Coal, Gas

POWER-GEN: Spotlighting the Industry

Issue 11 and Volume 109.

It’s Showtime at the Sands, where POWER-GEN International will spotlight the latest developments in the industry.

By: Steve Blankinship, Associate Editor

It’s Showtime in the Desert – and nowhere are the shows bigger than in Las Vegas. That goes for POWER-GEN International, the world’s largest power industry conference and exhibition, which is expected to attract more than 17,000 attendees and 1,100 exhibitors from about 80 countries. Now in its 18th year, the power industry’s Number 1 event provides more opportunities than ever to network with the experts and meet with the companies impacting the future of the industry.

Energy is on everyone’s mind this year, with oil and natural gas prices soaring to record levels in response to steadily escalating worldwide demand and temporary effects on energy producing infrastructure caused by hurricanes in the U.S. gulf coast. There is a growing public awareness that new baseload generating capacity and other energy infrastructure enhancements are needed and that “business as usual” in matters of energy production, reliability and security will no longer allow supply to match demand.

So what will everyone be talking about at POWER-GEN this year? For one thing, the power industry’s “back-to-basics” game plan, which has characterized much of the utility industry the past few years, is gradually ceding ground to the new realities imposed by a period of deregulation and open competition. While the commitment to sound business basics remains quite strong, companies are beginning to spread their wings once again seeking growth and opportunity. Meanwhile, renewed interest in coal, nuclear, liquefied natural gas, integrated gasification combined cycle technology, coupled with building momentum in renewable energy and distributed generation, present tremendous opportunities if fully realized.

Sobering challenges persist, however, in the form of tightening emission regulations including the control of mercury emissions and apparently inevitable carbon dioxide capture and sequestration mandates, uneven deregulation, volatile fuel prices, uncertain power prices, and ever-present threats to economic growth. Stretching across this shifting playing field is the large-scale impact that widespread consolidation could have on the industry. Industry leaders will have to carefully weigh challenge against opportunity to select the most appropriate pathway to growth.

Each keynote speaker at POWER-GEN International 2005 will examine the major challenges and opportunities their companies expect to face in the immediate future, the strategies they are pursuing to maintain growth and profitability, and the external and internal forces that will guide execution. The companies represented in the keynote session constitute a diverse mix of players in the power sector, ranging from large-scale utility to independent power producer to equipment manufacturer. This diversity promises to provide keynote attendees with timely insight into the dynamics shaping the evolution of the power industry.

Leading off will be Dr. Muhson Shlash, the Minister of Electricity for Iraq. Minister Shlash will describe the tremendous challenges and opportunities Iraq faces in rebuilding its energy infrastructure. The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity is responsible for policy, planning, and implementation of the Iraqi electrical system, including generation, transmission, distribution, communication and control, and infrastructure security. Dr. Shlash was appointed to his post on May 15 by the Iraqi Parliament. Although born in Baghdad, Dr. Shlash moved to Canada about 15 years ago. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Shlash was the Technical Director of the Iraqi Professional Forum, an energy consulting firm.

Michael Niggli, President, Sempra Generation
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Andrew White was named president and CEO of GE Energy’s nuclear division in January of 2003. White, who received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Bath University in the U.K., joined GE in 1981 as an electrical engineer in London. His wide range of experience in energy products, technology and services includes serving as general manager of Asia Services, general manager of Global Operations & Maintenance Services and general manager of Installation and Field Services.

Michael Niggli is president of Sempra Generation and is responsible for development, acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of merchant power plants and energy infrastructure throughout North America. Prior to joining Sempra in 2000, Niggli was chairman and CEO of Nevada Power Company and later Sierra Pacific Resources. He contributed to a successful merger of the two companies. He also guided the company through the deregulation process in the State of Nevada and saw it achieve the highest customer satisfaction rating of any electric utility in the western United States as reported by J.D. Powers and Associates. For ten years, he was a senior executive with Entergy, where he was responsible for strategic planning, customer service, fuels acquisition, marketing and sales. He began his career in 1971 at San Diego Gas & Electric, where was responsible for electric and gas operations, fuels acquisition, project management and customer service.

Jim Gordon, President, Cape Wind Associates
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Rounding out the keynote session is Jim Gordon, president of Energy Management Inc., a company he started in 1975 that has become one of the most successful privately held independent power companies in America. Gordon recruited and managed a team of professionals who were able to complete the myriad and complex tasks of creating state-of-the-art power projects. His sense of timing and grasp of political and regulatory directions allowed EMI to develop and operate some of New England’s first gas-fired cogeneration and independent power projects as well as the first generation of merchant electric plants in the United States. EMI is now developing Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind park. Gordon is a graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communications and worked for Warner Communications prior to founding EMI.


Four megasessions focusing on topics of maximum interest to the power industry will take place on Thursday morning, December 8.

Large-frame gas turbines are now responsible for a significant percentage of power production around the world. The Large Gas Turbines megasession will explore the status, improvements and evolution of the large-frame OEM combustion turbines. Fleet experience and advanced technology progress will also be highlighted and discussed.

Another megasession will address the question “Are Renewable Portfolio Standard Goals Achievable?” Renewable portfolio standards currently in place will require about 25,000 MW of renewable capacity by 2020, and the total is growing. This session will examine RPS goals across the United States and the technical, business and regulatory challenges involved in meeting these requirements.

No topic is hotter in the power industry today than integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), and the IGCC Panel Discussion will address and update current issues related to the technology and its prospects. IGCC proponents have moved on a number of fronts to establish the technologies as serious contenders for future power plants in the United States and worldwide. The speakers in this session will provide interesting insights on the global reach of gasification, on the business focus of the leading IGCC technologies, and on the operations and economics of gasification systems.

And with King Coal back in a big way, “Permitting New Coal Generation: Challenges and Solutions,” will be composed of a panel of speakers from Burns & McDonnell, Peabody Energy, Lathrop & Gage and Wisconsin Public Service, who will provide an update issues facing new coal-fired capacity. Although the demand for the new baseload generation that coal can provide remains strong, obtaining required permits remains challenging. The panel will focus on unique approaches and solutions for successfully permitting new coal-fired generation in the United States. Topics to be covered include air permitting, the National Energy Policy Act and public acceptance of new coal-fired plants.

Network Where the Stars Do

Power industry networking doesn’t get any better than at POWER-GEN International. And this year, a major networking opportunity takes place in one of the trendiest, most glamorous watering spots in the world – the Tao Asian Bistro at the Venetian Hotel. Already the scene of some of the most stellar gatherings of show-biz and other world-famous celebs, the Las Vegas Tao will be the scene of Power Engineering’s Networking Reception. Formerly the International Reception, the event has been completely reinvented to provide the optimal networking opportunities.

Originating in New York City and well-known as a celebrity-frequented hotspot, Tao at the Venetian has lush waterfalls, century old woods and stones, and a 20-ft hand-carved Buddha floating in fish-filled pool. Containing an amazing “Asian City” featuring a critically-acclaimed Pan-Asian menu served in an ultra-chic restaurant with a hot nightclub and lounge on the upper floors, Tao is one of the largest entertainment complexes in the world.

POWER-GEN International’s exhibit floor last year in Orlando.
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Featuring live music, a sumptuous buffet of Hong Kong Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines and complimentary wine and beer, the Power Engineering Networking Reception promises to be the hottest ticket in town. All international delegates and participants of the Energy Provider Program are admitted free.

For a more casual and sedate venue, POWER-GEN’s networking breakfasts on Wednesday and Thursday will offer roundtable discussions on operations & maintenance, gas turbines, distributed generation and on-site power, fossil technologies, environmental issues, heat recovery steam generators and other topics.

Technical Tours and Continuing Education

As always, POWER-GEN offers technical tours of nearby power facilities. And for many decades, no power facility in the United States has been a more popular tourist attraction than Hoover Dam. Maintained and operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Hoover Dam – with an installed capacity of 2,074 MW – generates more than 4 billion kWh/yr for customers in Nevada, Arizona and California.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to conduct a special tour to POWER-GEN International attendees. The tour includes a presentation on the history, technical aspects and role the dam plays in providing both water supply and energy in the western United States. A guided tour follows of the plant’s inner workings, including generators, tail race, penstocks and seepage gallery.

POWER-GEN is also offering a tour of the Apex and Silver Hawk power plants north of Las Vegas. Mirant’s Apex Generating Plant consists of a 550 MW gas-fired unit that went into commercial operation in 2003. The facility uses advanced combined-cycle technology and emissions controls. Each phase of what will ultimately be an 1,100 MW facility includes two GE Frame 7-FA gas turbines operating in a combined-cycle mode with two heat recovery steam generators and a steam turbine. The plant uses dry-low-NOx combustors combined with SCR technology to control NOx emissions to 3.0 ppm.

Silver Hawk is a 570 MW gas-fired unit owned by GenWest, a subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, and Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). Pinnacle West is in the process of selling its 75 percent share of the plant to Nevada Power. The plant went into service in May 2004. Constructed with best available control technology, the plant is a dry cooled unit that requires about one-tenth of the water needed by a plant cooled by water.

Finally, a late addition to the tour lineup is an exclusive visit to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage Facility. Attendees will get to speak with project scientists, see current activities and learn about future plans. The tour includes visits to the underground laboratory, the tunnel/boring machine, and the crest of Yucca Mountain for a panoramic view of the areas.

And through POWER-GEN’s increasingly popular Competitive Power College (CPC) pre-conference curriculum, power industry professionals can chose from sixteen advanced power industry educational sessions. CPC topics are presented in four-hour, eight-hour and 16-hour formats. Registration fees cover workshop materials, certificates of completion, coffee breaks and lunch (for eight-hour and 16-hour courses).