Why merchant transmission still looks iffy.
Bruce W. Radford is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
The other week, courtesy of Infocast and its Transmission Summit 2002, held in Washington, D.C. in late January, I got to see, hear, and ask questions of three emerging stars of the merchant transmission biz:
- Ed Krapels (CFO for the undersea Neptune project)
- José Rotger (regulatory manager for TransÉnergie US, sponsor of the Lake Erie Link, Cross Sound Cable, and HarborCable projects), and
- Brad Vaughan (spokesman for TAGG, the Transamerica Generation Grid, sponsored by Black & Veatch and Siemens).
I heard of daring plans-of high‑tech, high‑voltage DC lines that would break the mold. But later I succumbed to nagging doubt. I want to believe, but the dream seems just out of reach.
A year ago Krapels touted Neptune as a way to import existing gas‑fired generating capacity from the Canadian maritimes into notorious load pockets like Boston. But last week Krapels told me that Sithe Energies may have all the profits locked up for a downtown Boston location with its planned gas‑fired Mystic 8 and 9 units. Each is rated at 800 MWs and is set to open as soon as 2003. Krapels now eyes New York City, or perhaps even SW Connecticut, the place described by Stephen Whitley (sr. v.p. and COO for ISO New England) as the top trouble spot for power delivery in New England. Yet others have warned me of fierce competition for building lines into Manhattan. There's Neptune, there's PS&G's CrossHudson project, and then Rotger's planned HarborCable.