Coal, Renewables, Solar

Industry News

Issue 11 and Volume 120.

Kemper County Coal Plant Produces First Electricity

Though Mississippi Power’s Kemper County coal gasification power plant encountered plenty of setbacks along the way, it is finally produced its first electricity.

The power, generated as part of the plant start-up process, was produced from a combination of syngas and natural gas.

“After decades of research and years of hard work at the site, we are thrilled that the Kemper County energy facility, the world’s most advanced coal plant, has generated electricity using syngas,” said Thomas A. Fanning, president and CEO of Southern Company, the parent company of Mississippi Power. “The technology at the heart of the first-of-its-kind facility provides a way forward for energy companies in the U.S. and around the world to cleanly generate electricity using an affordable and abundant resource.”

The plant, originally budgeted at $2.9 billion for a 2014 operation date, grew to $6.9 billion and a service date of November 30 of this year.

Exelon Ordered to Pay IRS $1.45 Billion

Exelon Generation was ordered to pay the IRS $1.45 billion in back taxes, penalties and interest on an issue involving power plant leases in Illinois.

The massive bill is the result of an aggressive tax strategy Exelon’s predecessor company took to shield itself from taxes after the 1999 sale of the Illinois fleet of coal-fired power plants owned by Commonwealth Edison, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

Funds from the sale were invested in long-term leases of power plants in other parts of the country. The IRS took the position the leases were intended as a tax dodge.

Exelon can appeal the ruling. A spokeswoman for Exelon said the company would not seek to recover any of the penalty from ratepayers.

Pattern Energy Purchases Armow Wind Power Plant

Pattern Energy Group Inc. has completed its purchase of a 90-MW interest in the 179-MW Armow Wind facility in Ontario from Pattern Energy Group LP.

The purchase price was $133 million.

“With an identified ROFO list of 942 MW of wind and solar projects – and a right of first offer on Pattern Development’s pipeline of 5,900 MW of development projects – we are confident in expanding our growth outlook to achieve our 5,000 MW target by the end of 2019,” said Mike Garland, president and CEO of Pattern Energy.

Armow Wind, operating in Kincardine, Ontario, consists of 91 Siemens 2.3-MW wind turbines and is jointly owned by Pattern Energy and Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. It reached commercial operation in December 2015.

Rhode Island Power Plant Review Suspended

The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board has suspended its review of Invenergy’s proposed gas-fired power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island.

The ruling indicates Invenergy failed to provide crucial details, including updated information on the water supply to be used for the 90-MW plant, which rendered its application incomplete.

A report by Rhode Island Public Radio indicates Janet Coit, director of the state’s Department of Environmental Management, said the board has set a deadline of mid-January to update its water plans and other details.

Previously, the Siting Board required Invenergy to explain why proceedings shouldn’t be suspended after Pascoag Utility District rescinded permission to use the proposed water supply for the $700 million plant.

Additionally, the town council of Burrillville, Rhode Island, cast a unanimous vote to oppose construction of the plant, although the Siting board always had the final say on the development.

Regulators Approve Xcel’s Plan to Shut Down Two Coal Plants

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a plan by Xcel Energy to shut down two coal-fired power plants in Becker, Minnesota, by 2026.

However, the commission did not approve Xcel’s plan to replace at least some of that lost generation by building a 786-MW combined-cycle gas-fired plant on the same site, reported the Star Tribune.

The commission directed Xcel to submit an alternate plan to replace the lost generation that would incorporate renewable energy alternatives along with the gas plant. Additionally, the commission asked Xcel to find ways to reduce demand, such as measures to reduce customer energy use.

The commission estimated there will be a need for an additional 750-MW of power capacity when the second coal generator is closed.

The two Sherco coal plants, which generate 682-MW each, weretargeted for closure by Xcel a year ago. They’re currently Xcel’s largest power plants in Minnesota.

Nuisance Case against Oklahoma Wind Farm Dismissed

U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti dismissed an anticipatory nuisance case brought against a 149-turbine, 298-MW wind farm in Oklahoma.

The case, brought forth by a group of land owners and the Oklahoma Wind Action Association in 2014, centered on possible noise and health effects and sought a permanent injunction, the Oklahoman reported. DeGiusti ruled the plaintiffs did not show evidence of harm.

Specifically, he said the alleged harms over shadow flicker – the strobe-like effect from turbine blades during some sunny days — and low-frequency sound presented by the plaintiffs was “speculative at best.” He also said that aesthetic concerns were not enough to constitute a nuisance.

The wind farm began producing power by 2015. It is owned by First Reserve Corp. and operated by Apex Clean Energy Inc.

Largest Solar Power Plant in the World Set for Nevada

SolarReserve recently announced what the company’s calling the world’s largest solar power plant, to be built 225 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The facility could produce between 1,500 MW and 2,000 MW of energy, comparable to Hoover Dam, reported The Associated Press.

SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said the solar array known as Sandstone Energy X would produce power for a million homes in California. Construction costs would reach $5 billion.

The AP noted Sandstone Energy X, which would have 10 towers, would resemble Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a three-tower solar thermal plant 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas. That facility is co-owned by NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy and Google.

SolarReserve officials noted the Sandstone project has the additional ability to store heat without backup fuels or batteries, and can generate electricity in darkness.

Air Quality Project Breaks Ground at Columbia Energy Center

Alliant Energy officially broke ground on a planned air quality control project at the 1,023-MW coal-fired Columbia Energy Center in Pardeeville, Wisconsin.

Alliant, along with Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric, plan to install a selective catalytic reduction system at Unit 2 at a cost of $110 million. Construction will last through the end of 2018.

When the installation is finished, the SCR system should reduce nitrogen oxides by at least 50 percent.

The project is one of several air-quality control upgrades at the plant. Two years ago, the plant received a $589 million air quality control system that reduced sulfur dioxide by 94 percent and mercury by greater than 90 percent. That system was engineered and constructed by Black & Veatch, and was the company’s largest EPC project at the time.

1,000-MW Gas Plant Proposed In Michigan

Indeck has officially proposed a 1,000-MW, $1 billionnatural gas power plant for Niles, Michigan.

The proposed plant would open by 2020, according to the South Bend Tribune.

“Current market conditions are ideal for this type of investment and Indeck Energy believes that the timing is right to move this project forward,” said Michael DuBois, Indeck vice president. “There is a growing need for energy in Michigan created by the decommissioning of dirtier and less-efficient coal-fired plants in the region. These conditions, as well as access to existing natural gas transmission lines and a distribution network throughout the Midwest make this location and time ideal for development of the Indeck Niles Energy Center.”

Indeck originally proposed construction of a power plant in the city’s industrial park 15 years ago, but abandoned those plans when rising natural gas prices made the project financially unfeasible.

Entergy Proposes 993-MW Combined-Cycle Plant in Texas

Entergy Texas announced plans for a $937.3 million, 993-MW combined-cycle gas plant to be built north of Conroe, Texas.

The plant would serve 434,000 Entergy customers in 27 southeastern Texas counties primarily to the north and east of Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Construction would begin in early 2019 and the facility would enter service in 2021. Plans have just been filed with the Texas Public Utility Commission.

The Entergy Texas region, which operates as an integrated monopoly outside of the primary, deregulated Texas grid, receives power from outside states and operates as part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator grid.

Xcel, NextEra Commission 140 MWs of New Solar

NextEra Energy Resources and Xcel Energy officially celebrated the commissioning of the new Roswell and Chaves County Solar Energy Centers.

Together, the centers feature 600,000 solar panels with trackers that follow the sun from east to west to maximize energy production. The two will generate 140 MW, or enough for over 40,000 homes.

NextEra developed and built the projects and will own and operate them.