http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points.html2016-10-05T04:44:00.642ZPower PointsRead the latest Up in the Air blog for all forms of power generation, including coal, gas, nuclear and renewable..Adobe Experience ManagerWho Won the Debate?noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off for the first time last month in a feisty debate over America’s biggest concerns. But a more important debate took place that same week, as more than a dozen lawyers argued for and against President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.</p> <p>The first round in the fight over the controversial Clean Power Plan is over. Lawyers on both sides made their cases Sept. 27 before all active judges at the second highest court in the land, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The smoke has cleared, and now we wait for the judges to make a ruling later this year.</p> <p>So who won?</p> <p>By most accounts, the Environmental Protection Agency appeared to prevail, arguing it is well within its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from entire fleets of power plants, not just individual sources. What’s more, six of the 10 judges were appointed by a Democratic president, and four of those six were appointed by Obama.</p> <p>More than likely, the appeals court will uphold the most far-reaching energy-sector regulation in U.S. history. Round 2 will be held next year before the U.S. Supreme Court, which took unprecedented action earlier this year by placing the rule on hold while it was still pending before a lower court.&nbsp;</p> <p>Both courts are especially interested in this case, because the outcome will dictate the path power producers take in determining the technology they use to produce power for decades to come.</p> <p>The Clean Power Plan calls for sweeping new requirements to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. States had until 2018 to submit their compliance plans, until the Supreme County stayed the rule in February.&nbsp; The compliance timeline will certainly change, if the rule is upheld.</p> <p>Twenty seven states are challenging the rule.</p> <p>Interestingly, the 27 states challenging the plan are responsible for about 80 percent of the emission reductions required under the plan. The states in favor of the plan are responsible for just 12 percent of the reduction targets mandated by the plan.</p> <p>During the hearings, West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin argued the EPA exceeded its authority. Lin said limiting carbon emissions would require states to transform their electricity generation systems to favor one source of energy over another.</p> <p>“This rule is not about improving the performance of existing power plants,” he said. “It's about shutting them down.&quot;</p> <p>In West Virginia, nearly all of its power comes from coal-fired plants and the economy is largely dependent on coal mining.</p> <p>Lin also noted coal-fired plant owners could be required to purchase emissions credits to offset their carbon pollution.</p> <p>Justice Department lawyer Eric Hostetler said the free market is already switching power generation away from coal as many utilities have shifted to inexpensive and cleaner-burning natural gas, and that the EPA’s rule would just make it a requirement.</p> <p>&quot;This rule addresses the key environmental challenge of our time, and does so cost effectively,&quot; Hostetler said.</p> <p>Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who sided with the 5-4 conservative majority to stay the plan, unexpectedly died a few days after the ruling in February. Scalia’s death means the Clean Power Plan is more likely to survive the legal opposition from 27 states.</p> <p>Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be nominating Scalia’s replacement. The winner of the presidential election in November will tip the balance to one side or the other, because the case over the Clean Power Plan is not expected to reach the high court until late in 2017, giving the new president plenty of time to confirm Scalia’s replacement.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/10/who_won_the_debate.html2016-10-06T21:19:00.000Z2016-10-06T21:19:59.280ZHow Natural Gas Production has Changednoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>About five years ago, when natural gas prices continued to linger at historic lows, I was one of many who predicted a quick return to the volatility once synonymous with the natural gas market.</p> <p>Today’s unflappable, low-priced environment is in stark contrast to the Wild West exploration and production market of the past.</p> <p>It was not unusual for natural gas prices to spike from $2 per million Btu (MMBtu) to $14 per MMBtu in a matter of months. Drilling rigs would be deployed en masse, supplies would slowly replenish and prices would drop. The boom-bust cycle would be repeated for several decades. Like the sunrise and sunset, it was a customary and familiar occurrence.</p> <p>But this fundamental assumption about the natural gas market is no longer true. Turns out the generous estimates of recoverable gas supplies in the U.S., which were questioned by many skeptics, are more precise than we thought.</p> <p>In the U.S., we no longer have to wage an extensive search for new supplies or deploy a fleet of drilling rigs to exploit them. Over the years, natural gas producers have tapped into immense natural gas resources that have long been trapped in a thin, nonporous rock known as shale. Bringing in more supply is as simple as turning on a spigot, said Lucian Pugliaresi, president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation.</p> <p>“It’s much like a manufacturing process,” Pugliaresi said last month during the keynote session at POWER-GEN Natural Gas 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.</p> <p>Thanks to new production methods, including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, natural gas production in the U.S. has fundamentally changed, Pugliaresi said. Specifically, producers can ramp up gas production much more quickly in response to rising demand, which means we may have entered an era of long-term stability in the price of natural gas in the U.S.</p> <p>“We cannot find any reasonable or even unreasonable demand forecast that stresses the resource base,” Pugliaresi said. “We don’t see any problem with the supply side. We don’t have a resource problem.”</p> <p>According to a new <a href="http://www.rff.org/about/media/press-release/new-gas-extraction-methods-increase-price-responsiveness">study</a> released last month by Resources for the Future (RFF), a think tank devoted to the research and analysis of natural resources, natural gas produced from unconventional resources such as shale are 2.7 times more responsive to changes in demand than conventional production. The reason is this: Unconventional wells produce significantly more gas at a consistent and faster flow rate. RFF researchers said production from these wells behaved more like a “manufacturing process.”</p> <p>Today, natural gas produced from shale formations account for 50 percent of U.S. natural gas production, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). What’s more, natural gas production from shale is projected to rise over the next 24 years, accounting for nearly 70 percent of U.S. gas production by 2040.</p> <p>This means the return on investments in gas-fired power generation will be greater versus the building booms of the past, when gas-fired plants built on the promise of low-cost fuel were shut down amid sharp spikes in the price of gas.</p> <p>Power generation will account for 34 percent of the growth in natural gas consumption between 2015 and 2040, according EIA. During the 25-year period, natural gas consumption in the U.S will rise 1 percent a year, from 28 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2015 to 34 Tcf in 2040.</p> <p>Nearly 19,000 MW of power generation fueled with natural gas is expected to be built and commissioned in the U.S. between 2016 and 2018. Not surprisingly, much of that capacity (52 percent) is being built near shale formations.</p> <p>According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_es1b">data</a>&nbsp;released earlier this month by the EIA, natural gas was by far the leading source of generation in the U.S. during the first half of 2016. Natural gas accounted for 33.5 percent of electricity produced through June while coal accounted for 28.1 percent.</p> <p>What’s more, power produced with natural gas reached an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2016/08/natural-gas-generation-rises-to-new-high-in-july.html">all-time high in July</a>. In EIA’s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/electricity.cfm">short-term energy outlook</a>, the agency found that gas-fired power plants generated 4,950 gigawatt-hours of power each day in July, up 9 percent from the previous record high set in July 2015.</p> <p>I'm a skeptic and I don't like bandwagons. It took a while, but I'm jumping on. &nbsp;</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/09/how_natural_gas_prod.html2016-09-07T15:30:00.000Z2016-09-07T15:43:25.958ZNuclear Power: A “Public Necessity”noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>More than a dozen U.S. nuclear power plants have either closed, are in the process of closing or are at high risk of closing. &nbsp;What’s more, about half of the nation’s nuclear plants are no longer profitable.</p> <p>What gives?</p> <p>Nuclear power is the best option for meeting the nation’s clean energy goals. Consider this: Nuclear power accounts for 57 percent of the nation’s zero-carbon electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.</p> <p>Yet, the business of nuclear power is collapsing because the market cannot support the nation’s available capacity. Why?</p> <p>Simply put, it comes down to supply and demand. &nbsp;A lot of low-priced natural gas-fired generation has flooded the market while regional demand for power is either flat or in decline. In addition, power prices are so low that some nuclear plants can no longer cover basic operating costs. Two Illinois nuclear plants – Clinton and Quad Cities – have lost a combined $800 million over the last six years.</p> <p>In a battle against climate change, laws and policies must acknowledge nuclear power as the most important source of carbon-free electricity.&nbsp; State standards for renewable power should be changed to zero-carbon standards that recognize nuclear resources.</p> <p>New York is the first state to offer support to an industry struggling to stay afloat. Earlier this month, state regulators approve the Clean Energy Standard (CES). Other states should follow suit with similar measures.</p> <p>The CES encourages the use of nuclear and renewable power by mandating a 40-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The plan also requires power providers to get half of their power supplies from clean and renewable resources by 2030. Most importantly, the rule would pay the state’s nuclear plants up to $965 million in zero-emission credits.</p> <p>As a result of New York’s action, Exelon Corp. said it would invest about $200 million in two New York nuclear plants next year and continue its discussions to buy Entergy’s Fitzpatrick nuclear plant, which was scheduled for closure in 2017. Exelon operates two nuclear plants in upstate New York – Ginna and Nine Mile Point.</p> <p>“Without the CES, these plants would have been at risk of closure,” Exelon said.</p> <p>Wind and solar power developers have benefited for years from state and federal subsidies because of their carbon-reducing effects on climate change. Nuclear power plants deserve a modest subsidy for the same reason.</p> <p>The New York Public Service Commission, which approved the CES, described it as a “public necessity” that would benefit the state’s grid, its customers and the environment.</p> <p>&nbsp;New York’s decision “will encourage other policymakers and regulators to similarly value nuclear energy for its clean-air benefits,” said Carol Browner, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a member of Nuclear Matters, a bipartisan nuclear advocacy group. &nbsp;</p> <p>However, there are no signs that other states are ready to take similar action.</p> <p>In Illinois, state lawmakers shelved legislation that would have funded the state’s struggling nuclear plants to help meet its clean-energy goals. The state’s inaction led Exelon to announce plans to close two nuclear plants – Clinton and Quad Cities – in 2017 and 2018.</p> <p>One day before New York regulators approved the CES, lawmakers in Massachusetts approved legislation requiring power providers to get 40 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030. The measure did not include nuclear power. In fact, the state’s lone reactor, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, will be shut down in 2019. It is one of several nuclear plants that have either been closed or slated for closure since 2014.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the fate of nuclear plants in other states hangs in the balance as officials debate the cost, safety and importance of nuclear power in the U.S.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/08/nuclear_power_a_pu.html2016-08-08T20:30:00.000Z2016-08-08T20:30:45.581ZEIA Projection Slammednoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>To what extent should the world rely on power supplies produced from renewable resources?</p> <p>It is one of the great debates of our time, perhaps the greatest debate of any time. The answer depends on a range of variables: The state of our technology; the condition of our ecosystems; the cost of generation; the status of our economies; and the risk we’re willing to take for the sake of a cleaner environment.</p> <p>Our position is this: Global investment in renewable power should be based on strategies for achieving balance between environmental concerns, economic concerns and reliability concerns.</p> <p>As we see it, the scale is leaning appreciably to one side or the other, depending on the region of the world you’re in. The imbalance is a byproduct of misguided policies, unreasonable mandates and hard-line interest groups.</p> <p>In the U.S., the transition to renewable power is moving too quickly. Without storage, renewable power is still intermittent and too costly. Meanwhile, the opportunity to add new generation fueled with low-priced coal has essentially been eliminated, despite proven technologies that convert coal into electricity much more efficiently. What’s more, cleaner-burning natural gas, which will largely be used to replace the nation’s lost coal capacity, is now under fire for the way it is produced and may be subject to restrictions that could limit its use in power generation.</p> <p>Consumers and power professionals everywhere are concerned. Their frustration and skepticism was plainly evident in the feedback we received on a simple news brief we published recently about the Energy Information Administration’s projection for renewable power. In that report, the agency projected renewables would overtake coal to become the leading source of power generation worldwide by 2040. &nbsp;</p> <p>The news brief was entitled “Report: Renewables Will Be No. 1 in Global Power Generation in 24 years.” As we do with many news briefs, we posted the item on <i>Power Engineering’s</i> Facebook page. The FB post quickly generated more than 300 comments. Here’s a sample of how some of our followers responded:</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; No they won’t.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I don’t think soo!</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Bull. It will take longer than that.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Hahahaha</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; No, they won't! And any engineer who thinks this is possible needs to revisit some fundamentals.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It better not take that long!</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And ur electric bill will be near double.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; On a perfect sunny day with a gentle breeze</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Just like the climate change predictions that have not come true, this one is also doomed to failure.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Yup, and most will be homeless paying for it.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And by then, all bird species will be extinct or near extinction.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Only thing existing that is efficient is nuclear yet no one wants it. They'd rather have inefficient wind and solar. Every major solar farm rides on subsides and many are bankrupt. We have an abundance of clean natural gas but how dare we use that!&nbsp;L</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We can’t afford to wait, though.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And we won’t be able to afford them</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And nobody except Bill Gates will be able to afford electricity</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I don’t believe this at all!!</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Are we taking bets? This is nonsense. Anyone want to put money on it?</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Maybe 50 to 75 years</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Never. Too costly and unreliable.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I heard the same tripe from the colossal jewels of ignorance in the eighties. About 30 years ago</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And there will be no more birds</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Hmmm that seems an astronomical goal really. Guess we'll be going back to the dark ages to achieve it.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Wrong. Try again! If I was a betting man, I’d say 19% and that’s a stretch!</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Only if the governments of the world forces it.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This is what they call an extrapolation. You fit a curve to a set of data points and keep on going and going. J</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It is impossible to accurately predict when the cross over will be. While it will be sometime in the next 50 years, maybe 30, whether it is 10 or 25 is impossible to know, until the year before it happens.</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Wind turbines have a life expectancy of 20 years. In 20 years, we will be replacing wind turbines, not building new ones. Solar panels have a 30-year life expectancy. The U.S., for example, currently has 48,000 wind turbines in place. How many can you build before the annual replacement of end-of-life turbines becomes economically prohibitive?</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In 25 years, we’ll have nuclear FUSION reactors. Solar panels and wind turbines will die in each other’s arms when the 1<sup>st</sup> reactor goes online.</p> <p>Discussions around big issues like this have moved to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. We think these online comments from our FB followers accurately illustrate the sharp divide over the role renewable power should play in meeting the world’s generation needs. What do you think?</p> <p>Contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/05/eia_projection_slamm.html2016-05-24T17:15:00.000Z2016-05-24T17:19:32.309ZAre Hybrid Systems the Next Big Trend in Power Generation?noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>In 1999, hybrid gas-electric vehicles (HEV) were introduced to the U.S. market. HEVs combined the power of a combustion engine with the purity of an electric powertrain to meet consumer demands for balance between performance and fuel efficiency.</p> <p>The concept, by all accounts, struck a deep chord with consumers. Today, HEVs are expected to account for a third of passenger vehicle sales in North America by 2025.</p> <p>Is the power generation market headed down a similar path?</p> <p>Hybrid power plants offer solutions to many problems and concerns faced by power producers, grid managers and consumers. In a hybrid system, clean but intermittent solar power can be paired with a reliable generator fueled with low-priced natural gas. Waste wood from timbering can be co-fired with waste coal to lower emissions. Wind power can be coupled with compressed air to create a reliable source of power for remote areas with limited transmission. Some hybrid projects combine diesel generator sets with solar PV technology.</p> <p>Hybrid power generation systems provide a source of power that is both clean and consistent. They can provide power on demand. What’s more, they can be an effective tool in integrating more renewable resources into the grid while providing firm capacity to back up those variable resources.</p> <p>But hybrid systems are either panned or praised in the world of power generation. Despite the obvious benefits, there are several drawbacks that create a concerning level of risk for hybrid power projects.</p> <p>The benefits of renewable systems coupled with either a generator or energy storage depends greatly on the value of the firm capacity. If renewable power represents a small percentage of a system’s load, other generators in the system can easily make up the difference when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. Under this scenario, the firm capacity provided by the hybrid system is usually poorly valued.</p> <p>Also, in remote locations, the power cannot be easily sold due to a limited number of potential buyers.</p> <p>In the May issue of <i>Power Engineering</i>, our cover story examines several combinations of technologies used in hybrid power plants and specific projects that have captured the industry’s attention with innovative systems that work cooperatively to provide clean and consistent power.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2016/03/nevada-power-plant-first-in-world-with-solar-geothermal-mix.html">Stillwater hybrid plant</a> is the world’s first power plant using geothermal power and two types of solar power – solar PV and solar thermal – to produce electricity. The project, which was officially inaugurated in March, is a cooperative system integrating a 33-MW geothermal plant, a 26-MW solar PV system and a 2-MW solar thermal facility.</p> <p>Coupling the solar thermal facility with the geothermal plant boosted the output at Stillwater by 3.6 percent versus output from the geothermal plant by itself. The finding was confirmed by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Idaho National Laboratory.</p> <p>“The lessons we are learning at the advanced geothermal-solar facility will be key to the development of other hybrid plants throughout the world,” said Francesco Starace, chief executive officer of Enel, the plant’s owner.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Meanwhile, researchers are developing new hybrid systems designed to unify power generation technologies you might not think about marrying.</p> <p>Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a concept that combines two well-known power generation technologies: Coal gasification and fuel cells. The hybrid system could be twice as fuel efficient as a conventional coal-fired power plant, according to an <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/hybrid-system-could-cut-coal-plant-emissions-half-0404">article</a> posted by MIT.</p> <p>The syngas produced from the coal would be used in a fuel cell, where it would react with oxygen to produce electricity, the article stated. “Both processes operate at similarly high temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius or more. Combining them in a single plant would thus allow the two components to exchange heat with minimal energy losses.”</p> <p>Comparing the market for hybrid power plants to the market for hybrid cars may not be perfect, but it’s a simple analogy full of good old-fashioned horse sense.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/05/are_hybrid_systemst.html2016-05-10T21:49:00.000Z2016-05-11T15:29:44.882ZEnergy Storage: Thinking BIGnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>The widespread deployment of cost-effective, grid-scale energy storage solutions may still be distant, but the technology appears to be commercially viable. The next step: Getting projects funded and online.</p> <p>Storing electricity on a large scale has been pursued for years by electric utilities in hopes of using the power to cover periods of peak demand. The ability to store large amounts of power will help power producers fill the production gaps created by growing amounts of intermittent generation such as solar and wind power.</p> <p>After years of limited progress, several capable systems for storing large amounts of power have emerged from research and development efforts borne from new mandates for energy storage capacity and public demand for cleaner power supplies. Some grid-scale systems are viable now, while others are on the verge of viability.</p> <p>The progress in energy storage technology is reflected in last year’s development efforts. According to a report by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association, the U.S. deployed 221 MW of new storage capacity in 2015, up 243 percent over the previous year. By 2020, energy storage capacity in the U.S. is projected to reach 1.7 GW valued at $2.5 billion, the report showed.</p> <p>“We can look back at 2015 as the year when energy storage really took off,” said Ravi Manghani, the report’s author. “While most of the growth was limited to a single wholesale market of PJM, we expect growing interest for storage in several markets.”</p> <p>Spawned by the recent extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), GTM expects the U.S. will add half a GW of storage capacity between 2016 and 2020. This added capacity will be coupled with renewable power projects, beneficiaries of the 30 percent tax credit. Of the additional storage driven by the ITC, most of that capacity will be utility scale, GTM said.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>While most of the attention is paid to the development of the next-generation system of battery storage, the granddaddy of all energy storage projects will rely on another form of storage technology – compressed air – and will be built in the high desert of rural Utah. In this issue of <i>Power Engineering</i>, our cover story examines the history and the technology behind this grand project – the $1.5 billion Intermountain Energy Storage Project.</p> <p>The Intermountain project is the largest of its kind, using wind power to store large amounts of compressed air in four underground salt caverns, each capable of storing enough high-pressure compressed air to fill the Empire State Building.</p> <p>“Whenever energy storage comes up these days, everyone talks about chemical batteries,” said Robert Schulte of Schulte Associates LLC and a consultant to Burbank Water &amp; Power, one of the project’s developers. “In certain cases, chemical batteries can supply as much as 20 MW, but the project at Intermountain targets 1,200 MW of storage or more.”</p> <p>If the project is realized, it will serve as a litmus test for how power producers can use energy storage to deal with growing amounts of intermittent generation, grid integration costs, and stricter emission standards. It will also serve as a testing ground for the benefits of compressed air energy storage technology, especially its ability to absorb excess renewable generation and reproduce it when that power is needed.</p> <p>Meanwhile, energy storage costs have been declining rapidly and will continue to fall. The market for large scale energy storage technologies received a big boost in October 2013, when California adopted the nation's first energy storage mandate. The measure requires the state's investor-owned electric utilities to buy 1.3 GW of energy storage capacity by the end of 2020. The California mandate has accelerated the development of storage technologies and efforts to bring costs down.</p> <p>In January, the World Energy Council (WEC) said in a report the associated costs of energy storage technologies will fall 70 percent by 2030, which will lead to strong growth in the global adoption of energy storage.</p> <p>But the adoption of energy storage should not be determined solely on cost. Energy storage is seen by many as a game changer for the power sector. Its flexibility could help utilities and grid managers bring more balance to supply and demand, making the grid more resilient and efficient.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As the WEC noted in its report, focusing on the “levelized cost” of storage can be misleading because the metrics used to determine the levelized cost are arbitrary. Energy storage should be viewed as an essential component of grid expansion. “A narrow focus on costs alone drives the common misperception that energy storage is more expensive than it really is,” the WEC wrote.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1. &nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/04/energy_storage_thin.html2016-04-05T18:39:00.000Z2016-04-05T18:40:19.260ZScalia and the Clean Power Plannoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to place the controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) on hold, confirming our belief that the high court would ultimately strike down the Obama administration’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants. &nbsp;</p> <p>But the result we envisioned was shattered just a few days later when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who sided with the 5-4 conservative majority to stay the plan, unexpectedly died at a remote Texas ranch. Suddenly, the most far reaching energy-sector regulation is more likely to survive the legal challenge from 27 states claiming the federal government does not have the authority regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.</p> <p>The case is now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are expected to begin in June. The appeals court is expected to issue a decision this fall, which will almost certainly be appealed and placed before the Supreme Court for a final ruling in spring 2017.</p> <p>Scalia’s death sets up a huge political showdown in Washington D.C., where President Obama will attempt to convince a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to confirm a new justice before he leaves office in January. An Obama appointee is, of course, more likely to join the four liberal justices in upholding the CPP than voting with the four remaining conservative justices to strike it down.</p> <p>Shortly after Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the seat should remain vacant “until we have a new president.” The Kentucky Republican later reiterated his position in a Feb. 19 opinion piece published in the Lexington-Herald Leader newspaper. McConnell wrote that he favors “deferring action in the Senate” until voters choose the next president in the approaching presidential election in November. Senate Republicans have rallied behind McConnell.</p> <p>Though they face an uphill battle, Senate Democrats are strategizing in hopes of holding confirmation hearings for an Obama appointee. This, however, is unlikely.</p> <p>Almost as unlikely is a new president confirming Scalia’s replacement in time to vote on the controversial CPP. If a new justice cannot be confirmed in time, the vote would most likely be split evenly between the four liberal justices and four conservative justices in a 4-4 stalemate. An even split would trigger an automatic affirmance of the lower court’s ruling. In this case, the lower court would be the D.C. Circuit. Although we don’t know how the lower court will vote, two of the three judges assigned to the case were appointed by Democrats and may favor the EPA.</p> <p>To avoid a stalemate, though, the high court could simply delay any action until Scalia’s replacement is confirmed.</p> <p>Both Democratic Presidential candidates – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – support the CPP. All of the Republican candidates oppose it.</p> <p>No one was surprised when in late January the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied several motions to stay the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. “You have to show imminent harm,” said Alexandra Dunn, executive director of the Environmental Council of the States. “No plants are going to shut down because of the initial submittals.”</p> <p>Most expected the Supreme Court to sit on the sidelines until the D.C. Circuit issued a final ruling on claims from the 27 states opposed to the CPP. Instead, the Supreme Court, for the first time in U.S. history, stayed a regulation that was still being reviewed by a lower court.</p> <p>It was an unprecedented move that was followed by another shocking and sad development that will likely change the outcomes of many important cases now in front of the Supreme Court. Scalia’s death will have a lasting effect on the legal community, and the consequences may not be fully realized anytime soon. &nbsp;However, it is abundantly clear that his death has improved Obama’s odds on implementing his environmental legacy.</p> <p>If you have a question or comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:Russellr@pennwell.com">Russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/03/scalia_and_the_clean.html2016-03-08T21:45:00.000Z2016-03-08T21:46:45.613ZFuel Cells to Play Important Role in Power Generationnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Imagine a source of power that is virtually emission-free, highly reliable, occupies small spaces and can generate enough electricity to power thousands of homes.</p> <p>It’s not a pipe dream. The technology has been around for a while and it is increasingly being deployed in the U.S. and abroad to meet public demand for clean, reliable electricity.</p> <p>More homes, businesses and utilities are turning to fuel-cells to meet their power generation needs. Installing groups of modular fuel-cell systems to create small power plants ranging from 5 MW to 63 MW in size is a growing market.</p> <p>Several large-scale fuel-cell power plants have been built in Connecticut, Delaware and California.</p> <p>Just last month, state officials in Connecticut approved plans to build what will be the largest fuel cell power plant in the world. Equipped with 21 fuel cells, the 63.3-MW Beacon Falls fuel cell power plant will surpass the 59.9-MW fuel cell plant in South Korea. The Beacon Falls Project will be capable of generating enough electricity to power 60,000 Connecticut homes and is expected to be completed in 2019.&nbsp;</p> <p>The power plant and substation will be built on about eight acres. A solar plant would require about 10 times more land to achieve the same amount of output.</p> <p>In addition, fuel cells, which use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, have no moving parts, making them inherently quiet and ideal for use in urban settings where the power is actually consumed. This limits the need for transmission and distribution lines, thus reducing the risk of power outages caused by ice storms and heavy winds.</p> <p>The hydrogen used in fuel cells can be produced by a variety of fuels, including natural gas. A fuel cell splits hydrogen into electrons and protons. As protons pass through the cell’s thin plastic membrane, the electrons are forced into a circuit, creating an electric current.</p> <p>Although our universe is 80 percent hydrogen, it is almost never found naturally by itself because it's locked up in other compounds like water and cellulose. That’s why the source of hydrogen is natural gas or methane. The electrochemical reaction creates water vapor, eliminating the harmful emissions of a combustion engine.</p> <p>What’s more, the cost of fuel cells is dropping thanks to increasing demand, or better economies of scale, making the technology even more attractive. &nbsp;</p> <p>Leading fuel cell manufacturer FuelCell Energy Inc. will supply the fuel cells for the Beacon Falls project.</p> <p>Since power from fuel cells has been deemed renewable in 13 states, including Connecticut, the power from these systems can be used to comply with new standards for renewable power, also known as renewable portfolio standards (RPS).</p> <p>“This one project meets about 10 percent of the State of Connecticut’s RPS requirements for 2016, and no state funds are needed as private capital will be used to finance the project,” said Chip Bottone, chief executive officer of FuelCell Energy.</p> <p>Bottone’s company has fuel cell power plants up and running in more than 50 locations worldwide.</p> <p>Fuel cells have several advantages over other more common forms of onsite power. They are significantly cleaner, quiet, less expensive to operate, and require little real-estate.</p> <p>Dominion Resources owns the largest fuel cell power plant in North America, a 15-MW project in Bridgeport, Connecticut, capable of producing enough electricity for about 15,000 homes. Dominion sells the power to Connecticut Light &amp; Power under a 15-year power purchase agreement.</p> <p>Fuel cells are not a new technology. They have been long associated with the NASA space program and transportation vehicles. In recent years, though, the applications and markets for fuel cells have expanded. Fuel cells are being used for primary power, backup power, emergency power, and auxiliary power. They are used to power hotels, hospitals, universities, and data centers for Apple and eBay.</p> <p>As the cost of centralized power rises, the cost of decentralized power continues to fall. Some power professionals believe the days of centralized power are numbered. That point of view is a bit extreme, but fuel cells are without question going to play a starring role in what will be a significant transition to distributed generation.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/02/fuel_cells_to_playi.html2016-02-15T17:00:00.000Z2016-02-15T17:01:26.516ZThe Clean Power Plan: A Risky Investmentnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Last month at POWER-GEN International, the world’s largest conference and exhibition for the power sector, the controversial U.S. Clean Power Plan dominated the discussions. The plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants may be the most litigated rule in U.S. history.&nbsp;</p> <p>“More than 15 lawsuits were filed in just two days” after the plan was unveiled Aug. 3, said Alexandra Dunn, executive director and general counsel of the Environmental Council of the States, a nonprofit association representing state environmental agencies.</p> <p>Dunn joined Jeff Holmstead, a leading climate change lawyer and former EPA assistant administrator in the Bush Administration, in a plenary-session discussion about the legal opposition and implementation challenges related to the most far-reaching energy-sector regulation in U.S. history.</p> <p>The Clean Power Plan calls for sweeping new requirements to cut carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.&nbsp;States have until 2018 to submit their compliance plans. The emission limits differ from state to state.</p> <p>Although 27 states are challenging the rule, most of those states are evaluating their compliance options, Dunn said. “Most states are doing something productive,” she said. “They will be putting plans together.”</p> <p>To illustrate the political nature of the debate over the Clean Power Plan, Dunn pointed to a map highlighting the states that are challenging the rule and those in favor of it. Dunn then showed attendees another map. The second map highlighted the state-by-state results of the last presidential election in the U.S. &nbsp;Both maps were almost identical. The red (Republican) states generally opposed the plan while the blue (Democrat) states largely supported the plan.</p> <p>“This is politics,” Dunn said. “It’s all politics.”</p> <p>Holmstead pointed to another reality behind the support and opposition to America’s Clean Power Plan.</p> <p>The 27 states challenging the plan in court are responsible for about 80 percent of the emission reductions required under the plan, he said. The states in favor of the plan are responsible for just 12 percent of the reduction targets mandated by the plan.</p> <p>“That’s an indication of the burden the rule imposes on different states,” Holmstead said.</p> <p>While Dunn was reluctant to say whether the plan would survive in court, Holmstead was unwavering in his belief the plan will ultimately be revoked by a new Republican administration or overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. He gave a 70 percent to 80 percent chance to either scenario.</p> <p>“If a Republican is elected, that administration will certainly revoke the Clean Power Plan,” he said. “I know how this works. There are some EPA rules that are very difficult or even impossible to change. But the Clean Power Plan is not one of them.”</p> <p>If a Democrat is elected, the plan will certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. “In all likelihood, the nine justices we currently have will be the justices hearing the case,” Holmstead said. “Right now, it’s absolutely certain there are four justices that would vote to overturn the Clean Power Plan.”</p> <p>The plan “goes way beyond what Congress authorized EPA to do,” Holmstead said.</p> <p>The case against the Clean Power Plan centers on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). Opponents contend power plant emissions are already regulated under section 112 of the CAA. The CAA prohibits the EPA from regulating power plant emissions under more than one section of the law.</p> <p>EPA has “never before said we’re going to take business away from these plants and give it to those plants, which is what they’re doing here,” Holmstead said.</p> <p>Several states have asked a federal appeals court to stay the controversial plan until the courts decide whether the EPA has the authority to force states to limit CO<sub>2</sub>&nbsp;from U.S. power plants.</p> <p>“We don’t think there will be a successful request for a stay because you have to show imminent harm,” Dunn said after the plenary session. “No plants are going to shut down because of the initial submittals.”</p> <p>Given the legal uncertainty, investments in compliance will vary from state to state, Dunn said. Any investments in compliance could be lost if the Supreme Court strikes down the law.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“Some states are very confident about the law. There are some states that feel this is the right thing to do and they want to move in this direction, with or without the EPA,” she said. “But some states are highly skeptical and they will hold back full investment until they are sure this is legally sound.”</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2016/01/the_clean_power_plan.html2016-01-04T16:12:00.000Z2016-01-04T16:12:50.749ZWelcome to POWER-GEN 2015!noemail@noemail.orgBy Russell Ray, Chairman, POWER-GEN International<p>It&rsquo;s the largest annual forum for the power generation industry.</p> <p>More than 21,000 industry professionals from around the world have gathered in Las Vegas for POWER-GEN International, where innovative and cost-effective solutions for maintaining, operating and building new power generation will be shared Dec. 8 through 10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.</p> <p>More than 1,400 exhibiting companies from every sector of the industry are showcasing their products and services on the exhibit floor.&nbsp; The exhibition opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday following the keynote session.</p> <p>POWER-GEN International offers a wealth of networking opportunities with leading professionals and key decision makers.&nbsp; More than 200 speakers will share their thoughts on trends, technology and project development in 43 conference sessions.&nbsp; A wide range of topics, from emissions control to gas turbine design, will be discussed by high-ranking regulators, developers, power producers and industry representatives.</p> <p>The keynote session Dec. 8 features five high-ranking executives: Steven L. Edwards, chairman, president and CE0, Black &amp; Veatch; Robert Flexon, president and CEO, Dynegy; Steve Berberich, president and CEP, California ISO; Stuart R. Hemphill, senior vice president, Power Supply and Operational Services, Southern Company Edison; and Joe Mastrangelo, CEO, Gas Power Systems, GE Power.</p> <p>This year, POWER-GEN comes to Las Vegas with four co-located events: Nuclear Power International; COAL-GEN 2015; Renewable Energy World North America; and the GenForum.&nbsp; We&rsquo;re calling it Power Generation Week, which features five conferences and four exhibitions under one roof.&nbsp; Altogether, more than 300 speakers will be featured in nearly 80 conference sessions during Power Generation Week</p> <p>At POWER-GEN, 33 conference sessions are being held under seven tracks: Emissions Control; On-Site Power; Plant Performance; Gas Turbine Technologies; Microgrids, Storage &amp; Virtual Power Plants; Industry Trends/Competitive Power Generation; and Power Project Financing.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a sample of some of the sessions that will be offered: &ldquo;Small and Medium Gas Turbines,&rdquo; &ldquo;CHP Trends in North America,&rdquo; &ldquo;New Combined-Cycle Power Plants,&rdquo; &ldquo;HRSGs: Design, Maintenance &amp; Monitoring Best Practices,&rdquo; Asset Management,&rdquo; &ldquo;Steam Turbine Performance and Reliability Improvement &amp; Generator Inspection,&rdquo; &ldquo;Successfully Financing Power Projects in the Developing World,&rdquo; &ldquo;Options to Maximize the Value of Existing Coal Plants,&rdquo; &ldquo;CCR/ELG Regs: Walking the Tightrope&rdquo; and &ldquo;Utilities&rsquo; Perspective on Energy Storage.&rdquo;</p> <p>Six mega-sessions are also scheduled.&nbsp; &ldquo;The Threat from Solar,&rdquo; &ldquo;Clean Power Plan: Did We Get What We Expected,&rdquo; &ldquo;Large Frame Gas Turbines,&rdquo; &ldquo;Is Gambling with the World&rsquo;s Energy Resources Leading to a Potential Crisis?&rdquo; &ldquo;New Business Model for Grid-Scale Storage&rdquo; and &ldquo;Bettering the Nuclear Fleet with Modern Technology.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>WIN A CORVETTE</b></p> <p>A car will again be given away this year.&nbsp; The drawing for a 2016 Corvette is Thursday, Dec. 10.&nbsp; Entering is easy.&nbsp; Eligible attendees must take their entry card to the booths of the sponsoring companies, have it stamped by the sponsoring exhibitors and return the card to the PennWell booth prior to the drawing.&nbsp; As always, you must be present to win.</p> http://www.power-eng.com/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/12/welcome-to-power-gen-2015/2015/12/welcome_to_power-gen.html2015-12-08T12:56:00.000Z2015-12-08T12:57:05.476ZMaking Sense of Big Datanoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Welcome to the age of big data. The power sector has been slow to take advantage of the explosion of new data spawned by more sensors and new software, but the industry is beginning to get in cadence with the march toward quantification.</p> <p>A typical gas-fired power plant is equipped with more than 10,000 sensors. They measure and communicate movement, vibration, temperature, humidity and chemical changes in the air and water. But only a fraction of that data is analyzed and quantified for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of a power plant. The opportunities to exploit that data and make sense of the information to trim costs, increase sales and boost efficiency are growing at breakneck speed thanks to new analytical software solutions and services.</p> <p>Opportunity is knocking for power generators in desperate pursuit of increased efficiency amid flat or declining demand for electricity.</p> <p>Perhaps the most notable opportunity is GE Power’s Predix, a software platform that enables power producers to create a virtual power plant that runs in the cloud. The technology, unveiled in September, allows power producers to create a digital twin of an existing power plant. The “Digital Power Plant” offers power plant managers a real-time simulation of conditions inside the actual power plant, allowing operators to make quick adjustments and fixes to keep the plant running as efficiently as possible. It can be used to manage any asset in a power plant, GE said.</p> <p>For a typical gas-fired plant, a digital twin can save up to $50 million over the remaining life of the plant, GE said. For a new gas plant, the savings could be as much as $230 million. For a new wind farm, up to $100 million in savings could be realized. The benefits include lower fuel costs, lower emissions, increased performance and reduced downtime.</p> <p>The digital twin can be used to run simulations to determine the optimum operating conditions and become better at<b> </b>predicting and preventing a failure.</p> <p>GE’s software solution is being applied to the gas-fired units of New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group, while Exelon is using it to boost the efficiency of its nuclear, gas and wind power assets. More power producers are expected to sign up for GE’s eye-opening innovation.</p> <p>“Our industry is on the precipice of a digital revolution,” said Michael Pacilio, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Exelon Generation.</p> <p>&quot;For merchant generators, every bit of efficiency and productivity matters to our bottom line,&quot; said Rich Lopriore, president of PSEG Fossil.&nbsp; &quot;Having the best power generation technology -- both physical and digital -- is critical to our competitiveness.”</p> <p>Increased use of renewables, resiliency issues and sustainability concerns are just a few drivers behind the industry’s need to transform, and “digitization is the single biggest enabler of that change,” said Steve Bolze, CEO of GE Power. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>But GE’s software solution is one of many examples of asset management tools being developed by the power sector to improve efficiency and performance. A major digital transformation of centralized power is underway. The Digital Power Plant and technologies like it will ultimately become a working tool for every power plant manager in the world.</p> <p>Flexibility is perhaps the greatest challenge facing power producers struggling to integrate growing supplies of intermittent wind and solar power into the grid. The Digital Power Plant and technologies like it will help the industry meet that challenge.</p> <p>That is why POWER-GEN International is developing a new conference track entitled “The Digital Power Plant,” which will center on issues surrounding advanced analytics, sensors, motion and control innovations, software solutions, and the Internet of Things. We’re recruiting committee members for this very important track now. To nominate someone, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a></p> <p>Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/11/making_sense_of_big.html2015-11-30T18:08:00.000Z2015-12-02T15:41:26.865ZGE Alstom Engineers Begin Brainstormingnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>After months of rumination, engineers at General Electric and Alstom were able to come together for the first time this month to begin piecing together a new portfolio of products for their new company – GE Power.</p> <p>GE closed its $10.6 billion acquisition of Alstom Power on Nov. 2. It’s a union of two of the most innovative companies on the planet, and it will change the scope of power generation equipment available to power producers worldwide.</p> <p>Employing more than 65,000 employees in more than 150 countries, GE Power will be led by Steve Bolze, who served as president and CEO of GE Power &amp; Water. The new company is expected to yield about $30 billion in revenue annually, GE said.&nbsp;</p> <p>For the new company and its reconstructed team of engineers, the challenge now is achieving a symbiotic relationship between similar but different technologies. The question is this: Which Alstom innovations will the new company retain and which will it sell?</p> <p>“We’re still working through that with the remedy that we have from the EU Commission,” Joe Mastrangelo, president and CEO of Gas Power Systems for GE Power, said during a conference call with reporters.</p> <p>To win approval from the European Union, GE agreed to transfer certain Alstom assets to Italian power engineering firm Ansaldo Energia, including the rights to build the GT-26 and GT-36 gas turbines. Both were designed for the 50Hz market. Alstom’s 60Hz GT-24 gas turbine and KA24 combined-cycle power train, which are widely used, will be retained by GE. The GT13E2, a versatile heavy-duty gas turbine capable of quick start-up times and 38 percent efficiency in simple cycle mode, is another Alstom innovation GE will most likely retain.</p> <p>GE may retain other Alstom innovations, including Alstom’s patented welded rotor design, which could be used to improve the performance of GE turbines, particularly the 6F.01 heavy-duty gas turbine. Alstom’s welded rotor technology minimizes stress cracking and eliminates de-stacking, re-stacking and disk replacement during the rotor's life.</p> <p>“There’s an opportunity for us to bring that in and improve performance and make that (6F.01) a more cost-effective machine,” Mastrangelo said.</p> <p>Alstom’s reheat combustion technology, which can be used to achieve ultralow emission levels, is another concept GE may apply to its product line. Alstom’s reheat concept fosters more flexible generation, enabling the producer to find an optimized operating range for given conditions and fuel compositions.</p> <p>“That’s one of the areas we want to look at to see where that makes sense and where that’s going to make us more competitive as a solution provider for the energy industry,” Mastrangelo said. “It’s exciting to get into these brainstorming sessions now that we’re able to work together as one team.”</p> <p>Also, Alstom’s steam-tail technology, which includes a steam turbine, a generator and a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG), will add significant value to GE’s product line, he said. Steam-tails allow power producers to convert a simple cycle plant into a more efficient combined cycle plant.</p> <p>“Obviously, if a customer says we want to go with another HRSG supplier or another steam-tail supplier, we would work with those people as we do today,” he said. “But we do believe that by bringing in this suite of technologies, they’ll get a more competitive solution.” &nbsp;</p> <p>As Bolze pointed out during the GE Minds + Machines conference in San Francisco last month, demand for power generation will continue to grow globally. Despite huge advancements in efficiency and demand-side management, the world will require 50 percent more power in the next two decades, Bolze said. “We will spend, as an industry, $10 trillion to put in that new power,” he said. “It will fundamentally transform the industry that we’re in today.”</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RuseellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/11/ge_alstom_engineers.html2015-11-04T22:34:00.000Z2015-11-04T22:35:26.191ZCHP: An Opportunity for Struggling Utilitiesnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>While the cost of producing large centralized power in the U.S. continues to increase, the cost of distributed power continues to decrease.</p> <p>Just last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new rule establishing strict wastewater discharge standards for toxic metals, including mercury, lead and selenium. To comply, more than 130 U.S. power plants will be required to make hefty investments in new technology. The estimated cost of compliance, according to the EPA, will be $480 million a year.</p> <p>The Clean Power Plan, the most far-reaching energy-sector regulation in the history of the U.S., was finalized in August and calls for sweeping new requirements to cut carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The controversial new rule will cost power producers a whopping $8.4 billion annually by 2030, the EPA said. Other estimates put the compliance cost much higher.</p> <p>EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which established the first limits on mercury, arsenic and acid-gas emissions from coal-fired plants, became effective earlier this year but was stayed because regulators failed to consider the cost of complying with the new rule - $9.6 billion.</p> <p>In addition, federal regulators recently finalized new rules for coal ash management and storage and announced plans to implement stricter standards for ground-level ozone pollution.</p> <p>The rising cost of centralized power coupled with stagnant revenue growth caused by flat or declining demand for electricity means investor-owned utilities should give serious thought to providing distributed power to its larger customers such as hospitals, universities and industrial complexes.</p> <p>I’m talking about combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration. CHP plants recycle the waste heat produced during power production for manufacturing processes and other useful purposes. By capturing and utilizing the excess heat, CHP plants can achieve energy efficiency rates of 75 percent or higher, well above efficiency rates for conventional power stations.</p> <p>What’s more, CHP plants offer more reliability because they are independent of the grid, a benefit that was plainly evident after Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast in October 2012. In the aftermath, while thousands of people were left without power from the grid, the lights remained on at college campuses, hospitals and apartment complexes equipped with a CHP system.</p> <p>The demand for CHP plants is significant for several reasons: Low natural gas prices; rising costs for central power stations; and a need for more resilient and reliable power generation assets. Doug Friedel, projects director for Industrial Power Generation Services at Black &amp; Veatch, said utilities should be getting into this emerging market because, unlike their industrial customers, utilities are specialists in financing and building power projects.</p> <p>“They (customers) don’t really want to be in the business of generating power,” Friedel said. “A utility is in the business of generating power. It’s what they do. The customers are reluctant to make this kind of investment.” &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Obama administration wants to boost CHP capacity by 40,000 MW, or 50 percent, by 2020. That was the goal established in an executive order directing several federal agencies and departments to encourage more investment in CHP projects through existing programs and policies.</p> <p>If that goal is met, American businesses would save an estimated $10 billion a year in energy costs. The emissions reduction would be tantamount to taking 25 million cars off the road.</p> <p>In addition to using very little water, CHP plants emit 40 percent fewer emissions compared with conventional power stations.</p> <p>“If it’s twice as efficient, it also puts half of the pollutants into the atmosphere,” Friedel said.</p> <p>CHP, or cogeneration, has been around for 100 years. It has quietly been providing highly efficient, reliable power to the nation's most important industries for a long time. In addition to CHP's high efficiency ratings, today’s technology offers the flexibility and reliability grid managers need to accommodate growing amounts of variable wind and solar power.</p> <p>“It’s really interesting that a technology as old as combined heat and power has seen such a regeneration of interest,” Friedel said.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/10/chp_an_opportunity0.html2015-10-09T19:32:00.000Z2015-10-09T19:33:14.596ZWhat You Need to Know About the Clean Power Plannoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>The minute the Obama administration unveiled its final plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants, opponents launched the first of many legal efforts to kill what some have described as the most prejudicial regulation ever proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).</p> <p>The Clean Power Plan calls for sweeping new requirements to cut carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule will require a massive restructuring of the power sector. It will decimate coal by establishing unattainable CO<sub>2</sub> standards for coal plants. It does nothing to promote the use of cleaner-burning natural gas, but it will stimulate the deployment of intermittent wind and solar power with new incentives. &nbsp;What’s more, it will require states to spend billions to comply with a rule that may ultimately be vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court.</p> <p> To be fair, the final plan issued by the EPA does give power producers the flexibility they were asking for. Under the final plan, states have until 2018 to submit their compliance plans. That’s an extra two years compared with the original proposed deadline of June 2016. The compliance deadline also was pushed back from 2020 to 2022.</p> <p>What’s more, the EPA lowered its assumption for necessary improvements in heat rate efficiency for coal-fired plants from 6 percent nationally to between 2.1 percent and 4.3 percent regionally. Also, the EPA revised emission limits to reflect 75 percent of a unit’s “net summer capacity” instead of 70 percent of “nameplate capacity.” Critics argued this measure better reflects the real operating conditions of a power plant, and the EPA agreed. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>But the final plan unveiled Aug. 3 is hardly a win for the power sector.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Several states have asked a federal appeals court to stay the controversial plan until the courts decide whether the EPA has the authority to force states to limit CO<sub>2</sub> from U.S. power plants. More states are expected to join a lawsuit challenging the rule, a case that will likely end years from now at the Supreme Court.</p> <p>What are the plaintiffs’ chances of winning the case against the EPA? Better than average, I would say.</p> <p>On June 29, the high court struck down the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, better known as the MATS rule, which established the first limits on mercury, arsenic and acid-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. The final MATS rule was issued back in 2012 and became effective earlier this year. However, the Supreme Court remanded the rule to the D.C. Circuit Court, saying the EPA failed to consider the $9.6 billion cost of implementing the new rule when drafting it. The industry spent billions to comply with the MATS rule, which now faces the possibility of being vacated. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>How the Supreme Court will rule on the Clean Power Plan is anyone’s guess, but its ruling on the MATS rule is compelling evidence the high court may reject the plan.</p> <p>The states’ case against the Clean Power Plan centers on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The states contend power plant emissions are already regulated under section 112 of the CAA. &nbsp;The CAA prohibits the EPA from regulating power plant emissions under more than one section of the law.</p> <p>What’s more, opponents of the plan argue the EPA is already regulating power plant emissions under the MATS rule and, thus, does not have the authority to regulate such emissions under section 111(d) of the CAA.&nbsp; However, if the MATS rule is vacated by the D.C. Circuit Court, that legal argument will vanish.</p> <p>“That may undermine one of the key legal challenges to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” said Andy Byers, associate vice president at Black &amp; Veatch. “A lot of folks are speculating the EPA may go back to the circuit court and ask them to overturn their (MATS) rule.”</p> <p>In another bizarre twist, the CO<sub>2</sub> limit for existing plants is 1,307 pounds per megawatt-hour while the CO<sub>2</sub> limit for new plants is 1,400 pounds per MWh. Under the final rule, the standard for an existing plant is more stringent than the standard for a brand new plant. What gives?</p> <p>The new standards can’t be achieved without installing a carbon capture and storage system, an expensive and questionable technology.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We just commissioned the most efficient coal-fired power plant in the country in Arkansas and its CO<sub>2</sub> emissions are just under 1,800 pounds per megawatt-hour,” said Mark McCullough, executive vice president of Generation at American Electric Power.</p> <p>The new CO<sub>2</sub> standards are among a host of new, costly requirements faced by coal-fired power plants. The new rules mean as much as 90,000 MW of coal-fired generation will be retired between now and 2040. Most of those retirements are expected to be achieved by 2020.</p> <p>The only real option for replacing that dispatchable output is power fueled with natural gas. “The risk profile of coal and nuclear, from a utility perspective, is just too high,” McCullough said. But too much reliance on natural gas could lead to serious economic and security issues for the nation’s power sector, McCullough said.</p> <p>“Absence of diversity is a recipe for a big problem,” he said.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/09/what_you_need_tokno.html2015-09-03T13:43:00.000Z2015-09-08T17:34:16.955ZNatural Gas: The Preferred Choicenoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>There is no global market for natural gas.</p> <p>That’s why the gap between natural gas prices in Europe and North America is so wide. Unlike oil, the price of natural gas is based on regional market conditions because large supplies of gas cannot be shipped overseas affordably or easily.</p> <p>Over time, that may change.</p> <p>The divergence in global gas markets was clearly evident during a recent visit to the Netherlands, where gas is being sold at historic highs. At POWER-GEN Europe in Amsterdam, attendees toured a pristine combined cycle gas-fired unit built in 2012. But like so many other gas-fired units across Europe, the 435-MW unit was idle, made uneconomical by the high cost of natural gas. The coal-fired unit next to it was running near full capacity.</p> <p>Combined cycle plants fueled with natural gas are cheaper to build, more efficient, easy to permit and quicker to construct. The only caveat: They are sensitive to the cost of natural gas.</p> <p>The price of natural gas is the defining difference between the North American and European power generation markets. America’s access to abundant low-priced gas, public demand for more renewable power, and the retirement of old inefficient coal-fired plants have spawned the construction of several new gas-fired projects in North America. The trend will continue as gas prices in the U.S. hover below $3 per million British thermal units.</p> <p>In 2015, More than 6,000 MW of gas-fired generation will be added to the U.S. grid, according to the Energy Information Administration. By 2035, natural gas is projected to be the biggest source of power generation in the U.S.</p> <p>As a result, demand for highly efficient gas turbine technology capable of supporting the growth of variable generation such as wind and solar is strong.&nbsp;</p> <p>GE said it has received 16 orders for its new HA air-cooled gas turbines. In addition, the HA turbine has been “technically selected” for 53 new gas-fired units worldwide. A tech-selection means the unit will use GE’s technology if it is commissioned and constructed. GE’s Laurent Cornu said he expects about 90 percent of those tech-selections will lead to real contracts with power producers within two years.</p> <p>Cornu is the product manager for GE’s 9HA.01 gas turbine. The 9HA.01 turbine can reach full capacity in less than 30 minutes, and delivers a whopping 61.4 percent net fuel efficiency.</p> <p>Virginia Electric and Power Co. recently ordered three gas turbines from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas (MHPSA). The gas turbine manufacturer has secured 39 contracts with power producers to supply its J-class gas turbines, including nine contracts in North America.</p> <p>Last year, MHPSA entered into a contract with Oklahoma’s Grand River Dam Authority to supply the 501J for a new combined cycle plant near Chouteau, Oklahoma. The new plant is expected to be up and running in spring 2017.&nbsp; The 501J is known for its higher firing temperatures and improved efficiency.</p> <p>Our cover story on page 14 provides more perspective on the market for gas-fired generation. We sat down with three high ranking executives from American Electric Power (AEP), Electric Power Research Institute, and GE Power &amp; Water to discuss the technology, the challenges and the benefits surrounding this promising market.</p> <p>Dan Lee, senior vice president of Fossil Generation at AEP, said most new central power stations in the U.S. will be fueled with natural gas. But, Lee added, the growth of gas-fired generation may not be as great as some are predicting.</p> <p>“Within AEP’s service territory, we continue to see relatively flat forecasted demand, and capacity markets like PJM are simply not providing a clear economic signal for new gas generation,” Lee said. “We are aware of newly permitted and proposed natural gas combined-cycle units in the PJM footprint, but ‘permitted and proposed’ does not always result in units being constructed.”</p> <p>According to a recent study, just 7 percent of all new generation proposed in PJM’s territory between 2000 and 2014 was placed in service.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the biggest trend in power generation in North America is the steady transition to natural gas. Issues related to operations and maintenance, siting and construction, gas turbine design, and gas engines will be featured at POWER-GEN Natural Gas 2015, Aug. 18-20 in Columbus, Ohio. If you have a question or comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/06/natural_gas_the_pre.html2015-06-26T20:16:00.000Z2015-06-26T20:40:37.732ZAnother Setback for Coalnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Environmental groups claimed victory last month after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled back decades-old policy that offered reasonable protections to power producers charged with providing homes and businesses a reliable supply of electricity.</p> <p>U.S. power plants have long been exempted from exceeding emission standards during startup, shutdown or malfunction (SSM). Exemptions are granted for good reason. Emission control equipment in a power plant must warm up before the plant can effectively control emissions. The chemical reactions required for controlling emissions cannot occur in the cold. It’s a technical reality associated with the operation of combustion boilers and has long been recognized by EPA rules that exempt utilities from exceeding emission limits during SSM events.</p> <p>Last month, however, the EPA issued a final rule, directing 36 states to stop providing exemptions for emission violations during SSM events. Not Surprisingly, EPA’s action is a response to a 2011 petition for rulemaking filed by the Sierra Club. It’s a legal tactic known as “sue and settle,” and it is being abused by the EPA and environmental groups engaged in a calculated campaign against the most important sector of the power generation industry – coal. In a sue-and-settle lawsuit, the plaintiff’s cause is supported by the defendant. In this case, the defendant is the EPA, which agreed to a prearranged settlement with the Sierra Club. In the end, both sides get what they want.</p> <p>Astonishingly, the new rule fails to recognize the science and chemistry surrounding the operation of a power plant. Under the new rule, EPA now believes power producers should be able to anticipate emissions violations during a startup or shutdown and take steps to maintain compliance. But emission control systems work only under specific conditions, and those conditions cannot be achieved during startup or shutdown.</p> <p>The truth is that the most efficient power plants are unable to meet emission standards outside of normal operation. That’s why states have long provided utilities an “affirmative defense” against enforcement actions and citizen lawsuits stemming from SSM events while other states unilaterally exempt emissions during such events.</p> <p>EPA now contends the Clean Air Act (CAA) prohibits exemptions for CAA violations. The agency’s U-turn stems from a recent ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In that case, which was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the court found that affirmative defenses cannot be used to shield companies from private lawsuits and penalties for CAA violations. It is up to the courts, not the EPA, to determine the penalty awarded in a private civil suit, the court found.</p> <p>Under the new rule, “Neither states nor the EPA have authority to alter either the rights of other parties to seek relief or the jurisdiction of the federal courts to impose relief for violations of CAA requirements.”</p> <p>The new SSM rule will undoubtedly be another tool used in the Obama administration’s War on Coal, a conflict borne from real rulemakings and policies. Under the new rule, utilities could be fined as much as $37,500 for each violation.</p> <p>Power producers contend EPA failed to prove the exemptions have caused specific harm and, therefore, does not have the authority to call on states to change their SSM provisions.</p> <p>The 36 states directed to change their policies to prohibit exemptions for SSM events have until Nov. 22, 2016 to comply. Those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/06/another_setback_for.html2015-06-04T17:16:00.000Z2015-06-04T17:16:58.419ZEnergy Storage: Poised for Growthnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Storing electricity on a large scale has long been pursued by electric utilities in hopes of using the power to cover periods of peak demand. The ability to store large amounts of power would help power producers fill the production gaps created by growing amounts of intermittent generation such as solar and wind power.</p> <p>Until recently, efforts to develop cost-effective, grid-scale storage solutions have yielded limited progress. But new mandates and breakthroughs have accelerated demand for a technology some say will become cost competitive with natural gas.</p> <p>According to Navigant Research, energy storage could grow to become a $21.5 billion market by 2024.</p> <p>The research firm projects that worldwide revenue from energy storage technologies could grow from $605.8 million in 2015 to $21.5 billion in 2024. In the U.S., about 220 MW of storage will be deployed this year, more than three times the capacity installed in 2014.</p> <p>The market for large scale energy storage technologies received a big boost in October 2013, when California adopted the nation’s first energy storage mandate. The measure requires the state’s investor-owned electric utilities to buy 1,325 MW of energy storage capacity by the end of 2020.</p> <p>A year later, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced plans to procure 260 MW of energy storage to offset a loss of capacity created by the closure of a nuclear plant and other facilities slated for retirement. SCE also unveiled plans to build one of the largest battery storage systems in the world. The $53 million project will use lithium ion batteries to store excess wind power. Nearly 11,000 battery modules will be housed in a 6,300 square-foot facility near California’s Tehachapi Mountains, where 4.5 GW of wind capacity is under construction and expected to be online by the end of 2016.</p> <p>Just this month, Tesla, an electric car company known for its lithium ion batteries, announced plans to enter the market for utility-scale grid storage.</p> <p>In addition, four companies, including Duke Energy, are building a 1,200 MW underground energy storage facility in Utah that uses compressed air. The $1.5 billion project is the largest of its kind, featuring four vertical caverns, each capable of storing 41 million cubic feet of high-pressure compressed air. The project is part of a larger initiative that includes the construction of a $4 billion, 2,100-MW wind farm and a $2.6 billion, 525-mile high-voltage transmission line. The project has been described as “The 21<sup>st</sup> century’s Hoover Dam.”</p> <p>During the first half of 2014, the amount of wind and solar capacity added in the U.S. more than doubled versus the first half of 2013. The U.S. added 2,478 MW of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar capacity during the first six months of 2014 while wind power accounted for 675 MW of new generation capacity. In California, state law requires power providers to generate 33 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2020.</p> <p>Utilities and grid managers are struggling to maintain a balanced load amid the growing amount of intermittent generation. A capable system for storing large amounts of power could bring more balance to supply and demand, making the grid more resilient and efficient.</p> <p>Worldwide, the demand for large-scale energy storage solutions, particularly lithium ion batteries, is significant.</p> <p>Other states may follow California’s lead and adopt similar requirements. Texas and New York are aggressively pursuing several initiatives to promote the development and commercial application of grid-scale energy storage.</p> <p>Home to more than 10,000 MW of wind power capacity, Texas has become a major testing ground for storage technology. Duke Energy built a large lead acid battery storage facility near a wind farm in west Texas. Dresser-Rand plans to build a 317-MW storage facility for compressed air in east Texas. In New York, state officials announced a $23 million public-private investment to build a battery storage test and commercialization center in partnership with NY-BEST.</p> <p>The growing market for energy storage systems and advancements in energy storage technology will be thoroughly discussed at POWER-GEN International 2015, Dec. 8-10, in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.power-gen.com/">www.power-gen.com</a></p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/05/energy_storage_pois.html2015-05-07T21:54:00.000Z2015-05-07T21:55:04.623ZThe Clean Power Plan, FutureGen, EPA and Jumbo Shrimpnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>The Obama administration’s policy on coal is like “jumbo shrimp.” It’s full of irony and contradictions.</p> <p>The administration’s dichotomous worldview reached a new level last month, when it pulled the plug on FutureGen 2.0, a $1.65 billion clean coal project in Illinois featuring carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. The 12-year effort, launched by President Bush in 2003, was suspended Feb. 3 after it became clear the public-private venture was not going to meet its target for private-sector funding.</p> <p>Although the market for CCS projects is almost nonexistent in the U.S., the lack of interest stems from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own proposal for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.</p> <p>EPA killed the market for commercial scale CCS projects when in 2013 the agency proposed limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired plants to 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour, well below the average CO<sub>2</sub> emission rate of 1,700 pounds per MWh for coal plants. The new standard was based on CCS technology, which isn’t used anywhere in the U.S. on a commercial-scale power plant.</p> <p>EPA argued the new standard would foster the development of CCS technology and boost demand for CCS projects. Instead, the proposal killed any incentive to build a coal-fired project in the U.S. With no incentive to build, there would be no incentive to advance CCS technology.</p> <p>If the standard were based on proven solutions such as supercritical and ultrasupercritical technologies, the industry would be pursuing new coal projects today and the development of CCS technology would be accelerating</p> <p>Under the Clean Air Act, any CO<sub>2</sub> standard for new plants must be based on “the best system of emission reduction” that has been “adequately demonstrated.” CCS has not met this standard, and the suspension of FutureGen bolster’s this claim.</p> <p>It’s another piece of evidence that EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which establishes CO<sub>2</sub> standards for new and existing power plants, is unreasonable and legally unsound.</p> <p>“It’s sort of another nail in the coffin of EPA’s proposal,” Jeff Holmstead, former assistant administrator of the EPA and a leading climate change lawyer, told Thomson Reuters.</p> <p>It will be difficult to reconcile the administration’s decision to scuttle FutureGen, the champion of CCS technology, with its proposal to mandate the use of CCS at new power plants fueled with coal.&nbsp;</p> <p>FutureGen was a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and an industry coalition known as the FutureGen Industrial Alliance. The DOE dubbed the project “groundbreaking.” Officials described it as a near-zero emissions plant using oxy-combustion technology to capture 1.1 million tons of CO2 each year – more than 90 percent of the plant’s CO2 emissions.</p> <p>“It makes no sense to pull the plug on $1 billion committed to America’s signature near-zero emissions power project at such a critical time for these investments in technology,” Gregory H. Boyce, chairman and chief executive officer of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company and a member of the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, said in a statement.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Susan Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, testified before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last month about the CPP, claiming the proposal is “unworkable.”</p> <p>The CPP, issued under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, would require existing power plants to reduce CO<sub>2</sub> emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Although the national average would be 30 percent, the specific reduction target for each state will vary. Under the proposed rule, each state’s CO2 reduction target is based on four building blocks: 1) Heat rate improvements; 2) Dispatch changes among affected units; 3) Increasing the use of renewable power; 4) Demand-side energy efficiency.</p> <p>For some states, building block 2 is the only option for meeting the reduction targets. “The proposal’s building blocks are unworkable, and few states will be able to meet the required interim emissions reductions by 2020,” Kelly told FERC. “States need a longer glide path.”</p> <p>If the Obama administration’s real intent is to curb CO<sub>2</sub> emissions without eliminating coal as an option for power providers, then its mission is surely in jeopardy.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Like jumbo shrimp, EPA’s plan to curb CO<sub>2</sub> emissions is fraught with contrasting ideas and principles. I’m sure the logical Mr. Spock would agree. Live long and prosper.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/03/the_clean_power_plan.html2015-03-03T22:27:00.000Z2015-03-03T22:28:55.611ZInvest in coal: It's the answer, not the problemnoemail@noemail.orgFrank Clemente, PhD.<p><i>Editor’s note: The following is a well-written contribution from Frank Clemente, Professor </i>Emeritus<i> of Social Science at Penn State University, former director of the university’s Environmental Policy Center and editor of the IEA report </i>The Global Value of Coal<i> (2012). Enjoy!</i></p> <p>Energy from fossil fuels is the lifeblood of modern society. Coal, oil and natural gas provide 85 percent of our energy and support an ever improving quality of life for billions across the world. Nevertheless, there is movement afoot to demand that universities and other institutions divest their financial holdings in fossil fuels. On February 13th,&nbsp;protesters will hold “Global Divestment Day” on college campuses. Although there is enough misleading information from this group to go around, the most vitriolic of their attacks are against coal-- particularly coal power plants. Since the responsibility of a University is to provide education, students and faculty should be given a &quot;cheat sheet&quot;&nbsp; on why they should support coal if they truly seek a better world. Clean coal is the fuel of the future. The protestors apparently are unaware of the environmental benefits of new clean coal technologies as well as the rising tide of population growth, urbanization and energy demand that is sweeping developing nations. As a university Professor for over 30 years I can attest that campus rhetoric never produced one single kilowatt hour of electricity.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are now 7.2 billion people and in the next generation the global population will grow to at least 9.6 billion and perhaps reach 11 billion. Energy demand will increase&nbsp;&nbsp; more than 50% and coal&nbsp; will be the continuing cornerstone of supply. Why is coal the world's fastest-growing major fuel in the 21st Century?&nbsp; It's not complicated. Coal is&nbsp;abundant , widely distributed, affordable, versatile and the scalable answer to not only improving the human condition but the physical environment as well. There is no substitute for coal. To replace the world's coal power plants would require: 100% of global natural gas production or 5,000 Hoover Dams or a nuclear power plant every four days for the next 25 years.</p> <p>Coal provides 40 percent of electricity, the foundation of modern society. Electricity means life. But over two billion have inadequate access to electricity and another 1.3 billion have none at all. Almost three billion people use primitive stoves to burn biomass--wood, charcoal and animal dung-- thereby be releasing dense black soot into their homes and the environment.&nbsp;Annual deaths from this household air pollution exceed four million per year-- one every eight seconds. The gathering and burning of wood and other biomass leads to deforestation, erosion, land degradation and contaminated water supplies.</p> <p>Electricity from coal is the solution to the human and ecological damage of this energy poverty. Global coal reserves approach one billion tons, are distributed across 70 countries and are accessible through an established and far reaching infrastructure to produce and deliver electricity. By 2030, 60 percent of the world's population will be urbanized. Coal is crucial to high volume production of electricity, steel and cement - the building blocks of cities. Urbanization protects the natural environment,&nbsp; getting billions off the land, allowing a flourishing biosphere, protecting watersheds and permitting greater agricultural production.</p> <p>Coal is the environmental solution as well. Clean coal technologies work, as has been well demonstrated in the United States where coal based electricity has increased 125 percent since 1970 while key regulated criteria emissions per kWh decreased 90 percent. New pulverized coal combustion systems, utilizing supercritical technology achieve much higher efficiencies and globally emit almost 40 percent less CO<sub>2</sub> than traditional plants. That's why over 500 of these supercritical units are now operating or being constructed.&nbsp; Importantly, these advanced plants are precursors to development of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), which itself is broadly recognized as a prerequisite to meeting climate policy goals.</p> <p>These marchers are behind the global curve. Technological&nbsp;and demographic realities have passed them by.&nbsp;The question is not whether the world will use more coal, but rather how that coal will be used. In a world closing on a population of 10 billion people,<a name="_GoBack"></a> the power of coal will not be denied.&nbsp;The road to sustainable energy, a better environment&nbsp;and poverty eradication will be paved by clean coal.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/02/invest_in_coal_its.html2015-02-09T20:17:00.000Z2015-02-09T20:18:13.088ZSolar Inequitynoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Solar power accounted for more than a third of new generation built in the U.S. during the first nine months of last year. What’s more, the U.S. installed more than 1,300 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the third quarter, up 41 percent compared with the same quarter in 2013, making it the second largest quarter for solar installations in the history of this emerging market.</p> <p>In five years, U.S. solar capacity has grown a whopping 993 percent to 17,500 MW. The growth stems from subsidies for rooftop solar panels and net metering programs that require utilities to purchase the excess power produced by homes and businesses at a set retail rate.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although this formula has been very effective, it is not sustainable at the pace the industry is growing and should be reconstructed to reflect the realities of maintaining and upgrading a grid used by rank-and-file citizens.</p> <p>The breakneck growth of solar PV is pinching the bottom lines of utilities in state after state. Battles between utilities and the manufacturers of solar panels have erupted in several states, where utilities have requested permission to charge customers who generate their own power monthly fees to pay for the maintenance and up-keep of a distribution and generation system that everyone still relies on. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The rules for net metering programs and solar incentives should be revisited and reassessed due to vastly different circumstances caused by this solar revolution. Net metering programs were never meant to be permanent. Regulators have a responsibility to consider the rapid growth of distributed solar and the subsequent cost to utilities and their customers.</p> <p>The growth of distributed solar, spawned by years of generous incentives, is affecting utilities’ ability to pay for the up-keep of distribution and generation assets because the cost of operating and maintaining the infrastructure is not collected from customers participating in net metering programs.</p> <p>Just last month, lawmakers in Indiana proposed a bill that would lower the payments consumers receive from utilities. In Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin enacted a law enabling utilities, upon approval of state regulators, to charge customers who have installed solar panels on their homes a monthly fee. What's more, House and Senate lawmakers in Virginia recently voted to repeal that state’s standard for renewable generation, which required utilities to get 25 percent of their generation from renewable resources by 2025. In addition, Oklahoma, Kansas and Ohio may weaken their standards for the amount of renewable generation a utility is required to provide. &nbsp;</p> <p>The battle over solar incentives, renewable standards and net metering programs is sure to escalate this year. A well-funded campaign against the policies that have fueled the breakneck penetration of solar power is being waged by utilities and their supporters.</p> <p>The consequences of these battles will be significant for both sides. For the solar industry, sales could plunge if the payments consumers receive from utilities are eliminated or fall to a level that doesn’t justify the cost of installation. For utilities, revenues will continue to fall and consumer rates could skyrocket if they are unable to convince state regulators to create a system that accounts for these disruptive forces.</p> <p>The current net metering structure creates a financial burden for customers who can’t afford to install expensive solar panels on their homes. For those customers, the cost of electricity will get more expensive as they pay a larger share of the cost to operate and maintain the nation’s grid.</p> <p>With 578,000 individual solar installations in the U.S., solar accounts for 17,500 MW of capacity, less than 2 percent of the nation’s total capacity.</p> <p>The debate over solar is about creating a just cost structure that is fair to both sides. This fight is expected to take place in more than two dozen states. The path to common ground will surely be turbulent.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follw me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/02/solar_inequity.html2015-02-03T20:18:00.000Z2015-02-04T17:24:40.878ZThe Debate over Distributed Generationnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>As electric utilities reel from significant revenue losses caused by the growth of distributed generation – power produced outside the grid by homes and businesses – power professionals remain deeply divided over the breadth of DG’s impact on centralized power.</p> <p>The division was plainly evident last month at POWER-GEN International 2014, where the debate raged in the conference rooms and hallways of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.</p> <p>&nbsp;“This is definitely creating a potential threat for utilities,” said Nisha Desai, vice president of Distributed Generation for NRG Energy. “The ones that are forward looking can turn this into an opportunity. The ones that don’t embrace it will certainly see their business models challenged.”</p> <p>The growing use of distributed generation is cutting into utilities’ profits and their ability to pay for the up-keep of power lines, substations and generation equipment. The result: Higher rates for consumers and more customers leaving the grid. The blogosphere is ablaze with dark narratives that place utilities in an economic “death spiral” created by advancements in DG and consumer demand for cleaner homegrown energy.</p> <p>John Easton, vice president of International Programs for the Edison Electric Institute and a former assistant secretary for the Department of Energy, said the predictions of a utility death spiral are farfetched.</p> <p>“Some people believe the utility is dead,” Easton said during the plenary session at POWER-GEN. “This is over a 100-year-old industry. I think it will transform. It simply will not die out.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Kim Greene, chief operating officer of Southern Company, one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the U.S. with 4.3 million customers, said the company is well equipped to adapt to this “disruptive force” for investor-owned utilities.</p> <p>“We are trying to create the right infrastructure and rate structure so that those customers who choose to use distributed generation are not being subsidized by the customers who don’t,” Greene said. “We are also adding several hundred megawatts of solar. So even for those customers who are getting power the way they traditionally have, solar now is a more significant part of that mix.”</p> <p>Mauricio Gutierrez, chief operating officer of NRG Energy, the largest independent power producer in the U.S. and a leader in DG development, said the opportunities for collaboration between centralized and decentralized power providers are abundant.</p> <p>“I think there is a way competitive energy companies and the utility space can work collaboratively,” Gutierrez said. “They can be partners. I don’t think it’s an either or.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, global consulting firm Accenture released an eye-opening study last month that measures the financial impact of the continued growth of distributed energy resources. According to the study, the growth of DG and energy efficiency could cause the revenues of U.S. utilities to plunge by up to $48 billion a year by 2025. During the same period, demand for power could fall by more than 15 percent as more homes and businesses produce their own power.</p> <p>The more likely impact on U.S. utilities would be at the lower end of the scale at around $18 billion a year, Accenture said. “This is because adoption of energy efficiency and distributed generation will become possible without subsidies,” said Valentin de Miguel, Accenture’s global managing director of Smart Grid Services.</p> <p>The study also included a survey of utility executives around the world. The survey included this question: Do you believe the concept of a “death spiral,” where your customers migrate off the grid or use the grid only as a backup, will materialize? A whopping 66 percent of U.S. executives said they believe the utility death spiral will materialize, while three percent said it is a significant risk that would impact a large percentage of their customers. Thirty-four percent did not believe the death spiral would materialize.</p> <p>However, despite reports of a looming death spiral for utilities, Accenture’s research shows that such a scenario is unlikely and would be too costly for a large number of consumers.</p> <p>The surge in DG is significant, but some utilities and states are making progress in modifying their business models to reflect the increasing use of DG. Claims that DG will lead to the death of centralized power are outdated. The industry has moved on and is adapting to the needs of consumers by developing more solar power.</p> <p>What do you think? Contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2015/01/the_debate_over_dist.html2015-01-12T14:40:00.000Z2015-01-12T14:41:14.555ZWho Will Replace Power's Aging Workforce?noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering magazine<p>Every sector of the energy industry is expected to lose a large share of its work force as millions of experienced professionals, baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964, become eligible for retirement over the next few years.</p> <p>By most accounts, the power sector will need more than 100,000 new skilled workers by 2018 to replace those retiring workers. But attracting new talent has become an arduous undertaking as the industry faces a shortage of qualified workers and increased competition for college graduates.</p> <p>The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that 39 percent of the nuclear workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2018, which means the industry must hire 20,000 new workers over the next four years to replace them. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Is the power generation industry prepared to compete with other industries for a new generation of skilled workers? What’s more, does the industry have a plan for training and knowledge sharing?</p> <p>There are about 78 million baby boomers in the U.S. They represent 28 percent of the U.S. population and 68 percent of the existing work force.</p> <p>About 40 percent of the work force at America’s electric and natural gas utilities will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. About 20 percent are eligible now. Who’s going to replace them?&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>According to the Department of Labor, as much as 50 percent of the nation’s utility workforce will retire in the next five to 10 years. The challenges associated with replacing the technical and institutional knowledge of these professionals will be significant. Hard decisions must be made soon to preserve intellectual property for the future.</p> <p>To further illustrate the sense of urgency, here are some eye-opening statistics compiled by the Center for Energy Workforce Development, a nonprofit consortium of electric utilities and associations:</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Almost 62 percent of utility employees have the potential to retire or leave over the next decade</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Nine percent are “ready to retire now” based on current retirement assumptions</p> <p>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; By 2015, 36 percent of employees in positions that the industry deems as critical may retire or leave for other reason and another 16 percent will exit by 2020</p> <p>The good news is the industry is forming partnerships with universities and other organizations that are designed to tap the nation’s pool of talented younger workers. The bad news is electric utilities are losing workers at an increasing rate, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.</p> <p>The voluntary turnover rate at electric utilities rose from 3.9 percent in 2010 to 4.9 percent in 2012. For high performers and tenured employees, the turnover rate increased from 2.7 percent in 2010 to 3.7 percent in 2012. The 2013 report also found that the turnover of utility employees during their first year was significantly higher, rising from 2.3 percent in 2011 to 5.5 percent in 2012.</p> <p>“This has created a turning point for utilities precisely because they have had so many decades of stability,” the PwC report found.</p> <p>Other industries are better equipped to retain employees, the report found. Electric utilities should rethink their approach to employee retention “as they confront the increasing turnover of newer and high performers, as well as the accelerating loss of experienced employees due to retirement.”</p> <p>As the economy improves, PwC expects that first-year turnover at utilities will continue to increase, and so will the cost. “If we assume, for example, that for every 1,000 new employees, 100 or so leave, at a cost of $2,300 to $3,600 per hire, that translates into significant cost – not to mention productivity losses,” the report found. &nbsp;</p> <p>The growing number of retirement-eligible employees, rising turnover costs and the generational shift in utility personnel are driving a loss of productivity in the power sector, according to the report.</p> <p>“Traditional ‘word-of-mouth,’ on-the-job training of utility workers is not sustainable,” the report said. “More than ever before, work processes and procedures should be documented and continuously improved.”</p> <p>Some utilities are encouraging older employees to delay retirement or to remain as contractors to mitigate the exodus of experienced personnel. But this approach can lead to bigger problems because it discourages innovation, the report found. Older, more experienced workers are less likely to push for change because there is not enough incentive to offset the risk to themselves.&nbsp; “Why, for example, would a worker who’s been successfully doing things ‘my way’ for 20-30 years change tack now, particularly if he or she only has a few more years until retirement or is back on the job as a contractor?” the report asked.</p> <p>Establishing a program for transferring knowledge is an essential element for dealing with “brain drain.” Veteran utility workers tend to pass valuable institutional knowledge orally, rather than documenting and updating the information systematically. This intellectual capital is often lost when the worker retires because there is no formal program to capture their know-how.</p> <p>Utilities across the country, including Spokane, Washington-based Avista expect to have job openings for engineers, computer technicians, managers, lineworkers and other skilled utility workers in the next five to 10&nbsp;years. The <i>Spokesman-Review</i> reported that at least 25 percent of Avista’s 1,600 employees will be eligible for retirement within five years. By 2024, that figure jumps to 40 percent.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twittter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/12/who_will_replacepow.html2014-12-03T15:40:00.000Z2014-12-03T20:29:10.046ZClean Power Plan is a "Glorious Mess"noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>We have learned a lot about the effects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Clean Power Plan since it was first introduced back in June.</p> <p>State regulators in Virginia say the plan will cost Dominion Virginia Power up to $6 billion to comply. Another study places the cost of compliance at $366 billion nationwide.</p> <p>What’s more, the plan depends largely on the displacement of coal in favor of natural gas to meet state targets for carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) emissions, a fact that power producers are deeply concerned about, especially after last year’s polar vortex, which sapped America’s gas supplies as they were re-routed for home heating. Power producers are rightfully worried the plan could accelerate the shutdown of coal-fired generation in the U.S., putting reliable and affordable power at risk by becoming too reliant on natural gas and its insufficient infrastructure.</p> <p>Under the proposed rule, each state’s CO<sub>2</sub> reduction target is based on four building blocks: 1) Heat rate improvements; 2) Dispatch changes among affected units; 3) Increasing the use of renewable energy; 4) Demand-side energy efficiency.</p> <p>Some power producers have expressed concern that the plan does not provide enough flexibility to comply. For some states, building block 2 is the only option for meeting the reduction targets. Power producers have questioned the feasibility of the plan, pointing to deficient gas pipeline capacity and the value created by major investments in much of the nation’s coal-fired generation. Under the proposed rule, the benchmark year would be 2012, which means any improvements completed at coal-fired plants during that year or before will not be recognized.</p> <p>The feedback has led the EPA to issue a request for more input about the methodology being used to meet the plan’s CO<sub>2</sub> emission targets. &nbsp;</p> <p>The EPA’s request for more information “is a frank admission that the plan is a ‘glorious mess’ forcing the agency to deploy procedural belts and suspenders to hold it together,” said National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn. “With enormous costs and unmeasurable benefits, the only option EPA should consider is withdrawal of this symbolic but expensive gesture on climate change.”&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Standard &amp; Poor’s, up to 75,000 MW of coal-fired generation may be shuttered by 2020 due to a host of new regulations targeting coal-fired plants. “We are really in for a wild ride for five to six years because of the amount of coal shutting down in such a short amount of time and the transformation toward more gas being used to generate electricity,” Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told <i>Bloomberg</i>.</p> <p>The Clean Power Plan would require existing power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Although the national average would be 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, the specific reduction target for each state will vary. EPA is expected to issue a final rule by June 2015. States would have until June 2016 to file their compliance plans, with one- and- two-year extensions available to qualifying states.</p> <p>“I’ve heard some states aren’t going to do it. They’re going to say give us a federal plan,” said Jacob Hollinger, former Clean Air Act attorney for EPA Region 2. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. If the state doesn’t submit a plan, EPA is going to impose a federal plan. If you end up with a federal plan, you’re going to have more burdens on EGUs than you are under a state plan.”</p> <p>In addition to concerns about the plan’s impact on reliability, many states contend the EPA proposal is unlawful. The staff of the Virginia State Corporation Commission said the proposal would impose substantially more stringent emission requirements for affected, existing generating units in Virginia than the standard for new units, yet to be built.</p> <p>Jeff Holmstead, former assistant administrator of the EPA and one of the nation’s leading climate change lawyers, said the rule will likely be overturned by the courts.</p> <p>“The idea that this somehow gives the EPA authority to require all states to fundamentally change the way electricity is produced and consumed in their state is a real stretch,” Holmstead said. “This is something that won’t withstand judicial scrutiny.”</p> <p>To withstand the certain legal challenge, EPA will need to modify its proposal by offering more compliance options. Changes to the EPA proposal will be forthcoming.</p> <p>The Clean Power Plan will be the topic of a Mega-Session entitled “Potential Impact of GHG Regulation on the Future of the Power Industry” at POWER-GEN International 2014. The session begins at 10 a.m. Dec. 11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/11/clean_power_planis.html2014-11-04T23:53:00.000Z2014-11-04T23:54:23.352ZEPA Rule Problematicnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>Like death and taxes, there are certain inescapable realities of operating a power plant.</p> <p>For example, coal-fired plants often exceed emission limits during startup, shutdown or malfunction (SSM). Similar to an engine in a car, emission control equipment in a power plant must warm up before the plant can effectively control emissions. The chemical reactions required for controlling emissions cannot occur in the cold.</p> <p>It’s a technical reality associated with the operation of combustion boilers and has long been recognized by EPA rules that exempt utilities from exceeding emission limits during SSM events.</p> <p>EPA freely acknowledges the most efficient power plants are unable to meet emission standards outside of normal operation. Some states provide utilities an “affirmative defense” against enforcement actions and citizen lawsuits stemming from SSM events while other states unilaterally exempt emissions during SSM events.</p> <p>Yet, the EPA last year proposed a new rule that would require 36 states to eliminate affirmative defenses for emission violations during startup and shutdown. Affirmative defenses for equipment malfunctions were preserved under the initial proposal. But just last month, the agency altered its proposal to prohibit the use of affirmative defenses against emission violations resulting from malfunctioning equipment.</p> <p>EPA made the change after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled in <i>NRDC v. EPA </i>that affirmative defenses cannot be used to shield companies from private lawsuits and penalties for Clean Air Act (CAA) violations caused by malfunctioning equipment. It is up to the courts, not the EPA, to determine the penalty awarded in a private civil suit, the court found.</p> <p>In its supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, published last month in the <i>Federal Register</i>, EPA said: “Neither states nor the EPA have authority to alter either the rights of other parties to seek relief or the jurisdiction of the federal courts to impose relief for violations of CAA requirements.” &nbsp;</p> <p>The proposed rule is scheduled to be finalized by May 22, 2015. Utilities could be fined as much as $37,500 for each violation, under the proposed rule.</p> <p>The SSM proposal is a sharp reversal of decades-old policy that offered reasonable protections to U.S. power producers charged with providing homes and businesses a reliable supply of electricity. It recognized the science and chemistry surrounding the operation of a power plant.</p> <p>&nbsp;EPA now believes utilities should be able to anticipate excessive emissions resulting from a planned startup or shutdown and can take appropriate steps to maintain continuous compliance. The EPA’s misguided goals are not based on sound science. Science fiction would be a more fitting description of the agency’s proposal. The technical realities involved in controlling emissions from power plants haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. Emission control systems work only under specific conditions. Those conditions cannot be achieved during startup or shutdown – not then or now. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, it’s as certain as death and taxes.</p> <p>Not Surprisingly, EPA’s proposal is a response to a 2011 petition by the Sierra Club, which claims the exemptions are loopholes designed to benefit power producers and expose the public to harmful emissions. It’s another example of a legal tactic known as “sue and settle” that is being abused by the EPA and environmental groups engaged in a calculated campaign against the power sector.</p> <p>In a sue-and-settle lawsuit, the plaintiff’s cause is supported by the defendant. In this case, the defendant is the EPA, which agreed to a prearranged settlement with the Sierra Club. In the end, both sides get what they want.</p> <p>EPA and the Sierra Club have a lot in common. Both are fully engaged in a campaign against the most important segment of power generation industry – coal. The EPA’s SSM proposal is part of the Obama administration’s War on Coal, a conflict borne from real rulemakings and real policies.</p> <p>I think Benjamin Franklin, America’s first environmentalist, would agree.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/10/epa_rule_problematic.html2014-10-10T15:34:00.000Z2014-10-10T15:35:13.028ZPOWER-GEN 2014 is Herenoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chairman, POWER-GEN International<p>It’s the largest annual forum for the power generation industry.</p> <p>More than 21,000 industry professionals from around the world will gather in Orlando for POWER-GEN International, where innovative and cost-effective solutions for maintaining, operating and building new power generation will be shared Dec. 9-11 at the Orange County Convention Center.</p> <p>More than 1,400 exhibiting companies from every sector of the industry will be showcasing their products and services on the exhibit floor. The exhibition opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday following the keynote session.</p> <p>POWER-GEN International offers a wealth of networking opportunities with leading professionals and key decision makers. More than 200 speakers will share their thoughts on trends, technology and project development in 43 conference sessions.&nbsp; A wide range of topics, from emissions control to gas turbine design, will be discussed by high-ranking regulators, developers, power producers and industry representatives.</p> <p>The keynote session on Dec. 9 will feature five high-ranking executives: Kimberly Greene, vice president and chief operating officer of Southern Co.; Mauricio Gutierrez, vice president and chief operating officer of NRG Energy; Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solution; and David Walsh, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Plenary Session on Dec. 11 will be a rapid-fire, content-rich discussion featuring John Easton, vice president of International Programs at the Edison Electric Institute, and Mark Garnett, vice president of the European Region for Doosan Power Systems.</p> <p>This year, POWER-GEN will come to Orlando with four co-located events: Nuclear Power International; the POWER-GEN International Financial Forum; Renewable Energy World North America; and the GenForum. We’re calling it Power Generation Week, featuring five conferences and three exhibitions under one roof. Altogether, more than 300 speakers will be featured in nearly 80 conference sessions during Power Generation Week.</p> <p>At POWER-GEN, 36 conference sessions will be held under eight tracks: Emissions Control, On-Site Power, Plant Performance, Gas Turbine Technologies, Fossil Technologies, Environmental Issues, Demand Response and Industry Trends/Competitive Power Generation.</p> <p>Here’s a sample of some of the sessions that will be offered: “Gas Turbine Design and Applications,” “Gas vs. Diesel Generator Sets,” “Steam Turbine/Generator Reliability, Availability and Efficiency,” “Quick Response Combined Cycle Power Plants,” “MATS and CO<sub>2</sub> Compliance Strategies,” “Energy Storage Applications from a Generator’s Perspective,” “Water Intake Regulations,” and “Effluent Limitation Guidelines and Coal Combustion Residuals.”</p> <p>Five mega-sessions are also scheduled. “Large Frame Gas Turbines,” “Distributed Generation: Who Gets the Benefits,” “Coal Plant Retirements,” “Integration of Real-Time Data, Analytics and Advanced Technology to Optimize Generation Assets,” and “Potential Impact of Greenhouse Gas Regulation on the Future of Power Generation.”</p> <p><b>SEVEN TECHNICAL TOURS</b></p> <p>Technical tours of seven power generation facilities will be offered to attendees on Monday, Dec. 8.</p> <p><u>Cape Canaveral</u></p> <p>Some of America’s greatest innovations were realized at Cape Canaveral, home of the Kennedy Space Center. It’s fitting that this historic site is now home to one of the most advanced power plants in the world. Florida Power &amp; Light’s Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center, a 1,200-MW combined cycle plant equipped with three SGT6-8000H turbines from Siemens, began commercial operation April 24, 2013. The plant was recognized by <i>Power Engineering</i> magazine as the Project of the Year for gas-fired projects in 2013. The deadline to register for this technical tour is Wednesday, Nov. 5. A background check is required to attend this tour.</p> <p><u>Hines Energy Complex</u></p> <p>Owned and operated by Duke Energy, the 1,912-MW Hines Energy Complex near Bartow, Fla., has four combined cycle units. The first unit began commercial operation in 1999 and subsequent units began operation in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The plant’s fourth power block is fueled with natural gas and light fuel oil with two GE 7FA combustion turbines, a GE D11 reheat steam turbine and two Nooter/Erikson heat recovery steam generators. Register early to reserve a seat for this tour.&nbsp;</p> <p><u>Cane Island</u></p> <p>A tour of the Cane Island Power Park is also available to attendees. The gas-fired power plant is near Intercession City in northwest Osceola County, Fla. It houses four generating units with a combined capacity of 735 MW. Unit 1 is a General Electric LM6000 PA aero-derivative simple cycle combustion turbine that is primarily used for peaking. Unit 2 is a GE Frame MS7001EA in combined cycle with a Nooter Erikson triple pressure HRSG that provides steam for a GE Fitchburg axial exhaust straight condensing turbine. Unit 3 is a GE 7241FA+e in combined cycle with a Aalborg triple pressure reheat HRSG that provides steam for a GE A10 reheat steam turbine. Unit 3 was the first combined cycle in Florida to install a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system. Unit 4 consists of a GE 7241FA+e in combined cycle with a Vogt triple pressure HRSG that provides steam for a GE A14 reheat steam turbine. Including duct firing capability, this unit will produce 300 MW.</p> <p><u>Rooftop Solar Array</u></p> <p>Attendees won’t have to travel far to tour the largest rooftop solar array in the southeastern U.S. The 1.1 MW photovoltaic array is on the roof of the North-South Building of the Orange County Convention Center and covers an area equivalent to five football fields. It was designed and installed by Johnson Controls. Costing more than $8 million and taking several years to construct, the project features 5,808 solar panels. The project began commercial production in February 2010. The tour will begin at the registration area in the West building.</p> <p><u>Wind Service Training Center</u></p> <p>The 40,000-square-foot Wind Service Training Center Orlando is near the global headquarters of Siemens’ Energy Service division and features the latest wind power innovations. The training center features two full-size nacelles, three 22-foot high climbing towers, electrical and hydraulic modules, and service cranes. The center was built to make training, safety and rescue simulations as realistic as possible. Register early to reserve a seat on this tour.</p> <p><u>Energy Garden</u></p> <p>Perhaps one of the most innovative anaerobic digestion projects of its kind in North America, Harvest Power’s Energy Garden provides superpowered waste management through its specially engineered design to co-digest biosolids with food wastes from local resorts, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, sports arenas, golf courses and the food processing community. &nbsp;The capacity is 130,000 tons per year with 5.4MW combined heat-and-power output.</p> <p><u>OUC Solar Farm</u></p> <p>A 400-kW solar array owned and operated by the Orlando Utilities Commission was brought online in October 2013. Each 1-kW block represents about 112 kilowatt-hours of monthly solar production. The array was built by ESA Renewables. &nbsp;</p> <p><b>PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS</b></p> <p>Attendees of POWER-GEN and Renewable Energy World North America can also choose from 31 Competitive Power College pre-conference workshops on Sunday Dec. 7 and Monday Dec. 9.</p> <p>Some of the workshop topics include “Basic Gas Turbine Metallurgy and Component Repair,” “Gas Turbine Combustion,” “Wind Project Development Fundamentals,” “Renewable Energy Venture Startup,” “Power Plant Construction Management: A Workshop for Survival,” “Root Cause Analysis for Power Generation,” “Asia Pacific Power Generation Market,” “Industrial Gas Turbines: An Introduction to Fuels, Combustion and Emissions,” “Effective Troubleshooting methods for Turbine and Generator Vibrations,” and “Project Management in Developing a Hydropower Station.”</p> <p><b>WIN A CORVETTE</b></p> <p>A car will again be given away this year. The drawing for a 2015 Corvette will be Thursday, Dec. 11. Entering is easy. Eligible attendees must take their entry card to the booths of the sponsoring companies, have it stamped by the sponsoring exhibitors and return the card to the PennWell booth prior to the drawing. As always, you must be present to win.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>GOLF</b></p> <p>Also, a golf tournament will be held Monday, Dec. 8, at Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course.&nbsp;</p> <p>This sweeping 18-hole course features elevated tees, spacious greens and challenging water hazards. Eleven of the 18 holes boast water hazards and 97 bunkers dot the course. Rated 4 Stars by Golf Digest, the Magnolia Golf Course is a paradise for serious golfers and a thrilling challenge for players at all levels.</p> <p><b>FINANCIAL FORUM</b></p> <p>The POWER-GEN International Financial Forum, scheduled Dec. 10-11, features seven conference sessions, including a plenary session entitled “The State of Power Project Financing.” The keynote address will be delivered by Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. The keynote luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10.</p> <p>Financial Forum panelists will explore the financing options and strategies that work best in today’s market. They will also discuss liquidity issues, risk and return expectations, new development possibilities, and the financial and regulatory barriers to overcome in today’s tight financial market. Are there emerging new sources of financing for energy projects? What are the risks associated with certain technologies and what risks worry lenders the most? Panelists will attempt to answer these and many other questions over the course of this conference.</p> <p>The Financial Forum offers a unique opportunity for project developers, lenders and others in the financial community to learn about and discuss the latest financing trends. What’s more, the Financial Forum gives financial specialists a chance to meet with the world’s leading engineering, procurement and construction firms as well as hundreds of equipment and service vendors. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.powergenfinancialforum.com/">www.powergenfinancialforum.com</a>.</p> <p>For complete conference, exhibition and registration information, visit <a href="http://www.powergenerationweek.com/">www.powergenerationweek.com</a>.&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/10/power-gen_2014_isal.html2014-10-02T18:05:00.000Z2014-11-25T21:48:43.254ZWhy Should You Care About Coal?noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Chief Editor, Power Engineering<p>As masses of arctic air swept down from the North Pole to engulf much of the U.S. last winter, the nation’s fleet of coal-fired power plants was called on to keep us warm amid frigid temperatures spawned by what’s popularly known as the polar vortex.</p> <p>Demand for electricity to heat homes and businesses soared in January and February. Nearly all of the increased demand was met with power produced by coal-fired plants, many of which are scheduled to be retired in a few short years. During the cold spell, power plants fueled with natural gas ran at much lower capacities or sat idle as gas supplies were re-routed to end users for home heating.</p> <p>“Two of the largest coal-burning utilities in the country – AEP (American Electric Power) and Southern Co. – told us that more than three quarters of the required demand that they met this past January and February came from coal plants that are going to get retired in the next couple of years,” said Ben Yamagata, executive director of the Coal Utilization Research Council.</p> <p>Last winter’s cold spell is just one example of how coal-fired power has played a critical role in maintaining a reliable U.S. grid and why it should be preserved.</p> <p>Coal is the cheapest and most abundant fuel in the world. It fosters economic stability by providing low-cost power to manufacturers and has long been a buffer to the volatility of fluctuating natural gas prices. Yet, the U.S. is expected to retire about 54 GW of coal-fired capacity by 2016 amid a campaign by environmental groups to end the use of coal in the U.S.</p> <p>As the U.S. discourages the use of coal through misguided regulation, the rest of the world is turning to coal to stabilize chaotic power markets and provide electricity to regions of the world in desperate need of reliable and affordable power. In Germany, where renewable power supplies are sold at guaranteed prices and dispatched to the grid before conventional resources, power prices have skyrocketed, utilities have recorded huge financial losses and reliability has suffered. To mitigate these problems, Germany plans to add more than 7,000 MW of coal-fired power by 2015.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Africa, India and China continue to build coal-fired generation to meet the energy needs of millions.</p> <p>Imposing unrealistic limits for carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing coal-fired plants in the U.S. will do little, if anything, to reduce climate change. &nbsp;</p> <p>“If we eliminate all of the coal plants in the U.S., we will have effectuated 3 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions,” Yamagata said last month during the keynote session at COAL-GEN 2014. “By 2019, in China and India, coal plants planned or under construction will emit annually as much or more CO<sub>2</sub> than the entire U.S. coal fleet currently emits annually.”</p> <p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, unveiled in June, would require existing power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. By EPA’s own estimates, the rule would force power producers to close more than 60 percent of the nation’s coal-fired generation. Debate over the timeline, the cost and the methods for compliance will continue for months or even years as the industry challenges the rule in court.</p> <p>One thing is certain. If the rule is not withdrawn or redesigned, costs will rise and jobs will be lost over a plan that will have little or no effect on global greenhouse gas emissions.</p> <p>“A 10-percent increase in electricity costs leads to a 1 percent decrease in GDP (gross domestic product) and a loss of as much as 1.5 million jobs,” Yamagata said. “There are all kinds of projections about the consequences of the 111(d) rule. I don’t know what the right answer is. What I know for certain is it’s going to cost money. Price matters.”</p> <p>But the costly requirements of EPA’s proposal may never be realized, said Jeff Holmstead, former assistant administrator of the EPA and one of the nation’s leading climate change lawyers. The rule will likely be overturned by the courts because the EPA has no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, Holmstead said.</p> <p>&nbsp;“If the Supreme Court stays the way it is today, I’m 100 percent confident there are at least five votes that would say this goes well beyond what the EPA is authorized to do under the Clean Air Act,” Holmstead said last month during a forum in Nashville, Tenn. “The idea that this 111(d) somehow gives the EPA authority to require all states to fundamentally change the way electricity is produced and consumed in their state is a real stretch. This is something that won’t withstand judicial scrutiny.”</p> <p>What’s more, the controversial rule could easily be scuttled by a Republican administration, Holmstead said.</p> <p>“There are some EPA regulations that are very difficult to undo. But this is not one of those,” he said. “It will be very easy for a new administration to come in and say this isn’t consistent with our view of the agency’s authority.”</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/09/why_should_you_care.html2014-09-03T19:53:00.000Z2014-09-03T19:54:09.250ZThe Solution to Climate Changenoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>By most accounts, capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) from a commercial-scale power plant is a risky undertaking due to the cost, liability and questions about the process.</p> <p>But carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology remains the most important technological solution to climate change, a claim bolstered by two new CCS projects announced last month and two ongoing CCS projects that will be placed online later this year.</p> <p>After many setbacks and regulatory obstacles, CCS projects in North America appear to be making progress once again thanks to several demonstration projects and power producers who recognize the value of CCS technology in a carbon-constrained world.</p> <p>&nbsp;NRG Energy, the largest independent power producer in the U.S., said last month it will add a CCS system to an existing coal-fired plant near Houston, Texas, where it will capture 90 percent of the CO<sub>2</sub>. The $1 billion project will be the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture project, NRG said. It will capture about 1.4 million tons of CO<sub>2</sub> annually, which will be used to boost oil production from a nearby oil field – a process known as enhanced oil recovery.</p> <p>The project stems from the research gathered during a three-year pilot project at Southern Co.’s Plant Barry, which successfully captured more than 150,000 tons of CO<sub>2</sub> each year. The same technology deployed at Plant Barry will be used by NRG. The process was jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kansai Electric Power.</p> <p>On a much smaller scale, Kentucky Utilities announced plans to install a carbon capture system at the company’s E.W. Brown Generating Station near Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The $19.5 million project is being funded largely with $14.5 million in financial assistance from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. Others involved in the research and implementation of the project include the Electric Power Research Institute, the University of Kentucky, the Carbon Management Research Group, Duke Energy and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas.</p> <p>What’s more, CCS projects at Southern Co.’s Kemper power plant in Mississippi and SaskPower’s Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan will be up and running later this year. These two commercial-scale projects will demonstrate how technology can turn coal-fired generation into the most effective tool to combat climate change.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks to projects like these, the cost of CCS will come down and the technical challenges will be overcome.</p> <p>The truth is most of the scientific community supports CCS as a critical tool for reducing CO<sub>2</sub> emissions from power plants. Without CCS, the cost of greenhouse gas reduction would skyrocket, said Julio Friedmann Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal in the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.</p> <p>“If you take CCS off the table, the cost of abatement goes up 50 to 80 percent,” Friedmann said during a forum earlier this year.</p> <p>Gareth Lloyd, general manager of corporate affairs at the Global CCS Institute, said during a press conference last year the world will still be getting more than half of its energy from fossil fuels in 2060, which means “CCS is not an optional technology if we’re to address climate change.”</p> <p>According to the institute, the 21 large-scale CCS projects under construction or in operation around the world can capture up to 40 million tons of CO<sub>2</sub> annually, which is tantamount to removing 8 million cars from the road each year.</p> <p>For now, gas-fired power plants in the U.S. are not required to capture any of their carbon emissions. Coal-fired power plants emit almost twice as much CO<sub>2</sub> than natural gas-fired plants and cannot comply with new CO<sub>2</sub> emission standards without building an expensive CCS system. But CCS will eventually be required for gas-fired generation because gas-fired plants, which produce 800 to 850 pounds of CO<sub>2</sub> per megawatt-hour, remain a significant source of CO<sub>2</sub> emissions in the U.S. &nbsp;</p> <p>“We will be doing this for natural gas plants,” Friedmann said.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the federal government is providing billions of dollars to the developers of CCS projects. In addition to $6 billion targeted for CCS in the 2009 Recovery Act, the DOE has funded several demonstration projects and is providing up to $8 billion in loan guarantees for CCS projects. Peter Davidson, executive director of DOE’s Loan Program Office, will share more details about the DOE’s $8 billion solicitation during the keynote session at COAL-GEN 2014, Aug. 20-22 in Nashville, Tennessee.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/08/the_solution_to_clim.html2014-08-12T20:24:00.000Z2014-08-12T20:25:21.900ZThree Big Questions about Obama's Carbon Rulenoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the first ever limit for greenhouse gas emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The proposed rule would require existing plants to reduce carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.</p> <p>Although the national average will be 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, the specific reduction target for each state will vary. The reductions will be based on the characteristics of each state’s fleet of generation. Each state would be assigned a reduction target and would be expected to make “meaningful progress” toward those reductions by 2020.</p> <p>The rule does give states suitable flexibility to meet the reduction targets through the best system of emission reduction (BSER). States can use a variety of compliance strategies ranging from improved heat rates of a generating unit to demand-side management programs designed to lower electricity consumption. States can use methods inside and outside the fence of a power plant to meet the reduction target.</p> <p>With public hearings on the proposed rule scheduled to begin later this month, many questions linger. Here are three important questions many people are asking: &nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will it survive the legal challenges?</b></p> <p>The most controversial piece of the rule centers around the method EPA used to set different “target rates” for each state.</p> <p>The target rates were set by choosing a best system of emission reduction, or BSER, for each state. Did EPA apply the BSER properly? Did the agency choose reasonable target rates for each state? This is where much of the legal battle will be fought.</p> <p>The proposal relies heavily on reduction strategies that occur beyond the fence of a power plant, a departure from traditional strategies that occur inside the fence at the unit itself. The proposed standard could not be achieved through improvements made inside the fence lines of America’s power plants. Options that go beyond the fence were needed to reach the EPA’s standard.</p> <p>Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the EPA has set an arbitrary goal that fails to recognize the capabilities of a power plant.</p> <p>&nbsp;“If the EPA is serious about providing states flexibility, the agency should use an ‘inside the fence’ approach that allows each state to set emissions standards for existing power plants by evaluating each unit’s ability to improve efficiency and reduce CO<sub>2</sub> emissions in a cost-effective way,” Pruitt said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The EPA will issue a final rule by June 2015. That’s when the litigation will begin. States will have until June 2016 to file their compliance plans, with one- and- two-year extensions available to qualifying states.</p> <p>By the way, the June 23 Supreme Court decision to limit EPA’s authority in establishing CO<sub>2</sub> limits for new and expanded facilities will have no effect on the Obama administration's ability to set CO<sub>2</sub> limits for existing plants.</p> <p><b>How much will it cost?</b></p> <p>The rule would cost the industry an estimated $8.8 billion annually in compliance costs and cause a 3 percent increase in the average electricity rate paid by U.S. consumers by 2030, according to the EPA.</p> <p>For some states, the cost of compliance could be significantly higher. In South Carolina, where consumer rates have jumped 37 percent in five years, CO<sub>2</sub> emissions must be reduced by 51 percent by 2030 under EPA’s proposal. Only two other states have larger reduction targets.</p> <p>The cost to consumers will be higher than the EPA claims, according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. The EPA’s calculation assumes electricity consumption will fall 10 percent by 2030, which means consumers would be charged higher rates for consuming less power.</p> <p>Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank based in Chicago, said the EPA rule will cost about $51 billion and eliminate 224,000 jobs each year through 2030.</p> <p>“This is Obamacare for the environment,” Bast said. “Guaranteed to raise costs, reduce choices, and destroy an existing industry.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will it have a meaningful effect on climate change?</b></p> <p>It might help, but it’s not nearly enough.</p> <p>U.S. power plants account for just 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed rule would cut global GHG emissions by less than 1 percent at an estimated cost of $8.8 billion a year.</p> <p>Although the rule is a good step in the right direction, it would have little or no effect on curbing the rate of global climate change.</p> <p>Meanwhile, CO2 emissions in 2013 were 10 percent below 2005 levels, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/07/three_big_questions.html2014-07-07T14:19:00.000Z2014-07-07T14:20:17.893Z2014: The Year of Utility-Scale Solarnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>The boom in solar power has moved well beyond the rooftops of U.S. homes and businesses to large-scale projects using concentrating solar power (CSP) technology.</p> <p>In a new report released late last month, the Department of Energy identified five new utility-scale projects in the U.S. that will become fully operational this year.</p> <p>“These five CSP plants will nearly quadruple the preexisting capacity in the United States, creating a true CSP renaissance in America,” the report said.</p> <p>The surge in CSP development is being driven by new innovations, tax incentives and federal and state grants for utility-scale solar power. The projects include Crescent Dunes, a 110-MW solar farm on 1,600 acres in Nevada; the Mojave project, a 250-MW facility on a 1,765-acre site in southern California; the Solana project, a 250-MW solar farm on 1,900 acres in Arizona; the Genesis project, a 250-MW project on a 1,800-acre site in southern California; and the Ivanpah project, the largest CSP plant in the world with a capacity of 392-MW on 3,500 acres in southern California.</p> <p>According to the DOE report, 2014 “marks a significant milestone in the history of American Solar Energy.” According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 30 utility-scale solar projects are in some stage of development in the U.S. The association says 2014 will be a record year for CSP installations, with 840 MW of CSP capacity expected to be commissioned by the end of this year.</p> <p>CSP plants use giant “U” shaped mirrors to capture the sun’s energy throughout the day. The sunlight is reflected and concentrated onto a receiver, where the heat rises to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated transfer fluid inside the receiver is used to generate steam and electricity in a conventional steam turbine.</p> <p>CSP plants can perform like a traditional baseload power plants, providing power on demand through a thermal energy storage system. “It can provide electricity whenever needed by an electric utility to meet consumer demand,” the report said. &nbsp;</p> <p>At the end of 2013, the U.S. had more than 13 GW of installed solar capacity – 15 times the amount of installed capacity in 2008, according to the DOE report. Meanwhile, utility-scale solar is growing at a faster rate than residential solar. Utility-scale solar installation grew nearly 58 percent last year and accounted for almost 60 percent of all solar installations in the U.S.</p> <p><i>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at </i><i>russellr@pennwell.com</i><i>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1. </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/06/2014_the_year_ofut.html2014-06-11T13:17:00.000Z2014-06-11T13:18:28.917ZA Reasonable Water Rulenoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>After 40 years of legal wrangling between utilities and environmental groups, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month issued a new rule governing water intake structures at U.S. power plants.</p> <p>The final rule, drafted under Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, requires plants that draw more than 2 million gallons a day and use 25 percent of that water for cooling to install the best technology available (BTA) to minimize the mortality of aquatic life. Fish, larvae and shellfish are killed when they become trapped (impinged) against water intake structures or sucked (entrained) into the cooling system and exposed to heat, pressure, chemicals and machinery. According to the EPA, more than 2 billion fish, crabs and shrimp are killed each year by impingement or entrainment at U.S. power plants.</p> <p>The final 559-page rule was lauded by the power sector for its flexibility and denounced by environmental groups for not mandating specific, costlier technologies. More than 500 U.S. power plants will be affected by the measure. Under the new rile, these plants can choose one of seven options to comply with BTA requirements.</p> <p>The measure requires plants to perform a site-specific study to help determine the best options, including closed-cycle cooling systems or less costly options such as screens designed to protect fish and other marine life. Under the new rule, state regulators will decide which option is the most suitable based on the design of each plant.</p> <p>The long-awaited rulemaking ends decades of uncertainty for the power sector. Power producers can now move forward with compliance plans without the fear of being forced to implement costly and significant changes. The most costly provision of the new rule may be the site-specific study the EPA is requiring to help determine the best technology option for each plant.</p> <p>Dominion Resources, under pressure to build new cooling towers at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, said it was satisfied with the final rule. “The rule does not mandate the use of costly and energy-intensive cooling towers at all facilities, yet it will result in major capital investments in advanced technologies that are suitable for each facility,” Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell said in a statement. “This reasonable approach will minimize costs to our customers and recognizes our responsibility to protect the reliability of the electric grid.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/06/a_reasonable_waterr.html2014-06-09T16:18:00.000Z2014-06-09T16:18:54.002ZDistributed Generation and the Integrated Gridnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>Distributed generation – power produced by homes and businesses using batteries, solar panels, reciprocating engines and small wind turbines – is, without question, a burgeoning market in power generation and a “disruptive force” for the developers and operators of large central power stations.</p> <p>Distributed generation, or on-site power, has become a central focus for many engineering firms and technology companies. In February, GE launched a new Distributed Generation business to capitalize on what it described as a “$100 billion opportunity.” According to GE, distributed power will grow 40 percent faster than global electricity demand between now and 2020.</p> <p>The surge in distributed energy resources (DER) is significant, and some utilities and states are making progress in modifying their business models to reflect the increasing use of DER. But claims that DER will lead to the death of centralized power are gross exaggerations, to say the least. Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told reporters last year that, “Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything.”</p> <p>Reports like these distort the true state of the U.S. power generation market and the direction it’s headed. Distributed solar capacity in the U.S. grew to nearly 10 GW last year. That’s less than 2 percent of the nation’s total generation capacity. What’s more, the cost of rooftop solar is still much higher than power produced from coal, gas, nuclear, wind and utility-scale solar.</p> <p>The growth of distributed generation will be measured in very small increments. According to one analysis, distributed generation capacity in the U.S. is expected to grow to 20 GW by 2020.</p> <p>A new report from the Electric Power Research Institutes highlights the dangers of deploying large amounts of DER without planning for its integration. The report, <i>The Integrated Grid: Realizing the Full Value of Central and Distributed Energy Resources</i>, pointed to the rapid deployment of DER in Germany and the problems it caused for the nation’s grid and its utilities.</p> <p>The large and rapid deployment of DER in Germany created large spikes in electricity rates, reliability issues, and significant financial losses for electric utilities. German utility RWE reported a $3.8 billion loss in 2013 because they failed to recognize the effects of a disruptive technology. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“German policymakers and utilities now are changing interconnection rules, grid expansion plans, DER connectivity requirements, wind and PV incentives, and operation to integrate distributed resources,” the report said. A successful integration of DER should recognize that “the best solutions vary with local circumstances, goals and interconnections.”</p> <p>Distributed solar isn’t the only DER making serious moves in the power generation market. Many industries are turning to combined heat and power projects (CHP), also known as cogeneration, to power their businesses. The number of CHP projects powered by gas turbines and gas-fired reciprocating engines are on the rise.</p> <p>In North America, CHP capacity is projected to grow from 93,500 MW now to nearly 116,000 MW in 2020, according to GlobalData, a research and consulting firm. Cheap natural gas, new incentives for CHP projects and a public demand for greater efficiency and reduced emissions are driving the development of CHP projects across the nation.</p> <p>“They make great economic sense and the environmental impact is also quite unique,” said Scott Parent, Engineering Leader for GE’s new Distributed Generation business. “What we’re seeing is really good economics with specialized factories and processing plants that make great sense.”</p> <p>Last year, David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, described the shift to distributed generation as a “mortal threat” to utilities. In his latest conference call with investors, Crane reiterated DG’s threat to the century-old business model used by utilities.</p> <p>“Our industry is on the cusp of disruptive change,” he said. “New energy technologies now cost effective and available to be deployed at scale will transform the traditional power sector and the vertically integrated utilities that have dominated it since the 1930s.</p> <p>&quot;Think of 50 million American homes, each with a distributed solar system at $20,000 a pop on average,&quot; Crane said. &quot;That represents&nbsp;a trillion dollar market opportunity.&quot;</p> <p>Crane has a different vision for utilities. He sees a world where utilities own and operate DER. In his call with investors, he said the grid is becoming “increasingly obsolete and unreliable” for a population that is reducing its reliance on centralized power every day.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/05/distributed_generati.html2014-05-07T22:26:00.000Z2014-05-07T22:26:51.927ZCHP: An Emerging Marketnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>Combined heat and power (CHP), a highly efficient form of generation used to power a wide range of industries, is perhaps the most underutilized and underappreciated source of electricity production in the U.S.</p> <p>But cheap natural gas, new incentives for CHP projects and a public demand for greater efficiency and reduced emissions are driving the development of CHP projects across the nation.</p> <p>CHP plants, also known as cogeneration plants, recycle the waste heat produced during power production for manufacturing processes and other useful purposes. By capturing and utilizing the excess heat, CHP plants can achieve energy efficiency rates of 75 percent or higher, well above efficiency rates for conventional power stations.</p> <p>More than 4,000 MW of new CHP capacity are in some stage of development in the U.S., according to ICF International, a research and consulting firm. Most of that capacity – more than 1,000 MW – will be built in Texas. In the Midwest alone, the industry has announced plans to build 38 CHP projects between 2014 and 2016. More Midwest projects are under development but haven’t been announced.</p> <p>In North America, CHP capacity is projected to grow from 93,500 MW now to nearly 116,000 MW in 2020, according to GlobalData, a research and consulting firm.</p> <p>Altogether, the U.S. has more than 82,000 MW of CHP capacity at 4,200 sites. More than 70 percent of that capacity is fueled with natural gas. Most of that power is used in industrial applications such as paper, refining, chemical and food processing. CHP is also used to power hospitals, universities, military bases and residential facilities.</p> <p>The potential to add more CHP capacity to the U.S. grid is significant, ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 MW, according to some studies.</p> <p>The Obama administration wants to boost CHP capacity by 40,000 MW, or 50 percent, by 2020. That was the goal established in an executive order directing several federal agencies and departments to encourage more investment in CHP projects through existing programs and policies.</p> <p>If that goal is met, American businesses would save an estimated $10 billion a year in energy costs. The emissions reduction would be tantamount to taking 25 million cars off the road.</p> <p>California-based Capstone Turbine Corp. has installed 471 CHP systems in the U.S., which translates to more than 3 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide&nbsp; (CO<sub>2</sub>)<sub> </sub>emissions versus CO<sub>2</sub> emissions from conventional power plants. In 2013 alone, Capstone customers avoided nearly 300,000 tons of CO<sub>2 </sub>emissions.</p> <p>CHP accounts for 9 percent of total generation capacity in the U.S. In a 2008 study by Oak Ridge National Labs, researchers found that boosting the use of CHP to 20 percent of total U.S. capacity would save 5.3 quadrillion thermal units of fuel per year. That’s equal to nearly half of the total energy consumed by all U.S. households. Achieving that level of CHP capacity would also cut CO<sub>2</sub> emissions by 60 percent, which is the equivalent of taking 154 million cars off the road.</p> <p>In addition to using very little water, CHP plants emit 40 percent fewer emissions compared with conventional power stations.</p> <p>In Europe, CHP capacity is projected to grow from 202 GW now to 245 GW by 2020 at a rate of 3.2 percent a year, according to GlobalData.</p> <p>“With its strict emission and carbon savings targets, coupled with its focus on decentralized energy, Europe is comfortably the biggest market for CHP installations,” said Sowmyavadhana Srinivasan, senior power analyst for GlobalData.</p> <p>CHP, or cogeneration, has been around for 100 years. It has quietly been providing highly efficient, reliable power to the nation’s most important industries for a long time. In addition to CHP’s high efficiency ratings, the technology offers the flexibility and reliability grid managers need to accommodate growing amounts of variable wind and solar power.</p> <p>Like combined cycle gas turbines, CHP systems fueled with gas can be used to support the deployment of renewable power.</p> <p>As power producers face a market where centralized coal and nuclear power plants are no longer practical options for new capacity, CHP offers utilities a proven alternative that is cleaner, more efficient and less costly.</p> <p>As the Obama administration pursues new carbon limits for new and existing power plants in the U.S., the market for CHP capacity will continue to grow.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/04/chp_an_emerging_mar.html2014-04-02T16:47:00.000Z2014-04-14T21:04:33.720ZThe Evolving Coal Plantnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>Coal-fired power plants can and should play a starring role in the integration of renewable power.</p> <p>That was the conclusion of researchers who prepared an eye-opening report for the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The December 2013 report, <i>Flexible Coal: Evolution from Baseload to Peaking Plant</i>, showcased the transformation of a 1970s era coal-fired plant, which was modified to cycle on and off at low generation levels like a peaking plant.</p> <p>“This study proves that coal can be part of a power system with high levels of renewable energy,” said NREL’s Jaquelin Cochran, the report’s lead author. “Coal plants can be modified to respond to the changing output of renewable energy and run at low levels when renewable electricity generation is high but demand is low, such as at night.”</p> <p>The case study offers a glimpse at the future of coal-fired generation, a world where coal is used to offset the fluctuations in renewable power through greater flexibility. It also provides a road map for incentivizing and modifying similar projects.</p> <p>&nbsp;The report summarizes the hardware and operational modifications at an unnamed coal generating station in North America, which was originally built to run as a baseload plant with an 80 percent annual capacity factor. The plant was designed to run near full capacity most of the year, but the addition of nuclear capacity displaced most of the plant’s coal-fired generation.</p> <p>Today, the plant cycles on and off “as many as four times a day,” the report shows. “It is one of a few coal plants worldwide to accomplish this level of flexibility.”</p> <p>The steam generator and supporting equipment – boilers, rotors, condensers, turbines and pulverizers - &nbsp;were modified to enable frequent cycling. But giving the plant the ability to cycle on and off at lower output required few modifications in hardware. The most extensive modifications centered around the plant’s operational practices. In fact, the plant’s owner estimated “90 percent of future savings in costs came from adjustments to operating procedures,” according to the report.</p> <p>The plant cycled on and off as many as four times a day to meet peak demand. The increased cycling and the rapid changes in temperature and pressure led to several issues, including thermal fatigue, turbine corrosion, boiler tube failures, cracked rotors and wear and tear on auxiliary equipment.</p> <p>“There is a cost to this flexibility,” Cochran said. “But these costs can be minimized with strategic modifications and maintenance.”</p> <p>Despite the wear and tear to equipment, the plant continues to operate profitably, thanks to increased inspection, monitoring and training.</p> <p>“The plant owner has achieved what few coal plant operators have been able to do,” NREL said in its report. “Key to the owner’s success is changing operational practices.”</p> <p>The point is this: Power plants equipped with combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) technology are highly efficient and flexible, but CCGT technology isn’t the only option available to power producers and grid managers who are struggling to maintain a balanced load amid a growing source of intermittent electricity. The NREL report shows that older baseload coal units can be reinvented to support the use of cleaner-burning power.</p> <p>The NREL report serves as compelling evidence that the key to suppressing climate change and preserving this nation’s most abundant and reliable source of generation is greater flexibility for coal-fired plants.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The name of this column, “The Evolving Coal Plant,” is also one of seven conference tracks being offered at COAL-GEN 2014 in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 20-22. This issue will be discussed in detail during one of the sessions at COAL-GEN, where panelists will examine ways to improve the flexible generation of coal-fired plants to accommodate the integration of more renewable power.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/03/the_evolving_coalpl.html2014-03-04T22:44:00.000Z2014-03-04T22:45:15.340ZA "Remarkable" Projectnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>Later this year, Southern Co.’s controversial Kemper power plant will be placed online and the world will see how technology will turn coal-fired generation into an effective tool to combat climate change.</p> <p>The 550-MW integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) facility in eastern Mississippi will be the first large-scale coal plant in the U.S. to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Kemper will convert lignite or brown coal, the dirtiest and cheapest form of coal, into a cleaner-burning syngas. Carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>), the greenhouse gas scientists have linked to global warming, and other impurities are then stripped from the gaseous fuel before it is burned. The resulting emissions will be as low as those produced by a power plant fueled with natural gas. What’s more, the captured CO<sub>2</sub> will be piped 62 miles south, where it will be used for enhanced oil recovery.</p> <p>“Quite remarkable,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said after visiting the project back in November. “We’re going to need not 10, maybe 100 more of these plants across the country.”</p> <p>The Kemper project represents a technological tool for suppressing climate change and preserving one of this nation’s most abundant and reliable resources for power generation.</p> <p>The problem, though, is cost. At more than $4 billion, the project’s cost is more than a billion dollars over budget, according to Southern Co. subsidiary Mississippi Power.</p> <p>But the cost is sure to come down as more CCS projects, including SaskPower’s Boundary Dam project in Canada and Summit Power’s Texas Clean Energy Project, are deployed. To foster this mission, the U.S. Department of Energy has funded several demonstration projects and is providing up to $8 billion in loan guarantees for CCS projects. The first deadline to apply is Feb. 28.</p> <p>“Carbon capture is obviously an important part of what we’re trying to do at the Department of Energy,” Peter Davidson, executive director of DOE’s Loan Program Office, said while speaking at POWER-GEN International 2013. “We really want to get the word out that the government is open for business with this $8 billion solicitation.”</p> <p>Despite the progress made at Kemper, CCS remains a questionable technology and is not commercially viable on a national scale. A number of CCS projects have failed, primarily due to economics and disputes over government policy. But over time, the cost of CCS technology will come down and the technical challenges will be overcome with the help of DOE funding of further research and development.</p> <p>While Kemper is an exemplary project that illustrates the promise of CCS as a technological solution to climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to establish the nation’s first-ever limit on CO<sub>2</sub> emissions based on CCS technology is grossly premature. The limit – 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour for coal plants – would be impossible to meet without building a costly CCS system. The agency pointed to Kemper, claiming the project is proof that CCS is ready for commercial deployment on a national scale.</p> <p>But the technology used at Kemper was developed under a unique set of circumstances and cannot be replicated in other parts of the country. The CCS system at Kemper was developed by Southern Co. along with its partners and should not be used to establish a national standard for CO<sub>2</sub> emissions.</p> <p>Right now, CCS technology is not being used at a commercial-scale power plant anywhere in the U.S. Yet, the EPA is using the technology to establish environmental law. Under the Clean Air Act, any CO2 standard for new plants must be based on “the best system of emission reduction” that has been “adequately demonstrated.”</p> <p>At POWER-GEN International 2013, Amy Ericson, president of Alstom U.S., said the technology has not met that legal threshold just yet because CCS providers are still unable to guarantee compliance. However, Ericson is confident the technology will be ready for large-scale commercial operation once more testing and demonstration is performed.</p> <p>“There are projects moving forward throughout the globe,” Ericson said. “It will reach commercial viability. It’s just a matter of when.”</p> <p>The power sector and the U.S. government have not given up on research and implementation. They can’t afford to ignore what many describe as the most important technological solution to climate change.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/02/a_remarkable_proje.html2014-02-04T19:55:00.000Z2014-02-04T19:56:36.719ZRethinking Wind Powernoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>Once again, the federal subsidy that has driven the construction of new wind power projects in the U.S. has expired. But don’t expect a quick extension like last year.</p> <p>Congress isn’t expected to consider an extension of the 2.3 cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit until it concludes discussions on tax reform. That could take months. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Although the credit expired Jan. 1, there is still plenty of work for wind power developers in 2014.</p> <p>New orders for wind turbines and new power purchase agreements for wind energy will continue in 2014 because the credit applies to projects under preliminary construction by Dec. 31, 2013. Previously, qualifying projects were required to be in operation by the end of the year. The change, which acknowledges the 18- to- 24-month construction timeline for wind power projects, allows developers to build new projects beyond 2013. As long as a developer incurs just 5 percent of the project’s total capital cost before the credit expires, they will have until 2015 to put the project into service and claim the credit.</p> <p>But without an extension or an alternative solution, wind power development will eventually grind to a halt, as it did this time last year after Congress waited until the eleventh hour to extend the credit another year. Months of uncertainty in 2012 killed the market for new projects as wind turbine manufacturers shut down factories and cut jobs.</p> <p>“Our industry still faces uncertainty in the medium and long term and needs Congress to address that,” said Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public policy for the American Wind Energy Association. “The legislative vehicle could be tax reform, an extenders package or something else, but, ultimately, our industry will begin to feel the impacts of uncertainty in 2014.”</p> <p>Historically, lawmakers have renewed the credit for wind and other forms of renewable power shortly after they expire in a legislative measure known as an “extenders package.” This year, however, an extension has been placed on hold as lawmakers take on a major overhaul of the nation’s tax system.</p> <p>The overhaul may include long-term incentives for wind power. But an extension of the credit is not a given. Some say the long-standing credit for wind power should not be revived, arguing that wind power is a mature technology that no longer needs government support. What’s more, critics maintain the growth of wind power undermines the reliability of the U.S. grid because of its intermittent nature and limited transmission capacity.</p> <p>The uncertainty in the U.S. may encourage some developers to take their projects abroad. Walt Hornaday, president of Cielo Wind Energy in Austin, told the <i>Fort Worth Star-Telegram</i> last month that he is hopeful the tax credit will be renewed but added his company is making plans for the credit’s demise.</p> <p>“Canada, Mexico and South America are pretty busy right now,” Hornaday said. “Pretty much everything except for Europe is open to more wind energy right now.”</p> <p>As Congress considers and debates ideas for tax reform, the industry should use this time to rethink its strategy for financing wind power projects in the U.S.</p> <p>Without the credit, many projects would not be profitable because the price to produce the power often exceeds the price it can be sold for under long-term power purchase agreements. The 10-year credit creates a predictable return for investors and reduces the risk. What’s more, wind power generally can’t compete with gas-fired power at today’s prices. Wind power becomes competitive when gas prices exceed $6 per thousand cubic feet. By most accounts, gas prices will remain well below $6 for several years.</p> <p>While a long-term extension may be the most effective way to promote the development of new wind power projects, developers must face reality and begin preparing for life without the production tax credit for wind. Without new financing strategies or a sharp spike in gas prices, the industry will experience a long stint where virtually no new wind power projects will be financed or built.</p> <p>New projects can be financed with well-structured deals, even in the absence of production tax credits. They will be more difficult to finance and build, but there are a number of approaches that can be used to turn a marginal project into a fruitful venture.</p> <p>Spread the risk out among multiple projects. This will reduce the risk for investors by providing a safeguard against an underperforming project or technology. The use of risk management tools such as insurance, hedges or contracts in combination with a reputable power purchaser will lower the perception of a project’s risk. These and other strategies were featured at POWER-GEN International’s Financial Forum, Nov. 13-14, in Orlando, Fla.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2014/01/rethinking_wind_powe.html2014-01-08T15:32:00.000Z2014-01-08T15:33:22.291ZAn Industry in Transitionnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>In 2007, Oklahoma Gas &amp; Electric announced a bold new strategy, bucking the longtime business traditions of investor-owned electric utilities. The Oklahoma City-based utility, serving 800,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, said it would not build any new generation until after 2020.</p> <p>“We were going to rely on demand response and other ways to ring efficiency out of our system,” said Pete Delaney, chairman, president and chief executive officer of OG&amp;E.</p> <p>Delaney shared his company’s story and his thoughts on the need to revamp the business model for electric utilities during the keynote session at POWER-GEN International 2013 last month in Orlando, Fla.</p> <p>Load growth normally served by utilities is increasingly being met by distributed generation – power from rooftop solar panels, micro wind turbines, geothermal systems and energy storage. The shift to distributed generation is threatening the century-old business model for electric utilities, which have long made money by building power plants and collecting a guaranteed return on those investments. But demand for new generation has slowed as more homes and businesses produce their own power and turn to more efficient appliances and services.</p> <p>OG&amp;E was one of the first utilities to respond with a major initiative to deploy smart grid technology and a demand response program that offered customers greater choice and control.</p> <p>“How long will the economic business model for regulated utilities continue to work for customers and shareholders?” Delaney said before 3,000 power professionals attending the keynote session. “We’re clearly an industry in transition. We better be in transition.”</p> <p>The utility’s decision to invest in smart grid technology and buck the conventional approach of building new generation in exchange for a guaranteed return has led to stunning results. Customer satisfaction has never been higher and shareholder returns have doubled over the last five years. What’s more, customers are saving nearly $200 a month and the efficiencies have led to a substantial reduction in the utility’s peak-load.</p> <p>“Are we really about delivering and growing electricity? I don’t think that is our mission anymore,” Delaney said. “What is our strategy? We have to redefine that. Mastering technology is going to be important.”</p> <p>At the time of OG&amp;E’s announcement, many questioned OG&amp;E’s unconventional approach.</p> <p>“Internally, there was quite a lot of push back because they had always been geared towards load growth and building power plants,” he said.</p> <p>Jim Rogers, outgoing chairman and former CEO of Duke Energy, said the industry has seen its monopoly on generation and transmission erode over the last 25 years. Now, the industry is on the verge of losing its monopoly on distribution.</p> <p>“Our distribution monopoly is being challenged and that’s the state of play,” Roger said during the keynote session at POWER-GEN.</p> <p>As power producers face flat to declining demand for electricity, they must adjust to this new paradigm by modernizing their generation, transmission and distribution assets, Rogers said.</p> <p>“As new technologies come on, I believe there will be significant productivity gains in generation, transmission and distribution,” Rogers said. “But we have to have the capital to invest in these new technologies.”</p> <p>Changing the culture of an industry that has used a long-standing business model to generate returns for investors will be long and difficult, Delaney said.</p> <p>“The cultural transformation is extremely important,” he said. “We’ve been at it for six or seven years. It takes a long time, but it’s critically important to success going forward.”</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/12/an_industry_in_trans.html2013-12-17T21:16:00.000Z2013-12-17T21:17:24.843ZDisruptive Forcesnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor<p>It wasn’t that long ago when making a phone call required a massive network of copper wire. But advances in wireless technology and a torrent of new competitors allowed customers to “cut the cord” affordably. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>A similar transformation of America’s century-old business model for electric utilities may be on the horizon.</p> <p>The rapid growth of distributed generation – power from rooftop solar panels, micro wind turbines, geothermal systems, and energy storage technology – is a “disruptive challenge” that poses an imminent threat to the regulatory model that has long been used by utilities to generate a return on their investments, according to a report from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).</p> <p>“The threat to the utility model from disruptive forces is now increasingly viable,” the report stated.</p> <p>The growth of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, in particular, has led utilities across the nation to reexamine policies, incentives and net metering programs as more homes and businesses produce their own power. The growing use of distributed generation is cutting into utilities’ profits and their ability to pay for the up-keep of power lines, substations and generation equipment.</p> <p>Earlier this year, David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, described the shift to distributed generation as a “mortal threat” to utilities. “They can’t cut costs, so they will try to distribute costs over fewer and fewer customers,” Crane said. As a result, electric bills will rise, which will drive more customers to invest in distributed generation at their homes and businesses, he said.</p> <p>In what is expected to be a record year for new solar installations in the U.S., an estimated 4,400 MW of solar PV capacity will be installed this year, up 30 percent compared with 2012, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Meanwhile, advances in battery storage and micro wind turbines are expected to lower the costs of those technologies.</p> <p>“As the cost curve for these technologies improves, they could directly threaten the centralized utility model,” the EEI report stated. “While we would expect customers to remain on the grid until a fully viable and economic distributed non-variable resource is available, one can imagine a day when battery storage technology or micro turbines could allow customers to be electric grid independent.”</p> <p>That day is far away, but it may be closer than most people think.</p> <p>Most utilities are fighting the shift to distributed solar with campaigns to end or slash net metering programs that pay homeowners for the power they produce. In addition to lost revenue, utilities are concerned a high penetration of intermittent distributed solar will create voltage and reliability problems.</p> <p>Other utilities are getting in front of this change, embracing distributed generation by building solar panels on top of buildings and enacting feed-in tariffs, which guarantee stable prices for the developers of renewable projects. By buying rooftop solar arrays and other sources of distributed generation, utilities can avoid costly investments in new power lines and power purchase contracts.</p> <p>So which way should the industry go? Should it embrace distributed generation? Or, should it fight to preserve a long-standing business model that fosters financial health for investor-owned utilities?</p> <p>The rules for net metering programs and solar incentives should be revisited and reassessed due to vastly different circumstances caused by the solar revolution. Net metering programs were never meant to be permanent. Regulators have a responsibility to consider the rapid growth of distributed generation and the subsequent cost to utilities and their customers.</p> <p>But stopping the transition to distributed generation won’t be possible, because it is a lifestyle change that resonates with consumers. At some level, utilities must adapt their business model to account for rooftop solar panels, efficient appliances, better battery storage and residential wind power.</p> <p>Right now, the industry isn’t sure how it should react to these “disruptive technologies” that are threatening its long-standing business traditions. The industry is at a crossroads. The question is which way will it go?</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/11/disruptive_forces.html2013-11-06T20:17:00.000Z2013-11-06T20:18:07.229ZA Disappointing and Dangerous Rulemakingnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor, Power Engineering<p>If you don’t think the War on Coal is real, the revised greenhouse gas rule for new power plants should leave no doubt that U.S. regulators are fully engaged in a campaign against the most important segment of the power generation industry.</p> <p>The industry was hoping for a balanced, common-sense approach that would lower CO<sub>2</sub> emissions without taking coal out of the mix. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an impractical proposal based on conjecture about a technology that is not used anywhere in the U.S.</p> <p>It is yet another example of the EPA drafting a rule without the data or evidence to support it.</p> <p>The industry was hoping for a proposal that would keep coal in the mix by allowing utilities to build innovative coal plants such as the ultra-supercritical coal-fired John W. Turk Plant, the most efficient coal-fired power plant ever built, and the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, one of the cleanest coal-fired plants in the country. These kinds of projects, however, could not be built under the revised GHG rule because they would not be able to meet the rule’s draconian limits for CO<sub>2</sub> emissions.</p> <p>The revised New Source Performance Standard for CO<sub>2</sub> emissions is essentially no different than the original proposal, which established one CO<sub>2</sub> limit – 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour – for all new power plants. The re-proposed rule corrected this fundamental legal flaw in the original proposal by establishing separate standards for coal- and gas-fired plants. But the re-proposed rule failed to provide a meaningful difference in the standard for new coal plants. The new standard is 1,100 pounds per MWh, only slightly higher than the first proposal and still well below the average CO<sub>2</sub> emission rate for coal plants – 1,700 pounds per MWh. The standard for gas plants remained at 1,000 pounds per MWh.</p> <p>The revised rule is a halfhearted attempt at pragmatism. During her confirmation, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was hailed as a great pragmatist who could reach a good-faith compromise with the power sector. The revised rule is a clear sign this assumption was wrong. The new rule signifies her commitment to a calculated strategy to advance the administration’s anti-coal agenda.</p> <p><b>The Best Technology?</b></p> <p>Under the Clean Air Act, any CO<sub>2</sub> standard for new plants must be based on “the best system of emission reduction” that has been “adequately demonstrated.” This is where the battle will be fought.&nbsp; </p> <p>EPA based the CO2 limit for coal plants – 1,100 pounds per MWh – on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. Astonishingly, EPA found that CCS technology has been adequately demonstrated and is available. The logic is confounding. The problem is the technology has never been used or demonstrated on a commercial-scale power plant in the U.S.</p> <p>EPA pointed to a handful of CCS projects that are still under development, including a 582-MW coal gasification plant in Kemper County, Miss. The plant, which is designed to capture 65 percent of its carbon output, should begin generating power next year.</p> <p>The question is this: Can the EPA impose a technology based on projects still under development or in planning, or should CCS be demonstrated on a working power plant? This question will no doubt be answered by the courts.</p> <p>Forces within the federal government don’t agree about the availability of CCS technology. While the EPA claims CCS technology is ready and available, officials within the Department of Energy will tell you privately the technology is not yet feasible for commercial applications.</p> <p>EPA also concludes that strict emission limits on CO<sub>2</sub> would foster the development of CCS research and technology. The truth is no one will build another coal-fired plant in the U.S. because the standard for coal is unachievable with current technology. With no incentive to build, there will be no incentive to advance CCS technology. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“By stopping the development of new coal plants, the EPA is halting the development of carbon capture and storage technologies,” said Robert Duncan, CEO of the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity.</p> <p>The industry has not abandoned coal. Without the Obama administration’s draconian rules for power generators, the industry would be pursuing clean coal projects to mitigate the risk associated with the unruly price of natural gas.</p> <p>It is a misguided rule that eliminates coal as an option and endangers the reliability and affordability of America’s power supplies.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>. Follow me on Twitter @RussellRay1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/10/a_disappointing_and.html2013-10-10T21:19:00.000Z2013-10-10T21:20:46.793ZPOWER-GEN International: Celebrating 25 yearsnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray<p>POWER-GEN International, the world's largest annual forum for the power generation industry, made its debut 25 years ago in Orlando, Fla. The inaugural event, &quot;POWER-GEN '88,&quot; was small, with less than 100 exhibiting companies and about 600 registered attendees.</p> <p>Today, more than 1,200 exhibiting companies showcase their products and services on the exhibit floor at POWER-GEN, and more than 21,000 people attend the three-day event. POWER-GEN International is returning to Orlando Nov. 12-14 for its 25th anniversary in what promises to be the most exciting POWER-GEN to date.</p> <p>POWER-GEN International and its co-located events offer a wealth of networking opportunities with leading professionals and key decision makers. More than 300 speakers will share their thoughts on trends, technology and project development in more than 70 conference sessions.</p> <p>To commemorate POWER-GEN'S 25th anniversary, PennWell will be recognizing the power generation industry's 25 most influential people over the last 25 years. The industry's most influential person will be named the week of POWER-GEN International 2013. The 25 most influential people were nominated and selected based on a poll of industry professionals.</p> <p>Once again, POWER-GEN will come to Orlando with three co-located events: NUCLEAR POWER International; the POWER-GEN International Financial Forum; and the Renewable Energy World Conference &amp; Expo. That's four conferences under one roof.</p> <h2>KEYNOTE SESSION</h2> <p>The keynote session on Nov. 12 will feature high-ranking executives, including James Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy Corp., Peter Delaney, chairman, president and CEO of OGE Corp., Amy Ericson, president of Alstom U.S., and David Dunning, group executive of Fluor Corp. </p> <p>The plenary session will be a rapid-fire, content rich discussion featuring Michelle Bloodworth, vice president of Business Development for America's Natural Gas Alliance, and Revis James, director of Generation Research &amp; Development at the Electric Power Research Institute.</p> <h2>PROJECTS OF THE YEAR AWARDS</h2> <p>Presented by <i>Power Engineering</i>, the Annual Awards Gala begins Monday, Nov. 11 with a cocktail reception, followed by a three-course dinner and includes award presentations for Projects of the Year and Papers of the Year. The Papers of the Year recognizes the top papers in each conference track. The Projects of the Year Awards recognize the world's best power projects, honoring excellence in design, construction and operation of power generation facilities. The award winners – nominated by the industry and selected by the editors of <i>Power Engineering</i> and RenewableEnergyWorld.com – are announced and presented with awards recognizing their exceptional contributions to the power generation industry. The gala is open to the award finalists, their guests and all POWER-GEN International, NUCLEAR POWER International, Renewable Energy World Conference &amp; Expo North America and POWER-GEN Financial Forum attendees.</p> <h2>CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS</h2> <p>At POWER-GEN, more than 40 conference sessions will be held under eight tracks: Emissions Control, On-Site Power, Plant Performance, Gas Turbine Technologies, Fossil Technologies, Environmental Issues, Demand Response, and Industry Trends/Competitive Power Generation.</p> <p>Here's a sample of the some of the sessions that will be offered: &quot;Flexible Generation,&quot; &quot;Compliance Control Strategies and Technologies,&quot; &quot;Gas Turbine Technology Developments,&quot; &quot;Gas Turbines: An O&amp;M Perspective,&quot; &quot;Steam Turbine-Generator Reliability, Availability and Efficiency,&quot; &quot;Multi-Pollutant Emissions Control Technologies,&quot; and &quot;How Demand Response is Impacting Utility Planning.&quot;</p> <h2>WOMAN OF THE YEAR</h2> <p>The first POWER-GEN International Woman of the Year Award will be given to a pioneering woman from the power generation industry. Nominated and selected by a committee of her peers, the honor of being named the POWER-GEN International 2013 Woman of the Year will be given to a leader who has advanced the power industry in a meaningful way. The winner of the POWER-GEN International 2013 Woman of the Year Award will be announced during the Projects of the Year Awards Gala on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.</p> <h2>TECHNICAL TOURS</h2> <p>Technical tours of five power generation facilities and technologies will be offered on Monday, Nov. 11.</p> <p><b>Cane Island</b></p> <p>On 170 acres surrounded by nearly 1,000 acres of protected wetland, Cane Island burns natural gas as the primary fuel. The plant is capable of producing 710 megawatts of electricity. The Cane Island Power Park is a mixture of modern gas and steam turbine technology. Unit 1 is a General Electric LM6000 PA aero-derivative simple cycle combustion turbine that is primarily used for peaking. Unit 2 is a GE Frame MS7001EA in combined cycle with a Nooter Erikson triple pressure HRSG that provides steam for a GE Fitchburg axial exhaust straight condensing turbine. Unit 3 is a GE 7241FA+e in combined cycle with a Aalborg triple pressure reheat HRSG that provides steam for a GE A10 reheat steam turbine. Unit 3 was the first combined cycle in Florida to install a SCR. Unit 4 consists of a GE 7241FA+e in combined cycle with a Vogt triple pressure HRSG that provides steam for a GE A14 reheat steam turbine. Including duct firing capability, this unit will produce 300 megawatts.</p> <p><b>Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center and DSI Systems</b></p> <p>With more than $275 million invested in state-of-the-art pollution control equipment, the Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center has the power to safeguard the air, water and quality of life in Central Florida. It is owned and operated by the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC). And, with a gross capacity of 1,833 megawatts, it also has the power to deliver reliable electric service both now and for generations to come. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1987 and has a capacity of 450 MW. Unit 2 began commercial operation in 1996 and also has a capacity of 450 MW. It is the first pulverized coal unit of its size in the U.S. to use Selective catalytic Reduction to remove nitrogen oxide.</p> <p><b>Stanton Solar Power Project</b></p> <p>The 6-MW Stanton Solar Power Project, completed in December 2011, delivers clean, affordable energy to the OUC. The ground-mounted photovoltaic system, comprised of more than 25,000 poly crystalline panels, is located at the OUC's Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center. A single axis tracking system increases output by up to 30 percent, and the system performed at 104 percent of estimated production during its first six months.</p> <p>Stanton was the first solar farm in Orange County, Florida and can generate enough renewable energy to power more than 600 homes.</p> <p><b>Culture Fuels Inc.</b></p> <p>Culture Fuels Inc., an algae-to-fuels company based in Lakeland, Fla. has developed a patent pending hybrid cultivation platform FloatAlgae, a highly-productive, low-cost photobiorector that floats on a body of water. It significantly increases algal biomass density, which according to the company reduces the capital and energy needed for harvesting equipment. This improved engineering solution allows for the production of cost-competitive end products using natural algae strains. Visitors will be able to see the Culture Fuels laboratory.</p> <p><b>PV Solar Installation</b></p> <p>It's one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in the southeast! The roof of North-South Building of the Orange County Convention Center is home to a 1.1 MW photovoltaic array that was designed and installed by Johnson Controls. Costing more than $8 million, funding partners included the State of Florida and the local utility. The project went online in February 2010. The tour will begin at the registration area in the West building and will walk across the pedestrian overlook bridge to the South building. Attendees will then take the freight elevators to the HVAC Penthouse level, where they view and learn about the inverters and other components necessary to run the solar array. Finally, they will step out onto the roof to take in the full array and ask questions about the project.</p> <h2>SEE YOU IN ORLANDO!</h2> <p>POWER-GEN International has covered it all, providing a world stage for the innovations, ideas and solutions that have defined the industry for more than two decades. Since its inception in 1988, POWER-GEN has evolved into the largest power generation event in the world.</p> <p>For complete conference and registration information, visit <a>www.power-gen.com</a>&nbsp;</p> <h2>&nbsp;</h2> <h2>&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/09/power-gen_internatio0.html2013-09-10T20:47:00.000Z2013-09-10T20:48:49.411ZWhere's the Beef, EPA?noemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray, Managing Editor<p>Many of you have written a thesis, dissertation, essay or academic paper in support of one position over another. Providing hard and persuasive evidence is critical in justifying your stand and winning consensus on tough issues.</p> <p>The Environmental Protection Agency has failed miserably to heed this precept as it pursues some of the costliest regulations in U.S. history. &nbsp;In many instances, the evidence either does not exist or has not been revealed to the American people.</p> <p>The EPA is moving forward on several new rules that would impose strict standards on air emissions and water management at U.S. power plants without providing the evidence or data to justify the need of more regulation. The agency’s new rule governing water intake structures at existing power plants is a perfect example.</p> <p>Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act would affect roughly 670 power plants in the U.S. It would require plants that draw more than 2 million gallons a day and use 25 percent of that water for cooling to install the best technology available (BTA) to minimize the mortality of aquatic life. Losses occur when fish and other organisms become trapped (impinged) against water intake structures or sucked (entrained) into the cooling system and exposed to heat, pressure and machinery. The rule requires the best technology to mitigate what it describes as “adverse environmental impact” resulting from entrainment and impingement.</p> <p>However, we still don’t know what constitutes an “adverse environmental impact” because the rule, which was first introduced in 1972, does not provide a definition. The term has long been understood by the scientific community to refer to adverse changes in the abundance and productivity of fish and other aquatic life.</p> <p>The problem is this: There is no scientific evidence that shows a reduction in entrainment and impingement would lead to measurable improvements in fish populations. That was the conclusion of a peer-reviewed article authored by Lawrence Barnthouse and published in the May issue of <i>Environmental Science &amp; Policy</i>. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“Any impacts caused by impingement and entrainment are small compared to other impacts on fish populations and communities, including overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and invasive species,” wrote Barnthouse, whose research was sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute.</p> <p>The 316(b) rule was first enacted in 1972 when Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments. Since then, the rule has been suspended and rewritten several times in a long and drawn out legal battle between utilities and environmental groups. After 40 years, the EPA is expected to release the final rule in November.&nbsp; </p> <p>Interestingly, in the 40 years since the rule’s enactment, the EPA has not performed a single study that shows entrainment and impingement impact fish populations any more than recreational fishing.</p> <p>“Adverse impacts have been implicitly or explicitly defined as entrainment and impingement per se, irrespective of whether any adverse changes in populations can be demonstrated or predicted,” wrote Barnthouse. “The rarity of documentation of such impacts, after 40 years of operation of large power plants, some of which have been conducting extensive monitoring programs for several decades, provides substantial evidence that impacts related to entrainment and impingement are generally small.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, the rule, in its current form, would require power producers to install expensive fish-protection technology and does not recognize the use of less costly solutions that may actually be more effective than those identified in the draft rule.</p> <p>But the EPA’s deception doesn’t stop there. The information used to establish many of the air-emission standards promulgated by President Obama and the EPA has not been released to the public. The data has been kept secret as the Obama-run EPA moves forward with rules that will cost U.S. utilities and their customers billions.&nbsp; </p> <p>In a July 29 column he wrote for <i>The Wall Street Journal</i>, Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of Texas’ House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said the EPA has obstructed the committee’s request for this data at every turn.</p> <p>“The costs of these rules will be borne by American families. They deserve to know what they are paying for,” Smith wrote. “If the administration does not provide this data by the end of July, the science committee will force its release through a subpoena. The federal government has no business justifying regulations with secret information.”</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at russellr@pennwell.com&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/07/where_s_the_beefep.html2013-07-31T19:54:00.000Z2013-07-31T19:56:26.538ZThe Devil Could be in the Detailsnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray<p>Last month, President Barack Obama officially announced plans to use his executive powers to establish greenhouse gas limits for new and existing power plants in the U.S. The long-awaited announcement contained few details, but it marked the beginning of what will surely be intense negotiations between regulators, environmental groups and utilities.</p> <p>There will be lawsuits, bi-partisan wrangling and a lot of pontificating.</p> <p>Already, the power generation industry has announced plans to retire more than 60 GW of coal-fired generation by 2020. That’s about 19 percent of the nation’s coal-fired capacity. Some of these closures stem from the benefits of low-priced natural gas. But a significant number of these closures stem from a bevy of new rules and standards for mercury emissions, coal ash storage, wastewater treatment and cooling water technology. Establishing the first-ever limits on CO<sub>2</sub> for new and existing plants will inflate the number of shuttered coal plants in the U.S.</p> <p>But the actual impact of Obama’s climate-change plan is almost impossible to measure at this point. It depends on the standard the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets and how the plan is rolled out, said Mac McFarland, chief executive officer of Luminant, Texas’ largest power provider.</p> <p>“The devil is in the details and those details will need to be practical and actionable,” McFarland told the <i>Dallas Morning News</i>. “It’s not just the number, but how the reductions over time are achieved.”</p> <p>If the CO<sub>2</sub> standards for coal plants are based on proven and available technology and the industry is given enough time and flexibility to comply, the vast majority of U.S. coal-fired generation can remain online under Obama’s climate-change plan.</p> <p>The Obama-run EPA is expected to release final CO<sub>2</sub> limits for new power plants by Sept. 20. A proposal to limit CO<sub>2</sub> from existing plants is expected to be issued in June 2014 and finalized by June 2015.</p> <p>The Clean Air Act allows the EPA to set separate standards for each fuel type – coal, oil and natural gas. What’s more, the law allows a separate standard based on the best emission reduction technology for each fuel type. Right now, the proposed GHG rule for new plants would establish one standard – 1,000 pounds per MWh – for gas and coal plants. But this standard can only be met by using one type of fuel – natural gas – and one type of generating technology – combined cycle.</p> <p>“It was written more for a gas plant than a coal plant,” said Tim Curran, president of Alstom Power. “We believe they’re working on correcting the rule. Something has to change there in order to keep coal in the mix.”</p> <p>The rule, in its current form, would likely be tossed out by an appeals court because it fails to provide the flexibility proffered under the Clean Air Act. The EPA is rewriting the rule so it can withstand a legal challenge from coal-fired power producers. By law, the EPA cannot finalize CO<sub>2</sub> standards for existing plants until it finalizes the proposed standard for new plants. One is inextricably tied to the other under the Clean Air Act.</p> <p>A coal plant would not be able to meet the proposed standard without installing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system, a risky undertaking due to the cost,&nbsp;liability and questions about CCS technology.</p> <p>“The proposed rule seemed to prohibit new coal without any kind of CCS technology. That’s concerning,” said Jim Heilbron, senior vice president of Alabama Power. “We were happy to participate in those 2 million or so comments that were received. We would suggest that you separate out standards for gas and for coal. That only seems to be appropriate.”</p> <p>Obama’s climate-change plan will be widely discussed at COAL-GEN 2013, Aug. 14-16, in Charlotte, N.C. To register online, visit <a href="http://www.coal-gen.com/">www.coal-gen.com</a>. If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/07/the_devil_could_bei.html2013-07-01T14:55:00.000Z2013-07-01T14:56:36.924ZManaging Regulatory Mayhemnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray<p>Navigating the regulatory maze is a dangerous undertaking for power producers nowadays. Developing a sound, cost-effective strategy for compliance has been complicated by layers of new environmental rules and delays in implementation.</p> <p>One misstep can set a project back by years, costing power producers and their customers millions. New rules governing mercury emissions, cooling technology, wastewater treatment, coal ash management, regional haze, and greenhouse gas emissions pose a formidable challenge for utility executives and power plant managers. Some of these rules have been finalized while others are in the works.</p> <p>Successful compliance requires a carefully coordinated, catchall strategy that calls for a calculated integration of technologies. Balance is the goal.</p> <p>A comprehensive plan that achieves the new environmental standards and ensures reliable and affordable electricity is the end-game. But getting there will be different for every power producer and every plant.</p> <p>The maze of environmental rules is becoming more complicated to navigate. There are a number of new environmental rules awaiting final action or implementation. These rules, which will cost the industry billions in compliance costs, will dictate the future of power generation in the U.S. for decades to come. It is important these rules be as flexible as possible.</p> <p>The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to move forward on several rulemakings that are sure to have a significant impact on electric utilities. Here are three of those forthcoming rules.</p> <ol> <li>A final rule governing cooling water intake structures at existing power plants is expected to be issued this month. The rule, which targets plants using once-through cooling systems, would require many facilities to install closed-cycle cooling systems. Closed-cycle systems use less water from rivers and bays and harm fewer fish. Under the rule, plants that draw more than 2 million gallons a day and use at least 25 percent of that water for cooling are required to take action to protect the aquatic environment. More than 670 U.S. power plants will be affected by the new rule. The measure will require some power producers to modify cooling water intake structures or construct new cooling towers.</li> <li>The EPA is expected to issue a rule expanding the oversight of coal ash management and disposal at U.S. power plants. The rule would require coal-fired power plants to eliminate wet ash handling and phase out surface impoundments, or ponds, within five years. The rule was proposed after a 40-acre coal ash storage pond at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant in Harriman, Tenn., failed in 2008, spilling more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry. The big question is this: Will the EPA classify coal ash as a hazardous or non-hazardous waste?&nbsp; The difference is significant. A hazardous classification would cost power producers billions more in compliance costs.</li> <li>In April, the EPA proposed effluent limitation guidelines to reduce wastewater discharges from power plants. The rule is expected to be finalized by May 2014. The rule would be the first update of the effluent limitations guidelines since 1982. The EPA proposed the rule after the agency found that the increased use of air pollution controls was increasing pollution in wastewater discharges. The rule would reduce pollutants from the following wastewater streams: flue gas desulfurization, fly ash, bottom ash, flue gas mercury control, landfills and surface impoundments, nonchemical metal cleaning wastes, and fuel gasification.</li> </ol> <p>You may have noticed a commonality in all of these measures. All three rules call for significantly stricter standards for water usage in power plants. The transition in EPA’s focus is clear. After decades of advancing clean-air regulations, the agency is placing a higher priority on new water rules for power producers. At POWER-GEN International 2013 in Orlando, Fla., all of these rules and their impacts will be thoroughly examined by experts participating in several conference sessions. To register online, visit <a href="http://www.power-gen.com/">www.power-gen.com</a>.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/06/managing_regulatory.html2013-06-03T20:40:00.000Z2013-06-03T20:47:16.476ZCoal: An Important Optionnoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray<p>The outlook for coal-fired power production in the U.S. is not as ominous as most people think. Projections of the death of coal-fired power are based on hype from enthusiastic idealists and unwitting journalists caught in a popular campaign against coal. </p> <p>The transition to gas-fired generation will continue, which is a good thing. Increasing the use of this nation's large supply of shale gas will lead to fewer emissions, better efficiency and more diversity. </p> <p>But coal will continue to be the backbone&nbsp;of the nation's power sector because of its reliability and affordability. The natural gas industry, for a number of reasons, is not ready to take the lead in providing most of the nation's power supplies. Most power producers acknowledge this risk. There are too many questions about reserves, pipeline capacity and pricing. What's more, the increasing use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and the opportunity to sell U.S. gas supplies overseas at higher prices creates a large amount of risk, which means power producers will need significant coal capacity to mitigate that risk. After all, the nation's grid was built around coal, which makes coal largely more reliable than gas.</p> <p>Coal will remain the dominant source of power generation in the U.S. for the next 27 years, according to the Department of Energy's Annual Energy Outlook, which was released last month. Coal will account for 35 percent of the nation's power in 2040, down from 42 percent in 2011, the report showed. Gas will be used to produce 30 percent of the country's power supplies in 2040, up from 24 percent in 2011. The amount of power produced from renewable resources will grow from 13 percent in 2011 to just 16 percent in 2040. </p> <p>The lion's share of future demand will be met with what is&nbsp;left of the nation's existing fleet of coal-fired plants, upgraded at great cost with emission control technologies.</p> <p>But it's not enough. In the name of reliability and affordability, power producers should be given the option of building new generation fueled with coal.&nbsp;Right now, they don't have that option. It was eliminated under a new greenhouse gas&nbsp;rule that essentially bars the construction of a coal-fired plant in the U.S. It is one of the most ill-conceived rules ever proposed by the EPA.</p> <p>But the book on new emission standards for coal-fired plants is still being written. Just last month, the EPA delayed the release of its greenhouse gas standard for new plants. The agency said it needs more time to review more than 2 million comments on the rule. Industry&nbsp;observers say the delay means the agency may revamp the rule in a way that returns to power producers the option of constructing new generation fired by coal. </p> <p>Given that option, I believe U.S. power producers would bear the added cost&nbsp;of building a coal-fired&nbsp;power plant to mitigate the enormous risk and vulnerability posed by natural gas.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the market is telling us that coal should play a starring role in this nation's plan to meet demand with reliable and affordable energy. </p> <p>In March, the use of coal-fired generation was 21 percent higher than the same month last year. The use of gas-fired generation and renewable power fell 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively. </p> <p>Natural gas prices are rising much faster than coal prices, prompting power producers to use more coal to meet demand. Gas prices have risen 60 percent in the last year, while coal prices have increased just 2 percent during the same period. </p> <p>Giving power producers the option to pursue new coal projects by establishing a reasonable GHG limit for coal is a compromise that achieves the right balance between environmental concerns and economic concerns. Let's hope the EPA is&nbsp;listening. </p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at russellr@pennwell.com&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/05/coal_an_importanto.html2013-05-10T21:31:00.000Z2013-05-10T21:32:24.391ZRethinking the GHG Rulenoemail@noemail.orgRussell Ray<p>It’s one of the most legally vulnerable rules the Environmental Protection Agency has ever proposed.</p> <p>The proposed New Source Performance Standard, if enacted into law, would be the first-ever limit on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants. The measure would cap CO<sub>2</sub> emissions at 1,000 pounds per MWh for new power plants.</p> <p>If it survives, the measure’s impact will reach well beyond new plants and ripple into the heart of America’s power sector. Its passage would give the EPA a green light to pursue CO<sub>2</sub> limits for the nation’s existing fleet of power plants. By law, the EPA cannot finalize CO<sub>2</sub> standards for existing plants until it finalizes the proposed standard for new plants. One is inextricably tied to the other under the Clean Air Act.</p> <p>The fate of coal-fired generation, the most important segment of the U.S. power sector, is at stake.</p> <p>Ironically, the EPA may be forced to reduce the rule’s restrictions on new plants, if it wants to extend CO<sub>2</sub> limits to the nation’s fleet of existing plants.</p> <p>The rule, in its current form, would likely be tossed out by an appeals court because it fails to provide the flexibility proffered under the Clean Air Act. The rule establishes one standard that can be met by using one type of fuel – natural gas - and one type of generating technology – combined cycle. A coal plant would not be able to meet the proposed standard without installing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system, a risk that no utility is willing to take due to the cost, the liability and questions about CCS technology.</p> <p>The Clean Air Act allows the EPA to set separate standards for each fuel type – coal, oil and natural gas. What’s more, the law allows a separate standard based on the best emission reduction technology for each fuel type.</p> <p>These allowances are not found in the GHG rule for new plants. It’s also important to know the EPA has never set a single standard for all power plants based on an emissions limit that can be achieved by one fuel only and by one technology with the lowest emissions rate.</p> <p>The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) rule was finalized and enacted into law last year. During that process, EPA acknowledged that it would be wrong to base standards on the use of natural gas alone because those standards would not be technically or economically achievable for a coal-fired unit.</p> <p>The same approach should be used in setting CO<sub>2</sub> limits for new, modified and existing power plants in the U.S. A single standard that favors gas does not promote a competitive free market and threatens the power sector’s ability to establish a diverse, affordable and reliable energy mix.</p> <p>Setting a single CO<sub>2</sub> limit for all new power plants is like mandating a single fuel economy standard for all new cars and trucks. It’s irrational and irresponsible, and it would discourage investments in more efficient, cleaner-burning technologies for the nation’s abundant supply of coal.</p> <p>To withstand a legal challenge from coal-fired power producers, the EPA should rewrite or re-propose the GHG rule to accommodate coal and gas, as it has done in the past. The rule should include a lower standard for coal plants that can be met without adding carbon capture equipment, a costly and problematic technology.</p> <p>Dominion CEO Tom Farrell put it like this as he testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last year: “Standards can be set to reduce emissions and stimulate the deployment of advanced generating technologies without eliminating a major domestic fuel source.” &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/03/rethinkingtheghgrule.html2013-03-25T18:48:00.000Z2013-04-09T13:51:32.190ZGina McCarthy: A Contentious Picknoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>She’s a plain-spoken Bostonian who is popular with environmental groups and even some in the energy industry.</p> <p>She was one of our keynote speakers at COAL-GEN 2012 and she has won my begrudging admiration for her straight-talking discourse with the power generation industry.</p> <p>Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s clean-air boss since 2009, is his pick to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Her selection is by no means a prologue for diplomacy or compromise with the U.S. power sector. Her selection signifies a commitment to a calculated strategy to advance the administration’s War on Coal, a conflict borne from real rulemakings and real policies carried out by the EPA’s previous administrator, Lisa Jackson, who left the agency’s top post last month.</p> <p>The changing of the guard will have little effect on the EPA’s anti-coal agenda. McCarthy, a former state regulator from Connecticut and assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, has led the EPA’s efforts to impose a suite of new clean-air rules for U.S. power plants, including a greenhouse gas standard that effectively bars the construction of new, highly efficient coal-fired generation in the U.S.</p> <p>Given Obama’s State of the Union Address, where he pledged to make climate change a priority and threatened executive action in the absence of climate-change legislation, McCarthy’s selection shouldn’t be a surprise. She is a veteran regulator and a clean-air expert who has faced heated criticism from lawmakers and industry leaders for the agency’s tough new emission standards for mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, soot and other air pollutants.</p> <p>To her credit, McCarthy was instrumental in lowering the cost of complying with the Mercury Air and Toxics Standard, which was finalized and enacted into law last year. The final rule was more flexible than the initial proposal and required fewer plants to install costly emission control equipment.</p> <p>But her selection means the EPA will be working hard to finalize the first greenhouse gas standard for power plants, a standard that precludes the construction of new, cleaner-burning coal-fired plants and discourages investment in clean coal technologies. It also means the EPA will be expanding its anti-coal agenda by proposing a greenhouse gas standard that targets existing coal-fired power plants.&nbsp; </p> <p>McCarthy delivered a compelling speech at COAL-GEN last August in Louisville, Ky. As compelling as it was, her message was carefully crafted and failed to trump the chief criticisms of the EPA’s blitz of new emission standards, which fail to achieve balance between economic concerns and environmental concerns.</p> <p>Here are a couple of excerpts from McCarthy’s speech last August.</p> <p>McCarthy: “My job is primarily to implement the Clean Air Act. Our Clean Air Act is prescriptive, but it does allow flexibility. It looks at variability in technology and design. It is not a law that picks winners and losers.”</p> <p>Not exactly.</p> <p>In the battle between coal-fired and gas-fired generation, gas is clearly winning due partly to low-priced natural gas. But gas has received a lot of help from the EPA. Instead of embracing competition and technology to determine the winner, the EPA is picking the winner by managing the competitiveness of coal with new regulation that favors gas over coal. For example, the EPA’s New source Performance Standard (NSPS) would limit carbon dioxide emissions for new power plants to 1,000 pounds per MW. The average coal plant emits 1,768 pounds per MW. The average gas-fired plant emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per MW. The NSPS essentially requires all new power plants fueled with coal to install a carbon capture and storage system, a risk that no power producer is willing to take due to the cost, the liability and questions about the technology.&nbsp; </p> <p>McCarthy: “The Clean Air Act recognizes that coal is a significant and major source of electricity generation. We do not anticipate that the rules we have put into place or are proposing will do anything to change that fact. We believe that as a result of our rules, clean coal will have a place in the future.”</p> <p>This is disingenuous at best.</p> <p>The prospects and the economics of building a modern-day coal-fired power plant equipped with clean-coal technology in the U.S. have been severely damaged by the EPA’s proposed NSPS, which is expected to be finalized this year. Without it, the industry would undoubtedly be pursuing clean coal projects to mitigate the risk associated with the unruly price of natural gas. The Turk Power Plant, a 600-MW ultra-supercritical coal-fired plant completed last year in Arkansas, was the first of its kind in the U.S. and will more than likely be the last of its kind as a result of EPA’s proposal. &nbsp;</p> <p>McCarthy’s nomination will be met with fierce opposition from Republican Senators. Already, some groups are urging lawmakers to reject the nomination. She will face tough questions about allegations the EPA has exceeded its statutory authority and has collaborated with radical environmental groups to settle enforcement lawsuits.</p> <p>If McCarthy is confirmed, Obama will have a capable general to continue the administration’s assault on the nation’s most important segment of the power sector. If she is successful, it will further handicap the power sector’s effort to meet demand with this nation’s abundant supply of reliably-priced coal and make a mockery of Obama’s so-called “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/03/acontentiouspick.html2013-03-04T17:46:20.459Z2013-03-04T19:19:43.668ZA Backlog of New Projectsnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>Pulling the trigger is hard to do without a target. But coal-fired power producers in the U.S. now have something to shoot for.</p> <p>The release of new emission standards for mercury, acid gases, soot and other air pollutants have given power producers the certainty they need to move ahead with emission control projects in the U.S.</p> <p>The Mercury Air and Toxics Standard (MATS) was finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and enacted into law last year. The MATS rule could cost the industry as much as $10 billion to comply, the EPA estimates. What’s more, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter, or soot, was finalized by the EPA in December.</p> <p>Scores of new emission control projects are quickly moving forward in the U.S. and many more projects will be announced in the weeks and months to come. Confronted with an April 2015 deadline to comply with the MATS rule, power producers are facing a moment of truth. They must decide quickly whether to pursue a costly retrofit of their coal-fired units or shut them down. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Power producers have a wide range of technologies to choose from and a tight three-year window for compliance. Integrating these technologies with existing and new assets pose several operational, financial and regulatory challenges for the industry. Many of these projects will require a one-year extension. Some coal-fired units deemed critical to reliability may be granted a fifth year to comply.</p> <p>The MATS rule requires coal- and- oil-fired power plants to install maximum achievable control technologies such as flue gas desulfurization (FGD), baghouse filters, activated carbon injection (ACI), dry sorbent injection (DSI), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and electrostatic precipitators (ESP). &nbsp;In addition to mercury, the MATS rule also establishes limits on several hazardous air pollutants, including lead, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride and dioxins/furans.</p> <p>Given a possible one-year extension, power generators have until April 2015 to comply. Many coal-fired units will be retired because the returns from continuing operation fall well below the cost of compliance.</p> <p>According to Black &amp; Veatch, nearly 62 GW of coal-fired capacity, or 20 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power, will be retired by 2020 due to increased regulation and low natural gas prices. Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power announced Jan. 7 plans to retire 15 coal- and- oil-fired units with more than 2,000 MW of capacity because of new federal regulations, low gas prices and mild demand for electricity.&nbsp; More than 9,000 MW of coal-fired generation were retired in the U.S. in 2012. &nbsp;</p> <p>Meeting the April 2015 deadline should not be a problem for ACI and DSI projects, which take about a year to complete. However, the installation of FGD and SCR systems require more time, at least three to four years. That does not include the time it will take to secure regulatory approvals from state commissions. Delays could be significant as regulators consider a large number of projects at once.</p> <p>Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of U.S. coal-fired units are not equipped with modern emission controls, according to the EPA.</p> <p>According to a study commissioned by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), between 93 GW and 248 GW of coal-fired capacity will require an upgrade in pollution controls under the MATS rule. &nbsp;In the Midwest, between 51 GW and 58 GW of coal-fired capacity will require an upgrade.</p> <p>Long lead times pose a “substantial concern for any long-lead projects that are initiated late, both due to the timing constraint and due to the potential for difficulty in obtaining the necessary engineering and construction support during a period of very high demand,” the study indicated.</p> <p>The sharp increase in demand means power producers could face serious shortages in material and labor as the industry races to meet compliance standards and deadlines. American Electric Power plans to install or upgrade emission control systems on more than 13,000 MW of coal-fired capacity. Southern Co. has similar plans for about 12,000 MW of coal-fired generation.</p> <p>The Clyde Bergemann Power Group has secured contracts with Louisville Gas &amp; Electric, Kentucky Utilities Co., Southern Co. and the Orlando Utilities Commission to supply several coal-fired plants with fabric filters, ACI systems and DSI systems. Clyde Bergemann was recently awarded a $180 million contract to supply those technologies to four power stations owned and operated by LG&amp;E and KU. </p> <p>Under the contract, Clyde Bergemann will engineer, supply and commission up to 12 Pulse jet fabric filters for particulate control, 12 powder activated carbon Injection systems for mercury mitigation and six dry sorbent injection systems for sulfuric acid mist mitigation for 12 coal-fired boilers with a combined capacity of 5,000 MW.</p> <p>“We have somewhere between 15 and 20 projects currently contracted over the next two years,” said James Fisher, sales engineer at Clyde Bergemann Power Group. “We’re expecting that number to increase.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/02/abacklogofnewproject.html2013-02-25T22:19:27.626Z2013-02-26T22:47:38.553ZDuke Energy Executive to Speak at COAL-GEN 2013noemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>I’m very happy to announce that Keith Trent, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Regulated Utilities at Duke Energy, will participate in the keynote session at COAL-GEN 2013, Aug. 14-16, in Charlotte, N.C.</p> <p>Trent is responsible for rates and regulatory initiatives, state and local government relations, economic development, community affairs, integrated resource planning and wholesale power for the company's regulated utility operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. He is also responsible for federal government affairs, as well as environmental and energy policy at the state and federal levels.</p> <p>Trent has led the Commercial Business organization for Duke Energy, responsible for Duke Energy Generation Services; Duke Energy Renewables; Midwest Commercial Generation; Commercial Transmission; and Duke Energy International, with operations in Latin America. </p> <p>Trent joined Duke Energy in May 2002 as general counsel, litigation. He was named group vice president, general counsel and secretary in June 2005, and group executive and chief development officer in April 2006.</p> <p>The keynote session runs from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 14. </p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, please contact me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a> &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/02/dukeenergyexecutivet.html2013-02-18T21:40:34.661Z2013-02-18T21:42:07.523ZCOAL-GEN 2013: Staying Competitive and Compliantnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>Coal remains the most important segment of the U.S. power sector. As coal-fired power producers work to upgrade their units with control technologies mandated by the federal government, the need for cost-effective solutions is paramount. Meanwhile, new standards for coal ash management and cooling methods are on the horizon. </p> <p>As a result, coal-fired generators are crafting strategies to remain competitive, stay compliant and limit costs.</p> <p>What solutions are available for lowering emissions? What are the best options for handling coal ash and controlling coal dust? What about the future of CCS? What’s next from the EPA? What should you know about stricter water discharge limits? Can coal plants be more flexible? Are there ways to improve the economics and availability of coal-fired generation?</p> <p>We will be exploring the answers to these questions and more at COAL-GEN 2013, Aug. 14-16, in Charlotte, N.C. I invite you to join me – along with hundreds of industry professionals – for a week of thought-provoking discussions, workshops, technical tours and a large exhibition of products and services designed to help coal-fired power producers achieve their goals. </p> <p>For me, this will be a week of celebration. We will be recognizing this great industry for its achievements and its undeniable contributions to a safe and reliable grid. Coal-fired generation in the U.S. is amid the biggest makeover in this industry’s history. The owners and operators of coal-fired power plants are looking for cost-effective solutions to comply with a suite of new environmental rules. While some coal plants will be shuttered, a large number of power producers are sticking with coal as the market becomes increasingly dependent on the unruly price of natural gas. </p> <p>The vast majority of today’s coal-fired generation will survive the onslaught of costly environmental rules and will be a part of the U.S. energy mix for decades to come.&nbsp; </p> <p>For all of these reasons, COAL-GEN has never been more relevant!</p> <p>We have expanded the conference program. This year, COAL-GEN will feature 24 conference sessions and more than 90 speakers. In addition, more than 250 companies will be showcasing their products and services on the exhibit floor. </p> <p>Please join us Aug. 14-16, at COAL-GEN 2013. See you in Charlotte.</p> <p>If you have a question or a comment, contact me at russellr@pennwell.com. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/02/coalgen2013stayingco.html2013-02-15T17:34:13.434Z2013-02-15T17:36:34.618ZSqueezing More Power from Hydropower Plantsnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>At some point, that car you’re driving will need a little restoration work.</p> <p>After some machining work and a few replacement parts, it will run a little smoother, get better gas mileage and go from a rumble to a purr. With the right retooling and equipment, you’ll get a lot more miles and production out of it.</p> <p>With greater significance, the same is true for hydropower plants.</p> <p>Many of the hydropower plants in North America are more than 50 years old and are in need of rehabilitation. They represent a phenomenal opportunity to increase the production of renewable energy amid deep concern about climate change.</p> <p>Consider this: A simple rehabilitation can increase a hydropower plant’s power output by as much as a third. Adding modern hydraulics, new runners, new wicket gates and modifying the draft tube can add a significant amount of clean power to the grid.</p> <p>There are about 2,400 hydropower plants in the U.S. Upgrading those plants with modern technologies could add a significant amount of hydropower capacity to the nation’s power portfolio without building a single dam.</p> <p>In the March issue of <i>Power Engineering</i> magazine, we profile three innovative hydropower rehabilitation projects in the U.S. The Cheoah, Webbers Falls and Badger Hydro projects will be producing significantly more power by simply replacing worn equipment with 21<sup>st</sup> Century technology.</p> <p>It’s part of a special section on hydropower, which will include a report on the state of the hydropower industry by Linda Church-Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association.</p> <p>Have a question or a comment? You can reach me at <a href="mailto:russellr@pennwell.com">russellr@pennwell.com</a> &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/02/squeezingmorepowerfr.html2013-02-08T22:05:57.540Z2013-02-08T22:08:09.798ZThe Truth about Shale Gasnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>I’m a skeptic, and for good reason.</p> <p>After years of reporting and writing about the oil, gas and power generation markets, I’ve learned that long-term forecasts on pricing and supply almost never come to pass. Predicting the price of oil or gas is like playing golf on a putting green covered in ice. Your line could be perfectly straight, but you'll miss the target most of the time.</p> <p>To get a better gauge on pricing and supply, you must read between the lines and consider the real-world forces so often ignored by forecasts from the Energy Information Administration and the prejudicial energy companies bent on bolstering their own stock prices.</p> <p>When the EIA tells us we have a 100-year supply of cheap natural gas and the mainstream press and politicians start treating it like gospel, it should be a sign to jump off the bandwagon and start digging deeper. &nbsp;It reminds me of the company that booked billions in false profits based on long-term contracts. The company’s stock price soared, but investors ultimately lost billions. What was the name of that company? Oh, Enron. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Most have blindly embraced the EIA’s lavish estimates on the recoverable supply of shale gas in the U.S.</p> <p>The mainstream media, environmental groups, self-promoting energy companies and enterprising consultants have wittingly or unwittingly promoted the EIA’s conclusion that natural gas will be cheap and abundant for decades to come.</p> <p>A few people immediately questioned the EIA’s generous projections and have unearthed what I think is the truth about this nation’s supply of shale gas.</p> <p>Bill Powers’ new book, “Cold, Hungry and in the Dark: Exploding the Natural Gas Supply Myth,” claims the estimates from the EIA are overstated and over-hyped. He uses hard evidence to show that the production life of shale gas wells will fall well short of the EIA’s expectations. They already have.&nbsp; Shale gas production in the Barnett, Fayetteville, Haynesville and Woodford shale plays is well below EIA’s estimates, Powers said in an interview with <i>The Energy Report</i>.</p> <p>“As these shale plays reverse direction and the Marcellus Shale slows down its production growth, overall U.S. production will fall,” Powers said. &nbsp;</p> <p>Politicians, analysts and policymakers often point to the nation’s 100-year supply of natural gas to advance their own interests. Geological consultant Arthur Berman, who writes the foreword in Powers’ book, says the U.S. has enough gas for 22 years, less than a quarter of the 100-year supply projected by the EIA .</p> <p>Canadian researcher David Hughes is another skeptic who believes the oil and gas industry has grossly overstated the potential of shale gas reserves. Speaking to attendees at COAL-GEN 2012, Hughes said meeting the EIA’s projections for gas production will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.</p> <p>“Almost all of the eggs are in the shale gas basket as a hope of meeting supply growth projections for gas,” Hughes said. “There are very significant geological, environmental and economic challenges in continuing to grow shale gas supplies. I expect significantly higher gas prices going forward over the short to medium term.”</p> <p>Hughes, president of Global Sustainability Research and former research manager for the Geological Survey of Canada, said the EIA underestimated the number of new wells required to meet its production estimates.</p> <p>“I think they’re going to have to do a lot more drilling to keep production rising,” Hughes said. “Shale gas wells are more productive than the average gas well, but they decline more quickly.”</p> <p>Powers, Hughes and others, including myself, believe the stage is set for much higher gas prices.</p> <p>The natural gas market remains volatile because of the way the commodity is traded. The growth of speculative hedge funds, energy traders and automatic trades can cause a lot of volatility. More traders, with no official connection to the producer or consumer, are buying gas and immediately selling it at a profit. A large number of gas transactions are made by outfits that have no interest in taking possession of natural gas.</p> <p>The power sector is becoming increasingly reliant on natural gas to generate electricity. There’s nothing wrong with that. The use of this nation’s large supply of shale gas will lead to fewer emissions, better efficiency and more diversity.</p> <p>The problem is, we have a policy that prevents the industry from preparing for the day when gas prices spike and supplies shrink. Building a low-cost, low emission and highly efficient coal-fired plant is no longer an option in the U.S. under new federal rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.</p> <p>Removing that option will one day endanger the affordability and reliability of electricity in the U.S.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/02/thetruthaboutshalega.html2013-02-01T23:20:41.029Z2013-02-01T23:22:08.486ZCoal Ash Rule Forthcomingnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>Four years after more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry spilled from a storage pond at the Kingston Power Plant in eastern Tennessee, environmental groups are still waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize tougher standards for handling and storing coal ash. </p> <p>Their wait may soon be over. </p> <p>Industry observers expect the EPA to issue a rule this year, expanding the oversight of bottom ash management and disposal at U.S. power plants.</p> <p>The proposed rules would require coal-fired power plants to eliminate wet ash handling and phase out surface impoundments, or ponds, within five years. Anticipating tougher standards, most power producers have already studied the cost of converting to dry bottom ash systems and are bracing for the regulatory changes. The cost of compliance could exceed $20 billion industrywide, according to a 2010 EPA study.</p> <p>“The overwhelming majority of utilities have done some level of technology investigation and definitely a budget study,” said Kevin McDonough, director of sales Americas for United Conveyor Corp. “Almost all of them have gone that far, so that they understand what technical options are out there and, of course, the approximate cost associated with it.” </p> <p>The potential market for dry bottom ash conversions is significant. Less than 1 percent of the nation’s coal-fired plants are equipped with dry bottom ash systems, said Ron Grabowski, vice president of Business Development at Clyde Bergemann. More than 90 percent of bottom ash systems remain wet.</p> <p>“You’re going to have to be a zero discharge plant,” Grabowski said. “If you’re using water to move around your bottom ash, you can’t discharge it.”</p> <p>In 2010, the EPA offered two proposals to regulate the handling and disposal of coal ash. The first option calls for classifying coal ash as a special waste regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C hazardous waste provisions. Under the second option, coal ash disposal would be regulated under RCRA’s Subtitle D nonhazardous waste provisions.</p> <p>In either case, wet ash handling would be eliminated and surface impoundments would be phased out within five years.</p> <p>“We don’t think they’re going to reclassify bottom ash to be a hazardous material,” Grabowski said. “I think they recognize there are beneficial uses as a byproduct. They want to persuade plants to eliminate the discharge of water.”</p> <p>In December 2008, a 40-acre coal ash storage pond at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant in Harriman, Tenn., failed. The earthen wall collapsed, spilling more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry, damaging 40 homes and contaminating the Emory and Clinch Rivers. The cleanup costs for TVA: About $1 billion.</p> <p>The incident prompted the EPA to pursue a new rulemaking, but the agency delayed issuing a final rule after intense political pressure from utilities, coal-mining companies and coal ash recyclers who fear classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste would stigmatize their products.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Congress has proposed legislation that would pre-empt EPA’s proposed rules by granting states the authority to regulate coal ash disposal through the use of permitting programs. Critics say the legislation would keep states in control and stymie the EPA’s effort to promulgate new rules for the disposal of coal ash, also known as coal combustion residuals (CCR).</p> <p>According to a report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the legislation provides states too much discretion in adopting a permit program or applying federal standards for disposal of coal ash.</p> <p>“EPA would have no authority to compel states to adopt and implement the program according to provisions in the proposed amendments to RCRA,” the report found. </p> <p>Coal-fired power plants have three options for the disposal of coal ash. Dry ash can be disposed in landfills. According to the EPA, more than 30 percent of coal combustion waste from power plants is disposed in dry landfills. Coal ash is, of course, stored in ponds, which account for 20 percent of coal ash disposal. About 40 percent of coal ash is recycled and used in a wide range of industrial applications.</p> <p>More than 300 coal-fired plants in the U.S. dispose coal ash in on-site landfills, according to an EPA report. Nearly 150 plants use off-site commercial landfills for coal ash disposal. Nearly 160 U.S. plants use coal ash ponds for disposal.</p> <p>The size of coal ash disposal units can range from modest to very large, with some ponds covering 1,500 acres or more. </p> <p>Meanwhile, power producers using ponds to store coal ash have important choices to make. They have several options and solutions to choose from as they prepare to comply with stricter federal regulation. Those options include submerged flight conveyor (SFC) systems, continuous dewatering and recirculation systems (CDR), pneumatic conveying (PAX) systems, and vibrating ash conveying (VAX) systems.</p> <p>To learn more about dry ash handling options available to power producers, be sure to read the February issue of <i>Power Engineering </i>magazine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/01/coalashruleforthcomi.html2013-01-25T20:37:38.936Z2013-01-25T20:39:51.478ZDemand Response: Embrace It or Get Run Overnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, delivered a powerful message to some 3,000 people attending the keynote session last month at POWER-GEN International in Orlando, Fla.</p> <p>His message to the nation’s power sector was essentially a warning for power generators to adapt to a world of greater efficiency and meager consumption growth.</p> <p>The growth rate for U.S. electricity consumption has plunged from about 5 percent a year in the 1970s to about 1 percent a year today.</p> <p>“It’s a low level of growth that utilities in this country aren’t used to,” Wellinghoff said. “They’re used to making money on additional sales. If they don’t see additional sales, it’s going to be very difficult for them to continue.”</p> <p>Computers, televisions, refrigerators and other household technologies are being designed to use significantly less power and can be controlled with your smart phone or by the system operator. “A desktop computer uses about $25 worth of energy a year,” he said. “My iPad uses $2.50 worth of energy a year. So we’re seeing a distinct trend in energy, and this is backed up with data.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, new rules from FERC will allow these efficiencies to be built, or bid, into the grid at the wholesale level, Wellinghoff said.</p> <p>He’s talking about the benefits of “demand response,” which is the business of enabling end-use customers to reduce consumption during times of peak demand. Demand response programs allow the end-user to compete against generators and receive a payment for reducing consumption. Instead of adding more generation to the system, capacity is created by curbing consumption through the use of smart grid technologies on both sides of the meter.</p> <p>Right now, most demand response programs target large commercial and industrial customers. But the opportunity to participate in demand response programs will eventually be offered to homes and small businesses as more utilities implement advanced metering.</p> <p>“Ultimately, we’ll be able to bid this into grids everywhere once we have organized markets everywhere,” Wellinghoff said. “We don’t have organized markets in the Southeast or in most of the West, with the exception of California.”</p> <p>Demand response programs represent a resource that can be dispatched and relied on just like a conventional power plant. And like a generator, demand response providers are paid for the capacity they create.</p> <p>“We can reduce our peak loads in this country by 20 percent using demand response – using assets on the customer’s side of the meter that can be put in place to control loads and reduce costs,” Wellinghoff said. “It’s happening and it’s coming very quickly.”</p> <p>But it’s a trend that will cut into the revenues of power producers, Wellinghoff said.</p> <p>“It’s going to be very disruptive for generators who are used to receiving these payments that are no longer going to receive them,” he said.</p> <p>New advancements in Demand Response technologies and programs will be thoroughly discussed by leading experts during several conference sessions at POWER-GEN International 2013, scheduled Nov. 12-14, in Orlando, Fla.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We have to embrace these trends,” Wellinghoff said. “If we don’t, they’re going to run over us.”&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2013/01/DemandResponseEmbrac.html2013-01-07T21:50:30.203Z2013-01-07T21:58:50.383ZThe War on Coal - Round 2noemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>During his first four-year term, President Barack Obama’s policies compelled power producers to plan the retirement of 15 percent of the nation’s coal-fired generation capacity and killed the scope for building new capacity fired by coal.</p> <p>What does a second term mean for the most important segment of the U.S. power sector?</p> <p>It means regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency will get their chance to follow through on new regulations that stifle coal and give power producers fewer options to meet demand with affordable electricity.</p> <p>It means an army of EPA staff will be unleashed to quickly finalize the first greenhouse gas standard for power plants, a standard that precludes the construction of new, cleaner-burning coal-fired plants and discourages investment in clean-coal technologies.</p> <p>It means the Obama-run EPA will be expanding its anti-coal agenda by proposing a greenhouse gas standard that targets existing coal-fired generation. It means ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants – a low cost, low emission and highly efficient source of power – won’t be given a role in meeting demand and maintaining reliability.</p> <p>According to one study, it means compliance costs will exceed $200 billion and consumers will pay up to $67 billion more for electricity.</p> <p>Obama’s plan to discourage new coal-fired generation and phase out existing coal plants is as irresponsible as Germany’s decision to exit nuclear power. It is a dangerous plan that relies on cheap natural gas and intermittent sources of expensive renewable power.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The EPA’s New Source Performance Standard would limit CO2 emissions from new power plants to 1,000 pounds per MW. The average coal plant emits 1,768 pounds per MW. The average gas-fired plant emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per MW. The NSPS essentially requires all new power plants fueled with coal to install a carbon capture and storage system, a risk that no utility is willing to take due to the cost, the liability and questions about the technology.</p> <p>“I think the EPA will be finalizing an NSPS for new power plants, probably by the end of this year,” said Todd Palmer, an environmental lawyer with Michael Best &amp; Friedrick LLP. “I think the NSPS proposal is quite deliberate in attempting to phase out coal on new assets and to improve overall efficiency.”</p> <p>Given another four years under Obama, the EPA is expected to extend limits on greenhouse gas emissions to the nation’s existing fleet of coal-fired power plants.</p> <p>Once pollution control upgrades are made to existing coal units, the big fear is that these units will be declared by the EPA as a “new source” of CO2 emissions and thus required to comply with a new carbon standard.</p> <p>“I do expect that during the second term, we will see a new NSPS standard for existing power plants that will focus on GHG emissions,” Palmer said. “There really is a deliberate policy at work here to develop regulations that discourage new coal and phase out existing coal.”</p> <p>Achieving balance between economic concerns and environmental concerns should be the hallmark of all energy policy. In this respect, Obama’s power generation policies fail.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the gap between gas prices and coal prices is widening. As a result, power generators are beginning to turn back to coal. The price of gas used to generate power will be about 22 percent higher in 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration. The average price of coal will rise just 1 percent next year.</p> <p>This means total U.S. generation fueled with coal will rise from 37 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2013, according to EIA’s forecast. The amount of power fired by gas will drop from 30 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2013.</p> <p>The market is telling us that coal should play a starring role in this nation’s plan to meet the growing thirst for electricity. Without it, consumer costs will soar, reliability will suffer and jobs will be lost.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The EPA is fully engaged in its war on coal. Dig in. It’s going to be a long four years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2012/11/TheWaronCoalRound2.html2012-11-09T21:03:37.099Z2012-11-09T21:14:07.474ZPOWER-GEN International: Back in Orlando!noemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>It’s the largest annual forum for the power generation industry.</p> <p>More than 20,000 industry professionals from around the world will gather in Orlando for POWER-GEN International, where innovative and cost-effective solutions for maintaining, operating and building new power generation will be shared Dec. 11-13 at the Orange County Convention Center.</p> <p>More than 1,200 exhibiting companies from every sector of the industry will be showcasing their services and products on the exhibit floor. The exhibition opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday following the keynote session.</p> <p>POWER-GEN International offers a wealth of networking opportunities with leading professionals and key decision makers. More than 200 speakers will share their thoughts on trends, technology and project development in 36 conference sessions and four mega-sessions.&nbsp; A wide range of topics, from emissions control to gas turbine design, will be discussed by high-ranking regulators, developers, power producers and industry representatives.</p> <p>The keynote session on Dec. 11 will feature high-ranking executives, including Paul Browning, president and CEO of Thermal Products for GE Power &amp; Water, Jim Ferland, president and CEO of Babcock &amp; Wilcox, Gordon Gillette, President of Tampa Electric, and Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Plenary Session on Dec. 13 will be a rapid-fire, content-rich discussion featuring Joe Nipper, senior vice president of government relations for the American Public Power Association, James Fama, vice president of Energy Delivery for the Edison Electric Institute, and Bryan Hannegan, vice president of Environment and Renewables for the Electric Power Research Institute.</p> <p>This year, POWER-GEN will come to Orlando with three co-located events: Nuclear Power International, the POWER-GEN International Financial Forum, and Renewable Energy World Conference &amp; Expo. The week of Dec. 10<sup>th</sup> will feature four conferences and three exhibitions under one roof.</p> <p><b>FINANCIAL FORUM</b></p> <p>The Financial Forum, scheduled Dec. 12-13, features seven conference sessions, including a plenary session entitled “Project Financing: The Big Picture.” The keynote address will be delivered by Richard Kauffman, senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Kauffman serves as chief executive officer of Good Energies Inc., a leading investor in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Kauffman also was a partner at Goldman Sachs, where he served on several committees. &nbsp;The keynote luncheon begins at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12.</p> <p>Financial Forum panelists will explore the financing options and strategies that work best in today’s market. They will also discuss liquidity issues, risk and return expectations, new development possibilities, and the financial and regulatory barriers to overcome in today’s tight financial market. Are there emerging new sources of financing for energy projects? What are the risks associated with certain technologies and what risks worry lenders the most? Panelists will attempt to answer these and many other questions over the course of this conference.</p> <p>The Financial Forum offers a unique opportunity for project developers, lenders and others in the financial community to learn about and discuss the latest financing trends. What’s more, the Financial Forum gives financial specialists a chance to meet with the world’s leading engineering, procurement and construction firms as well as hundreds of equipment and service vendors. &nbsp;</p> <p><b>TECHNICAL TOURS</b></p> <p>Technical tours of three power generation facilities will be offered to attendees on Monday, Dec. 10<sup>th</sup>.</p> <p>Tampa Electric will be hosting a tour of the Polk Power Station, a 260-MW integrated coal gasification combined-cycle power plant in central Florida. The facility is a first-of-its-kind combination of two leading technologies, coal gasification and combined-cycle. The plant combines coal with oxygen in the gasifier to produce the gaseous fuel. After processing, the clean coal gas is used in the combustion turbine to produce electricity. Combined-cycle technology increases efficiency because it reuses exhaust heat to produce more electricity.<br> <br> Combined-cycle design consists of a combustion turbine, a heat recovery steam generator and a steam turbine. The exhaust heat from the combustion turbine is recovered in the heat recovery steam generator to produce steam. This steam then passes through a steam turbine to produce more electricity.<br> <br> The plant is considered “zero process water discharge.” A brine concentration unit, which produces an effluent that is reused in the process, handles all of the liquid waste. The combined-cycle technology requires much less cooling water than conventional technology, and Tampa Electric was able to modify existing conventional “mine cuts” to become the plant’s cooling reservoir.</p> <p>A tour of the Cane Island Power Park is also available to attendees.</p> <p>The gas-fired power plant is near Intercession City in northwest Osceola County, Fla. It houses four generating units with a combined capacity of 735 MW.</p> <p>Unit 1 is a General Electric LM6000 PA aero-derivative simple cycle combustion turbine that is primarily used for peaking. Unit 2 is a GE Frame MS7001EA in combined cycle with a Nooter Erikson triple pressure HRSG that provides steam for a GE Fitchburg axial exhaust straight condensing turbine. Unit 3 is a GE 7241FA+e in combined cycle with a Aalborg triple pressure reheat HRSG that provides steam for a GE A10 reheat steam turbine. Unit 3 was the first combined cycle in Florida to install a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system. Unit 4 consists of a GE 7241FA+e in combined cycle with a Vogt triple pressure HRSG that provides steam for a GE A14 reheat steam turbine. Including duct firing capability, this unit will produce 300 MW.</p> <p>Attendees won’t have to travel far to tour the largest rooftop solar array in the southeastern U.S.</p> <p>The 1.1 MW photovoltaic array is on the roof of the North-South Building of the Orange County Convention Center and covers an area equivalent to five football fields. It was designed and installed by Johnson Controls.</p> <p>Costing more than $8 million and taking several years to construct, the project feature 5,808 solar panels. The project began commercial production in February 2010. The tour will begin at the Climate Change Education Center. Attendees will then take the freight elevators to the HVAC Penthouse level, where they will view and learn about the inverters and other components necessary to run the solar array. Finally, they will step out onto the roof to take a closer look at the array and ask questions about the project.</p> <p><b>PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS</b></p> <p>Attendees of POWER-GEN and Nuclear Power International can also choose from 23 Competitive Power College pre-conference workshops on Sunday Dec. 9 and Monday Dec. 10.</p> <p>Some of the workshop topics include “Turbine Generator Failures: Prediction and Prevention,” “Power Plant Construction Management: A Workshop for Survival,” “Addressing Material Flow Problems in Bunkers, Feeders and Chutes,” “Fast-Tracking Environmental Permitting for Energy Projects,” “Gas Turbine Combustion: Emissions, Operability and Combustion Dynamics,” “Basic Gas Turbine Metallurgy and Component Repair,” and “Safe Bolting: Lessons in Tower Erection and Turbine Assembly.”</p> <p><b>OTHER CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS</b></p> <p>More than 30 conference sessions will be held under seven tracks: Emissions Control, On-Site Power, Plant Performance, Gas Turbine Technologies, Fossil Technologies, Environmental Issues, and Industry Trends/Competitive Power Generation.</p> <p>Here’s a sample of some of the sessions that will be offered: “Gas Turbine Updates and Performance Improvements,” “Capitalizing on Natural Gas Power Generation,” “Gas Turbine Construction Trends and Requirements,” “Hg Control Technologies for Coal-Fired Power Plants,” “Particulates and the Importance of Multi-Pollutant Control,” “Rapid Response Combined Cycle Power Plants,” “Clean Water Act 316(b) Compliance,” “Flexible Capacity Options for Renewable Integration,” and “Steam Turbine Reliability, Availability and Efficiency.”</p> <p>Three mega-sessions are also scheduled. Those sessions are:&nbsp; “Large Frame Gas Turbines,” “Coal Plant Retirements: Challenges and Opportunities,” and “The Economy: Where is it Headed?”</p> <p>A car will again be given away this year. The drawing for a 2012 Corvette will be Thursday, Dec. 13.</p> <p>Entering is easy. Eligible attendees must take their entry card to the booths of the sponsoring companies, have it stamped by the sponsoring exhibitors and return the card to the PennWell booth prior to the drawing. As always, you must be present to win. &nbsp;</p> <p>Also, a golf tournament will be held Monday, Dec. 10, at Osprey Ridge Golf Course.&nbsp; </p> <p>This sweeping 18-hole course is arguably one of the most tranquil locales in all of Walt Disney World<sup> </sup>Resort. It boasts 7,101 yards from the longest tees for a par of 72—making Disney’s Osprey Ridge suitable for serious and recreational golfers who seek a challenge.</p> <p>Visit <a href="http://www.power-gen.com/">www.power-gen.com</a> for complete conference, exhibition and registration information. See you in Orlando!&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2012/10/POWERGENInternationa.html2012-10-15T21:29:17.241Z2012-10-15T21:31:26.184ZBoiler MACT Rule Still on Holdnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>U.S. boiler manufacturers and operators have been waiting nearly a decade for the federal government to give the industry clear guidance on what they must do to meet stricter emission standards for toxic air pollutants.</p> <p>It appears the wait will continue.</p> <p>The industry was expecting the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule in late June. Industry officials now say the new standards probably won’t be unveiled until November or December. The EPA’s revised Boiler MACT rule remains under review by the Office of Budget Management’s regulatory affairs division. A final rule won’t be issued until OBM officials complete their review.</p> <p>In a recent letter to President Obama, Randy Rawson, president and CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, urged the administration to release the finalized rule back to the EPA for publication in the Federal Register. Rawson attributed the delay to “White House political concerns over the ‘job killer’ label disingenuously attached to the rules by opposition special interests and their Congressional followers.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Further delay will only jeopardize timely compliance and increase costs, Rawson wrote. U.S. boiler manufacturers have long been ready to help boiler operators and owners affected by the rule comply in a timely and affordable manner, Rawson said.</p> <p>“Once it does hit the street, they’re going to be looking for answers,” Rawson said during ABMA’s summer meeting in June. “From what we hear, they’re already looking for answers because they know that ultimately it will become reality.”</p> <p>The final rule will almost certainly be challenged in court by certain subsets of regulated entities, Rawson wrote. However, that shouldn’t be used as a reason to suspend “the mission to generate new, meaningful engineering, skilled and unskilled jobs and a healthier environment… We can only hope that OMB is doing more toward achieving compromise and consensus than just sitting on its hands for political purposes.” &nbsp;</p> <p>The rule establishes National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for industrial, commercial and Institutional boilers. It will require the owners and operators to install Maximum Achievable Control Technologies such as scrubbers and activated-carbon-sorbent injection systems. The rule establishes stricter limits on the following hazardous air pollutants (HAPs): Mercury, particulate matter, hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide.</p> <p>The rule applies to major sources of HAPs. That means any stationary source that can potentially emit 10 or more tons a year of any single pollutant or 25 tons or more a year of any combination of pollutants must comply with the rule. The emission limits apply only to the boiler or process heaters of a major source of HAPs.</p> <p>For major sources of HAPs, new and existing gas-fired boilers will be required to meet new work practice standards and perform an annual boiler tune-up. New and existing boilers with a heat input capacity of less than 10 MMBtu per hour will be subject to a work practice standard and required to perform a biennial boiler tune-up. All other new and existing boiler and process heaters will be required to meet new emission limits and perform compliance monitoring.</p> <p>Under the rule, Large, existing coal-fired boilers must meet mercury, carbon monoxide and particulate emission limits.</p> <p>The Boiler MACT rule was finalized in May 2011, but the EPA quickly delayed implementation and began reconsidering the rule after boiler owners denounced it, claiming the provisions were excessive, impractical and too costly. The EPA issued a revised rule in December 2011 that was more flexible and 50 percent less costly. The revised measure was on course to being finalized this spring.</p> <p>But in January 2012, a federal judge negated the EPA’s “stay” of the original rule, stating the agency’s decision to delay implementation was “arbitrary and capricious.” Environmental groups challenged the stay in a petition to the appellate court. The judge’s ruling reinstated the provision of the original Boiler MACT rule that was swiftly denounced by boiler owners back in May 2011.</p> <p>Despite the Judge’s ruling, the EPA continued to finalize the revised rule. The revised rules are “technically achievable by real-world boilers,” ABMA has said.</p> <p>The revised rule is expected to be finalized by the end of this year. Boiler owners and operators will have three years to comply once the final rule is published in the Federal Register.</p> <p>“EPA has had these rules under development, analysis, debate, judicial and public review, in one form or another, for nearly a decade,” Rawson stated in his letter to President Obama. “They are not unexpected, they are not overly complicated and although each compliance situation is unique, the technical know-how exists to overcome almost every compliance challenge.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2012/10/BoilerMACTRuleStillo.html2012-10-04T16:40:31.096Z2012-10-04T16:42:48.874ZMATS: A Grand Deceptionnoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>The most deliberated clean-air rule in U.S. history is also the most misleading.</p> <p>The Mercury Air and Toxics Standards, which will cost U.S. power producers nearly $10 billion a year and force the retirement of thousands of megawatts of reliable coal-fired generation, is based on bad science, unachievable standards and exaggerated health benefits of limiting mercury.</p> <p>Facing several legal challenges in a federal appeals court, the truth about the new law is finally resonating.</p> <p>The Environmental Protection Agency, in response to an expedited review of the case, gave in and granted petitions to reconsider the rule’s emission standards for new projects. By deciding to rework the rule, the EPA is acknowledging that the new-source standards are fundamentally flawed and unachievable. The standards are so low that they can’t be measured using today’s pollution control equipment, thus compliance can’t be guaranteed.&nbsp; </p> <p>The revised rule is expected to be issued by March.</p> <p>Meanwhile, regulatory and environmental experts have exposed the rule’s other shortcomings. Their analyses offer persuasive evidence that the rule is based on exaggerated health risks, misleading information and a bias against coal.</p> <p>The EPA claims the rule would increase the average IQ of children exposed prenatally to mercury by .002 points, or 511 points nationwide. But the improvement, in addition to being insignificant, is based on flawed modeling, according to a study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Marlo Lewis, one of the study’s authors, summarized the study in an op-ed piece he wrote for Forbes.</p> <p>The EPA assumed that prenatal mercury exposure exceeding the reference dose of 5.8 parts per billion decreases a child’s IQ, Lewis wrote. However, the reference dose used by the EPA was well below the exposure level (58 ppb) associated with any health effects.&nbsp; In fact, the highest exposure level measured in a pregnant woman is 21 ppb, 3.7 times higher than the reference dose and well below the benchmark dose of 58 ppb, Lewis explained.</p> <p>If that’s true, the MATS rule will have no effect on the IQ of children exposed to mercury in the womb.</p> <p>What’s more, the rulemaking estimated that mercury emissions from power plants in the U.S. would rise from 46 tons in 1990 to 60 tons a year in 2010. Either the EPA failed to update its data or it ignored the actual results. In fact, mercury emissions from power plants totaled 48 tons in 2010 and 29 tons in 2011, well below the estimate provided by the EPA.&nbsp; </p> <p>The deception doesn’t stop there.</p> <p>The rulemaking grossly overestimates other health benefits of limiting mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The EPA claims the MATS rule will prevent 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,000 heart attacks and up to 11,000 premature deaths a year. The EPA priced the value of those benefits at about $90 billion a year, well above the industry’s cost to comply, which is $9.6 billion a year.&nbsp; </p> <p>However, a closer look reveals that nearly all of the health benefits stem from the control of particulate matter, not mercury. Emissions of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, are already regulated under the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard. PM2.5 pollution is a particle of soot 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller.</p> <p>“Ninety-nine percent of the benefits attributed to the MATS rule are derived by assigning high dollar values to reductions in emissions of fine particles, which are not the focus of this regulation and which are regulated elsewhere,” Susan Dudley, director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, said during testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.</p> <p>Under NAAQS, PM2.5 emissions are already set at a level “requisite to protect public health.”</p> <p>“If that’s the case, are we really getting the health benefits that we think that we’re going to get?” said Chris Hobson, senior vice president of Research and Environmental Affairs for Southern Co., which owns and operates about 20,000 MW of coal-fired generation in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi.</p> <p>When you calculate the benefits of the rule’s mercury/HAPs reductions by themselves, a much different picture emerges. Those reductions would generate between $500,000 and $6 million in health benefits each year, the EPA estimates. The compliance cost of $9.6 billion a year would thus exceed the health benefits by “1,600 to one or even 19,200 to one,” Lewis wrote.</p> <p>If the MATS rule survives, it will do more harm than good.</p> <p>As Dudley put it in her testimony to Congress, “The estimated $9.6 billion per year in costs will be borne by all Americans, who will pay more for electricity and anything that uses it. Not only will the rule increase the cost of heating, air conditioning, food, and other goods and services that contribute to public health, but it will divert scarce resources from much more pressing problems and activities that could contribute to improved health and economic well-being.”</p> <p>The rule’s massive cost, tight compliance schedule and demands on labor and equipment could create widespread outages as utilities take hundreds of coal-fired units offline to install new controls. Hundreds more will be retired. Without a major overhaul, the rule will threaten the reliability of a grid that was built around coal. The court should overturn the rule, if not for its exaggerated claims, then to preserve public health and safety.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2012/09/MATSAGrandDeception.html2012-09-28T14:06:18.974Z2012-09-28T14:08:14.943ZCSAPR's Demise: The Big Picturenoemail@noemail.orgRussellR<p>It was not a unanimous decision, but it was the correct decision.</p> <p>Last month, an appeals court struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule, a costly and unreasonable measure designed to cut NOx and SOx emissions that make meaningful contributions in noncompliant states. &nbsp;The proposed rule would have applied to 28 states, many of which challenged the rule in court, claiming the EPA preempted state authority by issuing its own plan to cut emissions in downwind states.</p> <p>The three-judge panel voted 2 to 1 to vacate the rule, which would have forced power producers to shutter a significant amount of reliable coal-fired generation.</p> <p>The ruling preserves the reliability of a national grid that was built around coal and gives the industry much needed time to develop responsible, cost-effective strategies for reducing NOx and SOx.</p> <p>The ruling also showed that the EPA’s method for calculating the limits on NOx and SOx was fundamentally flawed. Just as important, it highlighted the EPA’s propensity to skirt the law in its war on coal.</p> <p>“It’s the third or fourth ruling by a federal court that shows the EPA to be overriding the authority that the states have and conducting an unlawful regulatory program against coal,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.</p> <p>The court found that the EPA exceeded its authority. Specifically, the court pointed to the rule’s statutory text, which “grants EPA authority to require upwind states to reduce only their own significant contributions to a downwind state’s nonattainment… EPA has used the good neighbor provision to impose massive emissions reduction requirements on upwind states without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text.”</p> <p>Translation: The EPA ignored individual state contributions to pollution problems in downwind states and imposed thresholds without regard to their actual contributions.</p> <p>Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt put it like this: The rule “would have required Oklahoma to spend millions of dollars to retrofit power plants to address theoretical compliance issues in one county in Michigan.”</p> <p>While the ruling served a valuable purpose by redefining the EPA’s authority over the U.S. power sector, don’t expect it to change much in the long term. The ruling will slow, not alter, the transition to gas-fired generation and stricter emission limits. The effect of CSAPR’s demise will be a significant delay in the implementation of utilities’ Air Quality Compliance Solutions.</p> <p>There will be less fuel switching, but the low price of gas, the prospect of more regulation and the MATS (Mercury Air and Toxics Standards) rule will continue to drive the transition to simple cycle and combined cycle plants.</p> <p>It may take years, but CSAPR will be reincarnated in one form or another. Some believe the EPA will re-write the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the rule CSAPR was meant to replace.</p> <p>“CSAPR was the most complicated rule-making I’ve ever been engaged in,” <a href="http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2012/08/coal-to-remain-viable-says-epas-mccarthy-at-coal-gen-keynote.html">Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation</a>, said last month at COAL-GEN 2012. “We had to look at two years of air modeling to understand where the pollution was coming from.”</p> <p>The reaction from utilities has been mixed. A utility in Kentucky, Big Rivers Electric Corp., has asked state regulators for permission to drop its plan to comply with CSAPR, a move that would save the utility $270 million. For the most part, though, utilities’ plans to retire coal-fired generation have not changed. Luminant, the largest power provider in Texas, said it will continue its capital investment program to comply with pending and expected environmental regulations.</p> <p>“The court’s decision that the EPA overstepped its authority with CSAPR has the potential to slow the sector’s transition from coal to gas as a primary fuel,” said Laurie Oppel of Navigant. “While the decision can be seen as a short-term win for the coal industry, it likely won’t alter the path the electricity sector is currently on.”</p> <p>So what’s next?</p> <p>The EPA has until Oct. 5 to request a rehearing before the three-judge panel that vacated CSAPR, or it could request a review by the full court. If a rehearing is denied, the EPA may then appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, an appeal to the Supreme Court is unlikely because the odds of a favorable ruling are next to nil.</p> <p>“The most likely outcome will be that EPA will go back to the drawing board, using its current modeling but taking into account current state attainment designations, and will come up with a new SIP (State Implementation Plan) call,” Jane Montgomery, partner at Schiff Hardin LLP, told <i>Power Engineering</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/power-points/2012/09/CSAPRsDemiseTheBigPi.html2012-09-13T20:22:44.053Z2012-09-13T20:25:06.776Z 500

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