Westinghouse Files for Bankruptcy Protection
Westinghouse Electric Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month.
Though parent company Toshiba had promised it would ensure new nuclear development projects undertaken by Westinghouse would continue, including the Virgil C. Summer nuclear station in South Carolina and the Alvin W. Votgle nuclear plant in Georgia, it is not yet clear how the bankruptcy filing would ultimately affect construction of those projects, both of which are three years overdue.
In a media statement, Westinghouse indicated the restructuring was due to financial and construction challenges with its nuclear power plant projects.
The New York Times indicated the nuclear construction projects undertaken by Scana Energy and Georgia Power may face new contract terms, lawsuits and losses. Cost estimates for Sumner and Votgle are $1 billion to $1.3 billion higher than budgeted, and could exceed $8 billion.
Experts indicated the bankruptcy might terminate the construction contracts and force Scana and Georgia Power to find another builder. Stan Wise, chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, said the utilities developing the Votgle station would need to re-evaluate the project and determine whether it would make sense to continue.
Black & Veatch to Provide EPC Services for FPL
Black & Veatch announced it will provide engineering, procurement and construction services for four solar developments for Florida Power & Light.
The Barefoot Bay, Blue Cypress and Loggerhead solar plants are being constructed in the Vero Beach area, while the Hammock plant will be built just east of Fort Myers. The project sites range from 400 to 600 acres with a combined total of more than one million solar panels to be installed, and will begin operations by the end of 2017.
The four are part of the eight solar projects FPL announced it will build, each with a capacity of 74.5 MW.
Black & Veatch built three 74.5 MW solar developments for FPL in 2016, which tripled the utility’s solar capacity.
Sale of FitzPatrick Plant to Exelon Finalized
Exelon officially completed its purchase of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, New York.
Entergy Corp. sold the 850-MW facility for $110 million. Entergy had originally planned to shut down the plant.
The state of New York authorized up to $7.6 billion in ratepayer subsidies to keep FitzPatrick, as well as two other nuclear plants in the state, operational.
Exelon named Joseph Pacher, former site vice president at R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, as the site vice president for FitzPatrick. Brian Sullivan, former FitzPatrick site vice president, was retained by Entergy.
Exelon noted the acquisition is part of the company’s broader effort to preserve the nation’s existing nuclear facilities.
Enel Completes 400-MW Wind Farm
Enel Green Power North America has begun operations at the 400-MW Cimarron Bend wind facility in Clark County, Kansas.
The $610 million project has a long-term power purchase agreement with Google and the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities.
“We are pleased to announce the entry into service of this major wind farm, which is also the first in Enel’s US portfolio to generate energy for a corporate off-taker,” said Rafael Gonzalez, Head of EGPNA. “Thanks to this significant achievement, in Kansas we are now managing our largest portfolio of North American wind farms and we are further strengthening EGPNA REP, the joint venture which is supporting our dynamic, sustainable growth in North America.”
EGPNA also owns four additional wind facilities totaling 1.1 GW in Kansas.
Toshiba America Energy Systems President and CEO Departs
Toshiba announced Ali Azad, president and CEO of Toshiba America Energy Systems Corporation, departed the company effective March 31. Though the company thanked Azad and wished him well, there was no further information.
Toshiba America Energy Systems Corporation was created on April 1, 2015, to integrate the company’s thermal, hydropower and nuclear steam turbine and generator business for both Toshiba and its Westinghouse subsidiary. Azad was the division’s only president and CEO.
The news came the same week Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection after $6 billion in losses from nuclear development. Though the company reasserted it would complete new nuclear development projects undertaken by Westinghouse, experts were uncertain how the bankruptcy would affect future development.
Wartsila to Supply 28-MW CHP Plant to Canada
Wartsila announced it will supply a 28-MW combined heat and power plant to the Meliadine Gold Mine project in Canada for owners Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.
The order includes five Wartsila 34DF dual-fuel engines running light fuel oil or natural gas. Wartsila’s scope includes the power generation and CHP equipment supply, plant commissioning and training. The plant is expected to become operational during the first quarter of 2019.
The power plant will provide baseload power for this new mine and mining facilities located in the Nunavut Territory of Canada. In addition to supplying electricity for the equipment and operations, the plant will also capture heat from the engines and engine exhaust and deliver that heat to the underground mine and buildings.
Initially the power plant will run on light-fuel oil, but natural gas may be available in the future.
Burns & McDonnell, Tampa Electric Complete Solar Plant
Burns & McDonnell announced it has completed the Big Bend Solar project, which will beowned and operated by Tampa Electric.
The 23-MW facility, built adjacent to the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, is now the single-largest source of solar power in the Tampa area. Big Bend features over 202,000 solar panels with motors that can track the movement of the sun.
“The Big Bend Solar Plant is significant in proving utility-scale PV is cost competitive with traditional generation for regulated utilities,” said Matt Brinkman, Burns & McDonnell principal and national director of solar projects for the firm. “Solar costs have decreased dramatically.”
Public Service Co. of New Mexico to Retire Two Coal Units
Officials from Public Service Co. of New Mexico reconfirmed their commitment to shutting down two of the four units at the San Juan Generating Station in the Four Corners area of the state.
Additionally, the utility has yet to decide whether it will operate the remaining two units beyond 2022, the Associated Press reported.
Pahl Shipley, a spokesman for the utility, said it will take some time to determine how President Trump’s order to review the Clean Power Plan will impact its business.
Public Service Co. of New Mexico reached an agreement with federal and state regulators to close the two units in the face of pressure to limit emissions.
Duke Energy Sues Insurance Companies for Coal Ash Costs
Duke Energy announced it has filed legal claims against 30 insurance companies due to liabilities associated with coal ash.
The suit, filed in association with the state of North Carolina and Mecklenburg County, claims breach of contract for failure to pay claims for coal ash costs at 14 plants in North Carolina and one in South Carolina.
Duke and Carolina Power & Light, which was eventually absorbed by Duke, purchased excess-level liability insurance from the companies from 1973 through 1986. The suit asserts the policies provide coverage for Duke’s coal ash liabilities, and that Duke’s coal ash has been infiltrating groundwater “over a long period of time.”
NTE Energy Wins PUC Approval for Gas Plant
NTE Energy announced the company has received final approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for its proposed Reidsville Energy Center, a 500-MW gas-fired facility to be built in Rockingham County, North Carolina.
The company noted it’s currently negotiating long-term power purchase agreements with several entities in the Carolinas, and is in the study phase of interconnecting the facility with Duke Energy’s transmission system. The facility also needs to obtain the final permits and approvals.Construction is slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2017, with commercial operations in 2021.
NTE Energy is also constructing the 475-MW Kings Mountain Energy Center in Cleveland County, North Carolina, which is expected to reach commercial operations in 2018.
Xcel’s Plans for New Wind Generation Grow
Xcel Energy announced it has proposed the development of 11 new wind facilities in seven states, which would add 3,380 MW in new wind generation.
The proposals would boost the utility’s wind portfolio by 50 percent, and increase wind’s share of Xcel’s total generation to 35 percent.
The proposals, a mix of owned wind farms and power purchase agreements, would come online through 2021. Xcel plans to use federal production tax credits to secure low wind energy prices.
Xcel had already announced 1,500 MW of new wind generation last week in the Midwest. The new developments are proposed for New Mexico, Texas and Colorado.