Coal, Gas, Nuclear

Industry News

Issue 5 and Volume 120.

Dynegy Will Shutter 30 Percent of Southern Illinois’ Generation Capacity

Dynegy, one of the nation’s largest independent power producers, said it plans to shut down about 30 percent of Southern Illinois’ power generation capacity, citing a failure to recover basic operating costs in the latest Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) capacity auction.

Over the next year, the company will shut down several coal-fired units, including Units 1 and 3 at the Baldwin Power Station and Unit 2 at the Newton Power Station.

Earlier this year, Dynegy announced plans to retire the 465-MW Wood River Power Station in June because it was no longer cost effective to operate the coal-fired plant.

Altogether, Dynegy said it will shut down 2,800 MW of coal-fired generation, which amounts to 30 percent of the power generation capacity in Southern Illinois.

Dynegy asked MISO to remove 1,835 MW from MISO Zone 4.

Dynegy Chief Executive Officer Robert Flexon said low wholesale power prices coupled with MISO’s market design prevents power producers in Zone 4 from receiving sufficient compensation to cover generating costs.

Generation units in Zone 4, Flexon said, are “wrongly grouped with out-of-state utilities rather than the competitive power producers in northern Illinois and PJM. This must change.”

Oracle Acquiring Opower for $532 Million

Oracle, the California-based software giant, has agreed to purchase Opower, a cloud-based energy software company, for $532 million in cash, or $10.30 per share. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year.

Opower provides cloud-based energy efficiency software services to more than 100 utilities worldwide, including Exelon and Pacific Gas & Electric. The company stores and analyzes meter information from 60 million end-use customers, enabling utilities to exploit the data to trim costs, boost efficiency and enhance reliability.

The deal would create the world’s largest provider of mission-critical cloud services to utilities, Oracle said.

“Utilities want modern technology solutions that work together to meet their evolving customer, operational and compliance needs,” said Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle’s Global Business Unit.

SunEdison Files for Chapt. 11 Bankruptcy

SunEdison Inc. and some of its subsidiaries voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York.

SunEdison’s publicly-traded yieldcos, TerraForm Power and TerraForm Global, are not part of the filing. The company has started the process for restructuring, including securing commitments for new capital totaling up to $300 million in debtor-in-possession financing from a consortium of first and second lien lenders. The new financing will support day-to-day operations during reorganization, including work on ongoing power projects.

SunEdison was set to buy Vivint Solar, but the $2.2 billion deal was called off in March after Vivint said SunEdison failed to secure financing.

Nevada Company to Pursue Purchase of Unfinished Nuclear Plant

A Nevada company says it will try to purchase an unfinished nuclear power plant in northern Alabama.

Managing partner Michael Dooley of Phoenix Energy of Nevada said the company wants to use the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant site to produce electricity through a new technology.

The Tennessee Valley Authority decided Thursday to declare the plant surplus property and sell it to the highest bidder.

Dooley says Phoenix Energy already has detailed plans for the site.

While the federal utility says it has spent more than $4 billion at the plant since the 1970s, chief executive Bill Johnson said the property has been appraised at only $36 million.

The 1,600-acre site at Hollywood, Alabama, includes two partially finished nuclear reactors, warehouses, office buildings, parking areas, railroad spurs and a helicopter pad.

Feds Approve Plan to Build Gas Pipeline for Power Plant

Federal officials have signed off on a plan to build a 34-mile pipeline through five central Pennsylvania counties that will carry natural gas to a power plant being built along the Susquehanna River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Sunbury Pipeline Project earlier this month.

The pipeline would service the power plant being built in Shamokin Dam, about 40 miles north of Harrisburg, and will travel through Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Union and Snyder counties.

UGI Energy Services Inc. spokesman Kenneth Robinson said they are pleased with the approval. Construction should begin after state regulators issue the necessary permits.

The utility said it plans to complete the pipeline in November and have gas available early next year. The power plant is scheduled to be completed in early 2018.

Siemens Ships 1,000th Gas Turbine Manufactured at Berlin Factory

Siemens celebrated the shipment of its 1,000th gas turbine manufactured at its Huttenstrasse plant, a century-old manufacturing factory in Berlin, Germany.

The 300-MW SGT5-4000F gas turbine is en route to the Umm Al Houl combined cycle power plant in Qatar. It is one of six turbines manufactured for the plant, which is scheduled to begin commercial production in 2018. Siemens also agreed to provide maintenance and service for the plant under a 25-year contract.

Altogether, the 1,000 gas turbines produced at the Berlin factory represent nearly 220,000 MW of installed capacity in 65 countries. The factory shipped its first gas turbine in 1972.

Duke Energy Renewables Buys Six NC Solar Plants

Duke Energy Renewables acquired six, 5-MW solar power projects in eastern North Carolina from Community Energy.

Five of the six sites are in service. The sixth, Seaboard, is set to come online in May. Output from the projects is being sold to Dominion NC Power under 15-year agreements. Gehrlicher Solar America Corp., a division of M&W Americas Inc., built the projects. About 135,000 solar modules were installed on all of the sites.

Duke Energy in 2015 added 300 MW of solar energy in North Carolina. The utility has invested more than $4 billion in renewable energy and plans to invest about $3 billion over the next five years.

Iberdrola SA Orders Two M501J Gas Turbines

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas said it will supply two J-series gas turbines, a steam turbine and long-term service under a contract with Iberdrola SA.

The turbines and steam generator will be installed in an 890-MW combined cycle plant Iberdrola is building in Los Mochis for Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned power company. The deal also includes a long-term service agreement.

The deal comes just days after CFE entered into a 25-year power purchase agreement with Iberdrola.

Each of the two M501J gas turbines are rated at 327 MW. Mitsubishi Hitachi said it has received 45 orders for the 501J gas turbine. Nineteen units are in commercial operation worldwide.

Coal Retirements Reach 100,000-MW Milestone

The Sierra Club this month celebrated the promised retirement of more than 100,000 MW of the nation’s coal-fired power assets since 2010.

Calling it “one of the biggest clean energy milestones yet,” the organization’s website extolled the decrease in coal-fired power as sufficient to “prevent 100,792 asthma attacks, 9,420 heart attacks, and 6,097 premature deaths annually.”

According to the organization, the 100,000-MW milestone was surpassed when Houston-based Dynegy announced it will retire 1,877 MW of coal-fired power assets, phasing out Units 1 and 3 at its Baldwin Power Station and Unit 2 at its Newton Power Station, both in Illinois.

The Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign has advocated for a reduction in U.S. coal-fired power assets for more than a decade. In 2010, the campaign shifted its focus from stopping the development of new coal-fired power plants to replacing existing coal-fired plants with renewable resources. Since that time, power producers have committed to take 101,673 MW of coal-fired power offline, including the announced retirements of 232 coal plants and 662 coal-fired units across the country, according to the organization.

NRC to Issue Early Site Permit for NJ Nuclear Reactor

An early site permit will be issued for a potential nuclear plant site located next to operating nuclear plants in New Jersey.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board found the staff’s review of the application from PSEG Power LLC and PSEG Nuclear LLC was adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings. The new plant would be located adjacent to the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants. The technical review covered issues such as how the site’s characteristics could affect plant safety, environmental protection, and plans for coping with emergencies. The staff published the final safety evaluation in September 2015 and the final environmental impact statement for the permits in November 2015.

The permit will be valid for up to 20 years. The permit does not authorize any NRC-regulated construction work. PSEG would have to apply separately for a license to build and operate a nuclear plant at the site.