Carbon Sequestration Efforts Advance

Issue 7 and Volume 112.

New coal projects designed to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) appear to be on hold pending national legislation that would set standards, laws and regulations for doing so—and also establish a price for carbon. Nevertheless, several private sector efforts are proceeding to determine the technological and economic feasibility of capturing and sequestering CO2.

GE Energy has signed an agreement with Schlumberger Carbon Services to align its experience in integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems with Schlumberger’s geologic storage expertise and capabilities for site selection, characterization and qualification. GE Energy has a 630 MW IGCC reference plant design, while Schlumberger provides expertise, technology and project management for CO2 storage.

Meanwhile, a new study by the state of Ohio indicates that the underground geology in the eastern part of the state is suitable for storing CO2 from a FirstEnergy coal-fired plant. The study also indicates more research is needed to show if CO2 can actually be injected and stored.

At FirstEnergy’s R.E. Burger plant, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership continue studying the feasibility of CO2 injection in a seven-state region.

“Injection testing must be performed to see if the rock strata at the site can actually store sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide to make the effort worthwhile,” said Larry Wickstrom, chief of the state’s Division of Geological Survey.

Details of the Burger area geology were drawn from oil and gas record data and from the drilling an 8,200-foot-deep well in early 2007. That well identified at least three zones capable of holding CO2. All were at least 5,000 feet deep with more than 3,000 feet of impermeable shale above them.

Battelle Laboratory, based in Columbus, Ohio, is injecting small amounts of CO2 into those geological zones this summer as site testing continues. The plan is to collect CO2 from coal combustion and pump it under pressure into the ground. That process will convert the gas into a liquid to be added to saline formations far underground.

For the GE Energy and Schlumberger venture, the two will align the technical needs of capture and storage with the need for high utility plant operability.

“While the new arrangement provides technical and commercial expertise for moving forward with coal-based power generation, clear regulations and policies are needed for large-scale implementation,” said John Lavelle, president of GE Energy’s gasification business. GE’s IGCC plants can be built with carbon capture and storage incorporated from the beginning or designed to be retrofitted when clear policy and regulations create an appropriate environment.

GE’s IGCC technology is used at the TECO Polk I station in Florida, where it has operated for more than 12 years. GE’s reference IGCC design is being used for plants under development at Edwardsport, Ind., by Duke Energy, in southern Illinois by Tenaska and by AEP in West Virginia and Ohio.—Steve Blankinship

Wind Sector Believes 20 Percent Goal “Achievable”

The United States wind energy sector continues to believe it is possible to produce 20 percent of the nation’s electricity with wind by 2030. But the 20 percent number is not a prediction, guarantee or projection. Instead, according to Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the “20 Percent Vision” is “achievable but not inevitable.” He made his comments at AWEA’s 2008 conference in Houston. Wind presently provides less than 1 percent of the electricity in the United States.

Foremost among the obstacles to achieving the “20 Percent Vision,” he said, is breaking away from the federal wind energy production tax credit’s on-and-off nature. The credit offers wind energy producers a two cent production tax credit (PTC) on every kilowatt-hour of power produced. Swisher said broad political support exists for the PTC, but that disagreement remains over how it should be paid and by whom.

Other elements needed to achieve the 20 percent goal are new transmission built to move power from remote wind-rich areas to load centers, more load balancing efforts that allow grids to accept higher wind penetration, more wind turbine manufacturing and a solution to environmental issues such as the effects of wind project development on wildlife.

In order to help address wildlife concerns, Swisher announced establishment of the American Wind Energy Wildlife Institute. He said the initiative would help achieve wind and wildlife goals effectively, quickly and with better results than wind industry members could achieve acting alone.

Regarding transmission issues, one model receiving wide attention is the competitive renewable energy zone (CREZ) concept now being pursued in Texas. Under the CREZ model, a coordinated effort is underway by the state, its primary power grid (ERCOT) and power providers to build $6 billion worth of transmission to deliver wind power from west Texas (and ultimately from offshore wind turbines in the Gulf of Mexico) to load centers in the Lone Star State.

Texas currently leads the nation with 25 percent of all U.S. wind generation, almost all of it located in the western part of the state. More than $3 billion was invested in wind generation last year and Texas is on track to surpass its current 5,000 MW renewable portfolio standard six years ahead of schedule.

During an executive roundtable at the conference, Michael Sullivan, senior vice president of development for FPL Energy, which has developed more wind capacity than any other company in the United States, said that renewable energy is expensive and people will have to “‘pay up”. He said “wind is an energy displacement product, not an energy replacement” and that rising natural gas prices will keep wind competitive with other energy sources. He also said that “giant-feed” national subsidies for wind such as those that exist in Spain and Denmark do not work in the U.S., where wind is viable in only about 20 states.

Vic Abate, vice president of renewable energy for GE Energy, said that every additional percentage point of renewable achieved worldwide requires 40,000 wind turbines or 500 million solar panels. Abate said he sees a lot of engineering talent migrating from the gas turbine and aircraft turbine business to the wind turbine sector. While noting that the costs of building wind projects have nearly risen since 2003, the overall cost of wind and solar projects are more heavily leveraged toward materials costs than are other power sources that require fuel.

During a press conference, former Federal Energy Regulatory Chairman Pat Wood III predicted that by 2100 virtually all electricity in the U.S. will be produced by nuclear, wind and solar. Bridging that period, he said, will be coal and natural gas.—Steve Blankinship

Emission Guide Issued for ICI Boilers

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) released recommended guidelines for state and local air quality agencies to follow in regulating emissions from industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) boilers in what it called the post-USEPA Industrial Boiler MACT period.

According to the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, USEPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule for ICI boilers was struck down by a federal court in June 2007. Because there is not a federal rule in place regulating these boilers, state and local agencies are required to set the limits for the affected facilities on a case-by-case basis. These limits must be equivalent to those that would have applied to the source had the USEPA been allow to stand. Because of the potentially significant workload associated with developing MACT limits on a case-by-case basis for the large number of affected sources and the short deadlines imposed by the Clean Air Act for state and local actions, NACAA decided to develop a Permit Guidance model. Representing more than 200 state and local clean air agencies, NACAA collected boiler emissions data from 40 states. It used this data as a basis to write its recommended guidelines.

Under the Clean Air Act, MACT is defined as the average of the best-performing 12 percent of sources. NACAA set its standards slightly higher to account for differences in boiler operation and to give operators more leeway.

Under the guidelines, industrial boilers would be required to curb hazardous air pollutant emissions by between 55 percent and 85 percent. NACAA estimates nearly 80 percent of the 3,000 industrial boilers in the country would need to make some reduction in hazardous pollutant emissions if states adopt its recommended guidelines.

USEPA’s vacated rule had capped carbon monoxide emissions from all new large and limited-use boilers at 400 parts per million (ppm). The NACAA recommends a range of 3 ppm to 10 ppm for gas-fired and oil-fired boilers, 35 ppm to 60 ppm for coal-fired and 100 ppm to 150 ppm for wood-fired units. Likewise, NACAA’s recommendation to limit particulate matter emissions to between 0.008 and 0.025 pounds per million British thermal units for various existing boiler types is below USEPA’s vacated limit of 0.21 lb/MMBtu. USEPA had proposed limits on hydrogen chloride emissions between 0.0005 and 0.02 lb/MMBtu for new boilers and at 0.09 for existing units. NACAA proposed limiting hydrogen chloride emissions to between 0.006 and 0.015 lb/MMBtu depending on boiler fuel type. NACAA also recommended limiting mercury emissions to 5.4 to 7.5 pounds per trillion Btu for coal-fired boilers. This was more than the 3 lb/TBtu USEPA proposed for new boilers but less than the 9 lb/TBtu for existing boilers. Mercury emissions from wood-fired boilers would be capped at 2.5 to 4.5 lb/TBtu. The EPA had approved 3 lb/TBtu.—David Wagman

Duke to Install Solar Power

Duke Energy Carolinas is proposing a $100 million plan to install electricity generating solar panels at up to 850 North Carolina sites including homes, schools, stores and factories. In June, Duke filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission seeking approval to implement this distributed solar generation program.

If approved by regulators, Duke Energy Carolinas would spend two years installing approximately 20 MW of distributed solar generation on rooftops of customer businesses and homes or on ground sites within the company’s North Carolina service area. Duke would own and operate the equipment. Power produced by each installation would be used to serve the utility’s customers. Each installation would cost around $5,000/kW.

The company said it plans to recover its $100 million investment through North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio standard cost recovery mechanism. The state’s REPS requires Duke to provide 12.5 percent of its customers’ power needs with renewables or energy efficiency by 2021. Beginning in 2010, 0.02 percent of the electricity sold to customers in the state, or an equivalent amount of energy, must be produced by solar energy resources. That requirement grows to 0.2 percent in 2018.

Earlier, Duke Energy Carolinas said it would buy around 16 MW from the largest photovoltaic solar farm in the U.S., to be built by SunEdison in Davidson County, N.C. The project is set to become operational in late 2010.—David Wagman

Darlington Tapped for New Ontario Nuclear

Ontario’s Liberal government said it plans to build new nuclear reactors alongside the existing Darlington nuclear plant near Toronto. Three nuclear companies–Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Westinghouse and Areva NP of France–have been asked to bid on Canada’s first new nuclear reactors in 15 years. Bids are due by October and provincial leaders say they plan to make a decision by the end of the year.

New nuclear capacity may come to Ontario’s Darlington nuclear station. Click here to enlarge image

The Darlington plant, run by government-owned Ontario Power Generation, was chosen over the privately-operated Bruce nuclear plant because of reportedly limited transmission capacity from Lake Huron to the Toronto area. The plants would be the first new nuclear facilities constructed in Canada since Darlington was completed in 1993. Prior to Darlington, Gentilly 2, a 675 MW reactor, opened in Quebec in 1983. The 635 MW Point Lepreau facility opened in New Brunswick in 1981.

A price tag for the new units will not be available until after the bidding process is finished. The new reactors are scheduled to be completed by July 2018.—Chris Posey

Grow Your Own Coal

NewEarth Renewable Energy hopes interest grows in E-Coal, a solid fuel derived from renewable agricultural or biological materials intended for co-firing with conventional coal in ratios starting at 10 percent and ranging to as much as 100 percent.

“Any coal-fired plant can immediately reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by directly co-firing E-Coal with fossil coal or by totally replacing fossil coal with E-Coal without any retrofitting, loss of productivity, down time, or service interruption to customers,” said NewEarth founder Ahava Amen. The company claims its product is CO2 negative, greenhouse gas neutral and a pound-for-pound replacement for coal because it has the same energy content as fossil coal. The company said test results show a heat value of more than 14,500 Btu/lb. The company said the fuel can achieve heat values up to 16,000 Btu/lb.

An executive with a major power engineering firm described the fuel as essentially a biomass pyrolysis product, somewhat akin to charcoal. He said it likely would be more expensive than coal and that its overall cost effectiveness would probably hinge on whether carbon credits can be monetized. He speculated the fuel would probably be limited to partial fuel switching rather than total conversion.

A major boiler manufacturer agreed that the product appears to be most applicable to fuel blending applications. The manufacturer also said that combusting the fuel might affect fans and boiler auxiliaries and that excess air requirements might impact fan sizing. The OEM also questioned how a pulverizer would respond to the fuel.

“We have experience processing up to 20 percent wood with 80 percent coal in pulverizers but never more than that,” the OEM said. Also, based on the moisture data provided by NewEarth, the boiler maker said that although the pulverizer would not need much hot air for drying, it would probably need a lot of tempering air to keep mill outlet temperatures manageable.

According to NewEarth, the fuel could be produced from “short rotation” energy crop, including willow, bamboo, Nile reed, seaweed and algae. The fuel can also contain scrap wood products and may be produced using organic waste from municipal and agricultural sources.

NewEarth has a fuel manufacturing facility in Canada and plans to build plants in Louisiana and Brazil.

Amen said that co-firing with E-coal may extend the life of an existing facility, allowing it to continue burning fossil coal within the confines of likely carbon restraints.—Steve Blankinship

Renewables and Transmission Are Senate Topic

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month held its first-ever hearing on renewable energy and transmission.

“Like any infrastructure, the U.S. transmission grid is aging and needs upgrading to function reliably and to meet future load requirements,” said Don Furman, senior vice president at Iberdrola Renewables, president-elect of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and chair of AWEA’s Transmission Committee. He testified before the committee.

Transmission limitations are among the biggest constraints on wind and renewable energy’s growth in the United States. A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) study found that wind could provide 20 percent of electricity by 2030, but that one obstacle to achieving that goal is new transmission investment.

According to a DOE report released in May, the transmission investment needed for wind to provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030 would be about $60 billion, or some $3 billion a year. The industry currently spends $8 billion a year on transmission infrastructure.

Furman told the committee that new transmission capacity typically helps a utility gain access to lower-cost generation. The Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) recently found that adding 5,000 miles of new 765 kV transmission lines to move wind energy from North and South Dakota to the New York City area would result in substantial savings for consumers. Even though generation and transmission costs would cost some $13 billion, the MISO study found that consumers would save around $600 million a year by enabling utilities to acquire lower-cost electricity.

Expanded transmission also would boost reliability and reduce congestion, Furman said. What’s more, the lack of sufficient transmission capacity is a factor in rising electricity prices. Transmission congestion limits the ability of utilities to access cheaper sources that may be farther away, forcing them to rely on generation facilities that are closer to load centers.—David Wagman

World Demand for Turbines to Reach $106b in 2012

The world market for turbines and related products (turbine-based engines, generators and generator sets) is projected to increase 4.9 percent annually to $106 billion in 2012. Growth will be driven by rising demand in the large turbine engine segment, supported by increases in aircraft manufacturing, as well as continued strength in a number of power generation markets. Growth is expected to moderate after a decade-long boom in wind turbine demand moved these products from a niche market.

In addition, while relatively low in percentage terms, demand for electric power generation turbines will increase $12.6 billion from 2007 levels by 2012—accounting for more than half of the increases in the total turbine market. Environmental factors will also promote sustained growth in wind generation systems, although these increases will not match the pace of the past decade. These and other trends are presented in World Turbines, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based industry research firm.

Growth in the Chinese market will remain well above the global average, despite an expected deceleration from the double-digit annual pace of the past decade. The strongest percentage gains are expected in Mexico and the Latin America and Africa/Mideast regions, buoyed by the ongoing expansion of the highly underdeveloped power generation and aerospace sectors. Above-average growth is also expected in India and Eastern Europe, where modernization and expansion of power generation and air carrier sectors are stimulating considerable demand for turbines. The large and developed markets in North America and Western Europe will generally not match the pace of these markets in percentage terms.

However, given the sheer size of turbine demand in these two regions, the continued growth in both will provide significant opportunities for turbine producers, the study said.

Global turbine production is centered in North America and Western Europe, which accounted for a combined 73 percent share of the total value of world shipments in 2007. The United States is the leading global supplier, with more than $23 billion in 2007 shipments, followed by the United Kingdom, China, France and Germany, each with over $5 billion in output. The UK, the United States and Denmark are the largest net exporters of turbine products, with Denmark’s surplus consisting almost entirely of wind turbines.—Chris Posey

Steel Prices “Exploding” ABMA Hears

If the United States economy is in recession, then it’s an unusual one, said Thomas A. Danjczek, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, speaking at the American Boiler Manufacturers Association summer meeting in San Diego last month. That’s because unlike other recessions, the steel industry is not the first to see a downturn in economic activity.

Click here to enlarge image

Instead, the industry remains highly profitable and is operating at around 90 percent of its annual production capacity of about 110 million tons. What’s more, the U.S. steel industry is currently one of the world’s lowest-cost producers, a function of readily available metallics and transportation. Efficiency improvements in recent decades have “de-engineered labor out of the equation” meaning that labor costs are lower than they were 30 years ago. In the 1970s, for example, production required 12 man-hours per ton of steel. In 2008, the requirement is less than two man-hours per ton.

But recent price explosions for steel and other commodities threaten to make heavy construction all but unaffordable in the United States, said Fred Lyon, an attorney who quoted Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors for America. Steel is a major component in power plants, used for everything from boilers to structures.

Danjczek said his organization’s biggest potential threat is the loss of its customer base, in particular what he said were labor-intensive items made of steel. Since last year, prices for key raw materials have soared. Using 2007 as a base of 100, he said that iron ore this year is now at around 175; coking coal is around 300; and scrap steel (heavily used by his members) is around 250.

“Higher raw material prices have placed substantial cost pressures on NAFTA (North American) steel producers,” he said.

Lyon said the risk of rapidly rising raw material prices should be passed on to steel customers, who are “ideally suited” to pass the cost on to end-users.

“This is a bitter pill for end users,” he said, but sustained consumer demand means goods simply will cost more.

“We should ask no one above the end user to absorb the cost,” he said.

Inflation may soon be a problem if the price pressures continue, Danjczek said. “My surprise is that (the United States) is only running at a 2 percent inflation rate.”—David Wagman

Business Briefs

Arizona’s largest renewable energy facility to date, a 24 MW wood-fired biomass energy plant near Snowflake, Ariz., entered commercial service in mid-June, providing electricity to Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project. Owned and operated by Renegy Holdings Inc. the plant is generating electricity through a wood-burning boiler using forest thinning and recycled waste paper fibers from a newsprint paper mill adjacent to the biomass facility.

A joint statement issued after talks by Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari and U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said the countries reaffirmed their commitment to promoting bilateral nuclear energy cooperation. The statement said the two intended to “consult on potential financing support measures that would facilitate nuclear power plant construction in the United States.” The statement called it highly possible that Japanese companies will take part in many projects in the U.S. market.

Vestas said it will locate a wind power research center in Houston to focus on mechanics, electricity, control systems, advanced materials and aerodynamics. Vestas said it will focus specifically on turbine efficiency. Additionally, Vestas said it will conduct research through external partnerships. The research center is scheduled to open in 2009 and be fully operational in 2010.

Black Hills Colorado LLC, a unit of Black Hills Corp., has completed construction and is in start-up testing on the $101 million, 149 MW Valencia Energy Center in Belen, N.M.

Xcel Energy said it will provide enough wind power through its Windsource program to offset the estimated 3,000 MWh that the Democratic and Republican conventions will use this summer in Denver and Minneapolis. Power for the national conventions will come from Xcel Energy’s Ponnequin Wind Facility near the Colorado-Wyoming border and from a wind farm in southwestern Minnesota. Additional power will come from a 10 kW solar installation at The Pepsi Center convention center in Denver and a 10 kW solar installation at the High Bridge Generating Station in St. Paul, Minn.

UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between Constellation Energy and the EDF Group, said that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted the remainder of UniStar’s combined construction and operating license application (COLA) for an advanced design reactor in southern Maryland. The NRC action means the second portion of UniStar’s application, which includes a final safety analysis, is technically complete and ready for detailed NRC review. UniStar submitted the documents in March. UniStar expects to make a final decision by the end of this year on whether to proceed with early site work for a third reactor next to Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant. UniStar announced in February it had engaged an AREVA-Bechtel Power consortium to begin detailed design engineering for AREVA’s 1,600 MW U.S. EPR. UniStar’s COL application for a U.S. EPR at Calvert Cliffs would serve as the reference document for future UniStar plants.

Wind tower equipment maker DMI Industries plans to expand its plants in North Dakota and Oklahoma. The expansion should cost about $30 million. Both projects are expected to be completed to meet 2009 orders. The growth should increase capacity by 40 percent at DMI’s West Fargo plant and by 100 percent at the company’s Tulsa-area plant.

GSE Systems Inc. said it plans to build two new full scope nuclear simulators for a Japanese customer. GSE says it has been authorized to start work immediately on both projects. The simulators will be designed and delivered to existing nuclear power plants in Japan: one pressurized water reactor design and one boiling water reactor design. These new simulators will replace outdated simulators.

GE Energy said it signed almost $1 billion worth of contracts for gas turbines, generators and power plants in the Middle East. In a deal valued at $500 million, GE will supply gas turbines and generators to power plants owned by the Saudi Electricity Co. The gas turbine generators will be installed in a 960 MW expansion of the Rabigh Power Plant in Rabigh City. Four other Saudi Electricity plants will have GE gas turbines installed. The manufacturer also signed a $480 million contract for three power plants in Iraq. The power stations will be built in southern Baghdad, in the southern city of Kerbala and in Taji, north of Baghdad. GE earlier signed a contract to supply eight natural gas powered generators for Iraq.

Energy Management & Services Co. formed a Fuel Management Division focused on serving the fuel supply needs of combustion turbines. Jeffrey J. Brown a 27-year veteran of the energy industry has been appointed director, Fuel Management and will oversee business development and operations of the new unit. Initially the business unit will focus on developers, owners and operators of gas-fired generation.

Projects & Contracts

Virginia air regulators approved air-pollution permits for Dominion’s proposed 585 MW Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center. The plant won approval from state utility regulators earlier this year. The power plant will burn coal, plant matter and coal remainders known as “gob.” Last July the company estimated the plant would cost $1.6 billion, or around $2,735/kW. In late June the company said construction would cost around $1.8 billion, or $3,364/kW.

North Carolina regulators approved a plan by Duke Energy Carolinas to build two 620 MW combined cycle, natural gas-fired units at two existing facilities: Buck Steam Station and Dan River Steam Station. The company will begin construction at the Buck facility once it receives the necessary air permit from North Carolina. Construction at Dan River would follow. The new Buck unit could be in operation as early as the summer of 2010. The plan includes retiring two older coal units at each facility. The new gas-fired units are the first combined cycle generating units on the Duke Energy Carolinas system.

Southern California Edison will buy 245 MW of solar power under a deal struck with eSolar, which will build a series of solar towers with an eye toward delivering energy in 2011. The project will yield 105 MW of energy in the first year, ramping up to 245 MW by 2013.

UTC Power, a unit of United Technologies Corp., said that the New York Power Authority selected the company to supply 12 fuel cells totaling 4.8 MW for the Freedom Tower and three other new office towers under construction at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. Delivery of the PureCell Model 400 fuel cell systems will begin in January 2009. Together, the systems will constitute one of the world’s largest fuel cell installations.

GSE Systems Inc. said it won more than $4 million in new work in its conventional power plant simulation business sector. The company signed a multi-million-dollar contract to build two plant-specific full-scope coal-fired power plant simulators for plants in Germany. One simulator is for a new supercritical unit and the other is for a refurbished power plant. The new simulators will be used to train plant operators, engineers and managers. The company also signed a contract to build a full-scope coal-fired power plant simulator for the 600 MWe Porcheville plant in France.

Alliant Energy unit Wisconsin Power and Light Co. filed a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) application with Wisconsin regulators for a proposed 400 MW wind farm in Minnesota. WPL’s application seeks regulatory approval to develop approximately 200 MW of wind power on the Bent Tree Wind Farm site beginning in 2009. A decision regarding the development of an additional 200 MW has not yet been made. Pending regulatory approvals, WPL anticipates 200 MW to be in service by the end of 2010. The initial 200 MW phase of the project will cost around $450 to $475 million ($2,250/kW to $2,375/kW), excluding allowance for funds used during construction.

Alliant Energy Corporate Services said it will buy 303 wind turbines from Vestas-American Wind Technology Inc. for about $817 million. Delivery will begin next year and continue through 2010. The turbines, to be used by Alliant Energy’s Interstate Power and Light Co. and Wisconsin Power and Light Co., will have a total installed capacity of 500 MW.

Metso Automation Shanghai said it has been selected by SINOFINN Electric Engineering Corp. of China to implement maxDNA distributed control systems (DCS) for flue gas desulphurization (FGD) facilities of a 1,320 MW generating station. The FGD DCS contract will include an automation system with more than 3,000 I/O points. The system will be designed to control the new plant’s desulphurization facilities utilizing Metso Automation’s Performance Plus FGD control system technology. Metso Automation will also provide installation services, engineering, training and field service.

Alstom said it agreed to supply and install steam turbine retrofit equipment at three of Exelon Corp’s nuclear power generation facilities located in Illinois and Pennsylvania. The contract is worth some $420 million. Alstom has already begun work on the first project under the agreement–the retrofit replacement of three low-pressure steam turbine sections at the Quad Cities power station in Illinois. The retrofit of Exelon steam turbines is expected to increase output by approximately 40 MW per power generating unit.

Powerspan and Basin Electric completed a feasibility study for a carbon capture technology to be demonstrated at Basin Electric’s Antelope Valley Station. The demonstration project is designed to capture about one million tons of CO2 from the exhaust from Unit 1 at AVS. The captured CO2 would feed an existing CO2 compression and pipeline system owned Dakota Gasification Co. Construction of the carbon capture system is scheduled for late next year, with operation beginning in 2012.

Reliant Energy said it will spend around $50 million to reduce mercury emissions at five Pennsylvania coal-fired generating plants. Reliant hopes to remove at least 80 percent of the mercury content of the coal burned at the five stations to implement Pennsylvania’s Phase 1 Mercury Regulations. Installation of the Mer-Cure Sorbent Injection Systems designed by Alstom is scheduled for the first quarter of 2009. Reliant expects the project, which uses activated carbon injection for emissions control, to be completed in December 2009.

Voith Siemens Hydro signed a contract with American Municipal Power-Ohio (AMP) for mechanical, electrical, automation and balance of plant equipment for a 208 MW hydroelectric project. The order is valued in excess of $300 million. The three run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants will be located at existing dams on the Ohio River. The new generation facilities are planned to go on-line in 2012.

People & Personnel

American Electric Power made several personnel changes. Venita McCellon-Allen, currently president and chief operating officer of Southwestern Electric Power Co. with operations in Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas, has been named executive vice president—AEP Utilities West to replace Thomas M. Hagan who retired July 1. McCellon-Allen will report to Robert P. Powers, president of AEP Utilities and have responsibility for AEP’s four utility units operating in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Paul Chodak III, currently director of new plant development projects for AEP, will replace McCellon-Allen as president and chief operating officer of SWEPCO. He will report to McCellon-Allen. Pablo A. Vegas, currently director of strategic planning for AEP, will replace Patton as president and chief operating officer of AEP Texas and will report to McCellon-Allen.

John DiStasio, assistant general manager for Energy Delivery & Customer Service, has been named to succeed Jan Schori as Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD’s) general manager. DiStasio is a 27-year SMUD veteran. He served as assistant general manager since December 2000. In that role he was responsible for overseeing SMUD’s retail operations, including customer service, energy delivery, program development and communications, energy-efficiency and pricing. DiStasio joined SMUD in 1981 as a buyer for the District’s purchasing department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior from the University of San Francisco.

Day & Zimmermann Power Services named Gary McKinney as president of its Day & Zimmermann NPS (DZNPS) division, responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the union labor arm of the power services business, with a concentration on strategic planning and customer relations. McKinney replaces current president Tim Reddington, who will be retiring in the fall. McKinney joined Day & Zimmermann in 2006, when the company acquired Atlantic Union Resources (AURI) where he had worked since 1988, most recently serving as president and chief operating officer.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Duke Energy is paying $240 million to buy wind energy company Catamount Energy from affiliates of Diamond Castle Holdings. The combined entity will have more than 5,000 MW of wind energy under development in 12 states and around 500 MW of operating assets in the U.S. and Great Britain.

Dynegy Inc. and LS Power Group reached an agreement to sell a portion of their indirect interest in the 900 MW Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Besides buying an approximately 11 percent non-controlling ownership stake, which represents the equivalent of 100 MW, LCRA is also entering into a 30-year power purchase agreement for 100 MW of capacity commencing with commercial operations. Full terms were not disclosed. Sandy Creek is expected to enter commercial operation in 2012. The facility, which is under construction, will include a super-critical steam generator and advanced emission controls, including low-NOX burners, a selective catalytic reduction system, scrubbers and a continuous emissions monitoring system.

NiSource Inc. said its Northern Indiana Public Service Co. unit completed the purchase of the 535 MW Sugar Creek combined cycle gas turbine electric generating plant from Broadway Gen Funding LLC. The purchase price for the facility, in West Terre Haute, Ind., was approximately $330 million, or around $616/kW. Indiana regulators approved the acquisition in late May. They denied, however, NIPSCO’s requests to defer certain costs associated with the purchase and to implement a rate adjustment mechanism for purchased power costs.