakua Ranch in Hawaii. The 21-MW Auwahi Wind facility is BP and Sempra’s first alternative energy venture in Hawaii. The project features a 4.4-MWh grid battery system, which at its peak, can sustain 11 MW of capacity for approximately 25 minutes. The battery system helps regulate and sustain power to Maui Electric Co.’s grid during light wind conditions.
Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy's Commercial Businesses, completed its 36-MW energy storage and power management system at its Notrees Windpower Project in west Texas. The system completed testing and became fully operational in December 2012. Xtreme Power designed and installed the 36-MW capacity Dynamic Power Resource at Notrees and will continue to operate the system.
EDF Renewable Energy, formerly enXco, started operations at the 150-MW Bobcat Bluff wind project in Archer County, 20 miles south of Wichita Falls, Texas. The project, consisting of 100 GE 1.5-MW turbines, spans about 12,500 contiguous acres. EDF Renewable Services will operate and maintain the facility, while EDF Trading provides energy management services and acts as the qualified scheduling entity.
Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo wind project in Southern California began commercial operation, transmitting energy to the Sunrise Powerlink, a newly constructed 117-mile 500-kv transmission line connecting San Diego and the Imperial Valley. The 265-MW Ocotillo project in Imperial Valley has 94 turbines now operational. An additional 18 turbines are expected to be installed in the spring of 2013.
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