|Greenhouse gases may be regulated|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution from new power plants. The proposal does not apply to plants currently operating or new permitted plants that begin construction over the next 12 months.
The proposed rule has been in the making for years and would require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants, however, emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the Administration is aware of 15 coal plants that are in the permitting process or currently under construction. According to the proposal, these plants would already comply with the standard. EPA does not project additional cost for industry to comply with this proposed standard.
The power sector currently accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
State court reverses Southern Co. coal project approval
The Mississippi Supreme Court on March 15 reversed an approval for a $2.8 billion coal gasification project in Mississippi. Southern Co. is developing the Kemper County project.
In a 9-0 vote, the state Supreme Court said the Mississippi Public Service Commission's May 2010 approval failed to satisfy state law that the plant would benefit the utility’s customers, and sent the case back to the PSC.
Mississippi Power is already constructing the 582-MW integrated gasification combined-cycle power plant, which has been awarded more than $680 million in federal grants and tax incentives, including $270 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s clean coal power initiative.
TVA cuts workforce at nuclear project
|Bellefonte nuclear project|
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it is reducing the number of contractors supporting its 1,260-MW Bellefonte nuclear plant project. TVA said this decision was made to better match resources with current business needs.
About 900 contractors support the Bellefonte project, with almost half of the contractors working at the site and the remainder in satellite offices at other locations. Of the 430 affected contractor positions, 85 work at the Bellefonte site.
"Bellefonte is integral to building a balanced energy portfolio and TVA being a leader in safe, clean and reliable nuclear energy production," says David Stinson, vice president, Bellefonte project. "However, with construction at Bellefonte not beginning until fuel is loaded at Watts Bar 2, we are resetting priorities at the site."
Idaho Power seeks changes to renewable energy contracts
Idaho Power Co. is seeking permission to stop buying renewable energy through the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). The utility said it is paying excessive prices for power that comes from renewable resources.
Passed by Congress in 1978, PURPA was written to encourage small, sustainable power production and assure a market for renewable ventures. Idaho Public Utilities Commission is currently studying PURPA rates and policies and is expected to complete the review in the summer or fall.
Specifically, the utility has seen a rush on wind production. The company seeks several changes, all of which it argues will keep rates from rising, which could occur from implementing a higher amount of renewable energy. One proposed change would shorten PURPA contracts from lasting 20 years to five.
Another change would be setting a stricter schedule on when a contract is legally enforceable. The company wants to base all PURPA pricing — not just wind — more on the company’s need for energy.
Wind power advocates described Idaho Power’s action as "an attack on wind energy."
Solar installations top 2010 numbers
|Solar installations increase.|
The U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 MW of photovoltaic capacity in 2011, more than doubling the previous annual record of 887 MW set in 2010, according to a U.S. Solar Market Insight report.
The solar installations represent a 109 percent increase in 2011, and this marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped 1 GW in a single year.
In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, the industry installed 755 MW, up 115 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association estimate the U.S. solar market’s total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.
This growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar PV system prices, which fell 20 percent last year. In addition, the anticipated expiration of the U.S. government’s 1603 Treasury Program, which ended Dec. 31, 2011, drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year.
California leads the U.S. in installed solar capacity with 542 MW in 2011, followed by New Jersey with 313 MW and Arizona with 273 MW.
PG&E to pay $70mn for 2010 pipeline accident
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. agreed to pay the city of San Bruno, Calif., $70 million in restitution after a September 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people.
The agreement calls for a $70 million payment to be made by PG&E.
The city is expected to use the money to establish a non-profit entity to manage the funds and determine how they will be used. PG&E also made a $100 million commitment to restore the neighborhood, compensate victims for their losses and replace and repair the city's infrastructure.
"San Bruno has suffered through a terrible tragedy and we understand that this accident will affect this community forever," Chris Johns, PG&E’s president, said. "We will continue to work with the victims and the community as a whole to address their needs."
A natural gas pipeline ruptured on Sept. 9, 2011, sending fire into a neighborhood.
Eight were killed, dozens injured and 38 homes destroyed in the accident.
Solartec announces 10 MW solar park in Mexico
Mexican solar developer Solartec Energia Renovable announced plans to build a 10-MW solar photovoltaic park in Hermosillo, Senora.
The park, known as "La Ciudad del Conocimiento" will use 55,000 of Solartec's solar panels, manufactured at its plant in Irapuato, Guanajuato.
The solar complex is also intended to serve as a place of research for scientists from Chihuahua, Baja California, Southern California, Sinaloa and Sonora.
Institutions that plan to join the research conducted at the solar facility include the University of Sonora (Unison), the center of studies superiors of the State of Sonora (Cesues), the Institute Technological de Hermosillo, Universidad Tecnológica de Hermosillo and the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.
Mercury emissions reduced by 26 percent
|Zoning approved for coal plant.|
A new report from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation says mercury and its compounds from the North American electricity generation sector fell about 26 percent between 2006 and 2009.
The data indicates that reported industrial releases and transfers of emissions across North America in 2009 totaled 5.4 million tons, a 14 percent decrease from the 6.3 million tons reported in each of the three previous years.
Trends in releases and transfers of emissions, including the decreased mercury emissions, and from various industry sectors will be analyzed in the 14th annual edition of the Taking Stock report, which will be released later this year.
Zoning approved for coal-fired power plant
The Dendron Town Council in Virginia reaffirmed land-use changes for Old Dominion Electric Co-op's (ODEC) plan to build a $5 billion coal-fired power plant.
Preliminary plans for the Cypress Creek Power Station call for one or two coal- and biomass-fired generators capable of producing 750 to 1,500 MW of electricity.
The zoning change and land-use requests were granted after hearings and a vote by the Dendron Town Council in early 2010. Opponents of the plant filed suit, claiming that the public hearing was incorrectly advertised. The Circuit Court of Surry County ruled in favor of the plaintiffs Nov. 17, saying the hearing advertisement was insufficient and the original vote to allow the rezoning was thus invalid.
ODEC's board voted in December 2011 to begin the process anew after examining several possible courses of action.
Corrections: In the February issue of Power Engineering, Fig. 1 on page 26 contained an incorrect number. "0.1" should have been "0.7."
In the February issue, a product from Kluber Lubricants was misidentified. The biodegradable ester oil is called Klubersynth GEM 2-320.
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