Vendor Neutral

Fortnightly Magazine - September 2012


Dominion Virginia Power started up the 585-MW Virginia City circulating fluidized bed power plant in July.

Panda Energy awarded a $300 million turnkey contract to Siemens and Bechtel Power to supply the Panda Temple power project, a 758-MW gas-fired, combined-cycle facility in Temple, Texas. The order includes a long-term service agreement. Siemens will deliver the Siemens Flex-Plant 30 power island, including two gas turbines, one steam turbine, three generators, and instrumentation and control systems. Bechtel will be responsible for balance-of-plant engineering and procurement as well as facility installation, construction, and commissioning. Startup is scheduled for 2014.

Dominion Virginia Power placed the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in southwest Virginia into commercial operation in July, on budget and on schedule following four years of construction. The $1.8-billion circulating fluidized bed (CFB) project uses coal, waste coal, and biomass to generate 585 MW. Dominion says the plant is among the cleanest U.S. coal-fired power generators, with one of the nation’s strictest air permits.

Corrections officials dedicated a landfill gas-fired cogeneration plant installed by Johnson Controls at the State Correctional Institution at LaurelHighlands. The Pennsylvania facility burns gas from the nearby Mostoller landfill to eliminate the prison’s need to use coal-fired boilers. Excess electricity produced by the plant is sold into the power grid. In addition to the cogeneration plant, Johnson Controls implemented a number of facility upgrades to optimize energy and water use, including roofing, lighting, windows, plumbing, and hot water tank upgrades.

The City of Covington, Tenn., contracted PHG Energy to install biomass gasification equipment and technology for a $2.25 million waste-to-energy system using a range of waste fuels. The biomass gasification system will be built adjacent to Covington’s wastewater treatment plant, converting approximately 12 tons of waste per day—primarily woody biomass—into energy. Biosolids from the treatment plant also are being investigated as a possible fuel source. PHG’s technology uses downdraft gasification technology with thermal oxidation equipment and a 125-kW organic Rankine cycle generator to produce electric power. PGH Energy says emissions from the system will be comparable to the use of natural gas.

The latest inspection report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission indicates steam generator tube wear at the San Onofre nuclear plant was caused by excessive vibration under certain circumstances.

Southern California Edison (SCE) received the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Augmented Inspection Team report regarding the unusual degradation of steam generator tubes in the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Units 2 and 3. The report says the tube-to-tube contact arises from excessive vibration of the tubes in certain areas of the steam generators, resulting from a combination of factors, including steam velocity, moisture content of the steam, and effectiveness of support structures. The report notes that SCE plant operators responded in a manner that protected public health and safety, and that the commission’s onsite inspectors observed conservative decision-making and the appropriate questioning attitude displayed by the operators during the event. SCE continues to work on its response to the commission’s confirmatory action letter, the formal step in the process of restarting Units 2 and 3. Both SONGS units are currently shut down for inspections, analysis and testing.

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) and Lockheed Martin agreed to jointly develop a 19-MW wave-energy project off the coast of Portland in Victoria, Australia. This is one of the largest wave-energy projects announced to date, and will be financed in part with a US$65.3 million grant from the Commonwealth of Australia. For the project, Lockheed Martin will assist with OPT PowerBuoy project design and system integration, and will support overall project management. In addition to the grant from the Commonwealth of Australia’s Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, the partners are assessing financing opportunities and pursuing power purchase agreements with local utilities and industrial customers. Lockheed Martin and OPT began collaborating in 2004, first on the development of an advanced system for the U.S. Navy, and most recently to design and launch utility-scale wave energy converters off the coast of Reedsport, Ore.

Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas signed a deal to maintain and service the turbines at five U.S. wind farms owned by Infigen of Australia. The agreements cover 564 1-MW turbines across wind farms in four states. Mitsubishi will provide extended warranties, turbine maintenance services, and replacement components for the turbines until March 30, 2017, superseding original equipment manufacturers’ warranties for some of the turbines. Mitsubishi will be responsible for all turbine maintenance costs, including labor and component replacements for a fixed cost per turbine, subject to liability caps. Mitsubishi also is providing turbine availability guarantees backed by liquidated damages provisions, with performance payments if turbine availability exceeds prescribed levels.

Bechtel Power awarded a contract to Unirac to supply the ground mount system for the 110-MW Catalina photovoltaic (PV) project in Kern County, Calif. The project is expected to be one of the largest PV ground mount installations in North America, covering 1,100 acres. Completion is scheduled for 2013.

ITC Great Plains commissioned the Hugo-Valliant HVDC transmission line and substation project in Oklahoma.


Candu Energy signed an agreement with Enertech to jointly provide passive autocatalytic recombiner (PAR) technology to the nuclear industry in the United States and select international markets. Enertech will focus on sales and marketing of PARs offered by Candu for use inside the containment buildings of nuclear power plants and other facilities where hydrogen gas can collect and create an explosive atmosphere. PARs activate without the need for external power or operator action, preventing hydrogen buildup. 

FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) completed construction of the emergency operations facility for its Perry nuclear power plant. The new 12,000-square-foot facility supports overall management of activities related to maintaining public health and safety during a plant emergency. The facility also will be used during quarterly training drills and bi-annual exercises evaluated by the NRC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Features include: enhanced environmental data monitoring and collection technologies; an online database for sharing plant conditions and other event information in real time between emergency responders; and updated computer equipment and telecommunications technology. Multiple power supplies ensure the facility won’t be affected by a power failure. Located in Concord, Ohio, the facility replaces an existing emergency operations facility located on site at the Perry plant.


Southern Company and Turner Renewable Energy acquired from SunEdison a 20-MW PV power plant on a 154-acre site in the City of North Las Vegas, Nev. SunEdison will be responsible for ongoing operations and maintenance. Construction of the solar array began in October 2011 and startup is expected during the third quarter of 2012. The project will consist of approximately 88,000 polycrystalline solar modules provided by Trina Solar. Nevada Power will buy the output under a 25-year agreement.

The first three wireless EV charging systems were installed on Nissan LEAFs as part of the Plugless Power program. The systems use electromagnetic induction to charge EV batteries without driver interaction.

Algonquin Power paid $29.7 million to acquire an interest in the Sandy Ridge (Penn.) wind farm, the first of four projects comprising a 480-MW wind portfolio under construction by Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica, S.A. in the United States. Sandy Ridge, which achieved commercial operation in February 2012, is comprised of 25 Gamesa G9X-2.0 MW wind turbines and has a 10-year power sales contract with J.P. Morgan Ventures. Gamesa will provide operations, warranty, and maintenance services for the wind turbines and balance-of-plant facilities under a 20-year contract. Algonquin says it will fund the acquisition with approximately 40 percent debt and 60 percent equity.

Algonquin subsidiary Liberty Utilities completed its $285 million acquisition of National Grid’s natural gas and electric distribution businesses in New Hampshire. The final state and federal regulatory approvals needed to complete the transaction were granted this past May. The sale was originally announced in December 2010.

Consolidated Edison Development (CED) acquired two PV projects totaling 70 MW from GCL Solar Energy, a subsidiary of GCL-Poly Energy Holdings. The projects in California’s Central Valley are scheduled to begin commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2012. CED will own and operate the projects and sell power and renewable energy certificates to Pacific Gas & Electric under 25-year power purchase agreements.

Smart Grid

Grid Net added new features to its software to support public cellular and other smart grid network communications systems. The Grid Net Platform v2.7—a centrally managed, distributed smart grid network operating system—now supports more point-to-point public and private broadband networks, including 4G WiMAX, 4G LTE, Ethernet over fiber, and 3G UMTS, and EVDO CDMA. The software features an application framework for machine-to-machine network optimization, content distribution optimization and control, off-peak network utilization, differential state synchronization, and configurable connectivity.


Survalent Technology commissioned a new SCADA system at Paulding Putnam ElectricCooperative (PPEC) in northwestern Ohio and Indiana. The SCADA system is equipped with several of Survalent’s applications.


ITC Great Plains, in conjunction with Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), commissioned its Hugo-Valliant high-voltage electric transmission line and substation project in southeastern Oklahoma. The 18-mile, 345-kV line and substation is expected to reduce system congestion, provide more efficient and cost-effective transmission of energy, and increase access to a broader range of generation resources. The substation, near WFEC’s Hugo power plant, provides a link to the WFEC 138-kV transmission system.

ABB successfully developed and tested a 1,100-kV ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) converter transformer, which the company says broke the record for the highest DC voltage levels ever. The technology is intended to allow efficient transmission of larger amounts of power over longer distances—namely, more than 10,000 MW of power across distances as long as 3,000 km. These figures compare with ABB’s largest commercial UHVDC system, the 800-kV Xiangjiaba-Shanghai link, with a capacity of 6,400 MW and extending just over 2,000 km.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a $60 million Xcel Energy plan for Clovis-area transmission upgrades to improve reliability in the region—which is also the site for the planned $1.5 billion landmark Tres Amigas project. If completed, Tres Amigas would tie together the Eastern, Western, and ERCOT grids for the first time. The Xcel plan involves the construction of the new Pleasant Hill substation northeast of Clovis and two new 230-kV transmission lines that will connect Pleasant Hill with the existing Roosevelt County and Oasis substations, which also are targeted for capacity upgrades. The improvements were among a group of capacity projects identified by the Southwest Power Pool in a 2009 reliability study.


CoServ Electric, an electric cooperative in Texas, selected the Ecologic Analytics meter data management (MDM) system for its advanced metering and distribution technology initiative. CoServ chose Ecologic Analytics MDM to integrate with its Landis+Gyr metering systems and back-office systems.


Prairie Land Electric Cooperative engaged KamTech Systems and Clevest Solutions to support its project to replace 16,000 mechanical meters and upgrade 9,000 electronic meters in northern Kansas with new Landis+Gyr units. Meter technicians use handheld devices throughout the day to complete orders, and at the end of the day information is synchronized with the Clevest system and then updated in Prairie Land’s customer information system. 

Cedar Falls Utilities selected Tantalus as the technology platform to support the utility’s existing fiber-to-the-home and wireless broadband networks. Cedar Falls chose Tantalus to implement an initial deployment of advanced metering infrastructure using Itron meters. The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities contributed to the project with funds from a U.S. DOE grant.

Concho Valley Electric Cooperative installed the FlexNet utility communications network from Sensus as part of a distribution system upgrade in a 10-county territory surrounding San Angelo, Texas. The FlexNet long-range radio system communicates via dedicated, primary-use, FCC-protected spectrum. Full deployment started in August and will be completed by late fall 2012. The project calls for installation of 13,000 Sensus iCON electric meters, mostly in residential applications. Fourteen base stations and antennas will create a network canopy covering more than 4,000 square miles of mainly rural terrain.

Nebraska City Utilities selected Elster’s Q Sonic Plus meters for its natural gas transmission main extension to areas south and west of Nebraska City and a service line to an Omaha Public Power District power plant. The Q Sonic Plus meters provide comprehensive measurement of gas flow, with the capability to operate in both upstream and downstream environments.

EVs & Storage

Evatran completed the first three installations of its Plugless Power wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging technology with Apollo Launch partners—including the Hertz Corp., Duke Energy, and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Evatran says the installations on Nissan LEAF vehicles are the first passenger EVs in the world with full wireless charging capability. The Plugless Power partners are testing wireless charging technology on their Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF vehicles, in a variety of applications. The Plugless Power technology is based on electromagnetic induction with Evatran control software and coil designs to extend efficient power transfer over an air gap of as much as seven inches. The prototypes charge the vehicles without user interaction as quickly as traditional corded chargers, and function at over 90-percent efficiency, according to Evatran.

IEEE launched the IEEE Transportation Electrification Web Portal at as part of its newly formed IEEE Transportation Electrification (TE) initiative, created to accelerate development and implementation of new technologies and innovations in electrified transportation. The web portal provides information on a cross-section of topics, including the latest advancements related to electrified transportation for air, land, and water.


The supervisory board of DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability appointed Nina Skorupska as a member. Skorupska is CTO and an executive board member at Dutch utility Essent.

American Utility Management (AUM) appointed Joseph R. Stackhouse COO. Previously Stackhouse was a senior v.p., customer operations at Charter Communications.

Utility Integration Solutions (UISOL) hired smart energy expert Mehrdod Mohseni as a senior v.p. Mohseni was chief marketing officer at GE Digital Energy.

Energy Services

ConEdison Solutions (CES) launched an information tool to help the company’s partners serve their commercial and industrial end users. The web portal, called e-channel, provides an environment for CES partners to view and analyze energy and customer portfolio data, helping to identify emerging opportunities for cost savings and other energy-related trends.

Lime Energy completed the Allegheny County Energy Program for Municipalities, a retrofit effort with more than 16,000 energy conservation measures, including lighting retrofits, automatic control installations, domestic water upgrades, hot water tank retrofits and building envelope—weatherization—enhancements. Improvements were made at 75 municipality-owned facilities, which Lime Energy says will save the county about 2.3 million kW hours of electricity and 30,000 gallons of water annually, reducing its utility bills by more than $300,000 per year. The project was funded in part by a $2 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (US DOE), and a $400,000 grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation.