Coal, On-Site Power, Renewables

Industry News

Issue 12 and Volume 121.

Empire District Announces 800 MW of Wind

The Empire District Electric Company announced it would develop an additional ٨٠٠ MW of wind in its service territory, which covers six states.

The new wind generation is expected to be established by the end of 2020. Requests for approvals have been filed in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

In a press release, Empire said improved wind turbine technology and lower costs helped drive this additional development, which is expected to more than triple the amount of its wind generation.

Additionally, the Joplin Globe reported Empire’s Missouri application included the eventual closure of its 213-MW Asbury coal-fired power plant near Asbury, Missouri. No timetable was given for its closure.

SCE Proposes Methods to Meet Climate Goals

Southern California Edison proposed a suggested framework designed to help the state of California meet its strict emissions reduction goals.

SCE incorporated a dramatic increase of carbon-free electrical generation from 40 percent today to 80 percent by 2030. The utility said large-scale wind, solar and hydroelectric power would be used in conjunction with energy storage and distributed rooftop solar.

Other components of the framework include growing the use of electric vehicles, including passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles, to more than 7 million by 2030, and increasing electrification of commercial and residential space and water heating.

The framework also supports California’s cap-and-trade system.

Military Spending on Microgrids to Surpass $1B

The U.S. military is set to embrace microgrids in a big way, according to a new report.

Navigant research predicted microgrid spending by the Department of Defense is set to grow from $453.4 million in 2017 to $1.4 billion in 2026.

Navigant indicated microgrid use will reduce the military’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel imports and improve physical and cyber energy security. Additionally, microgrids can help reduce the $4 billion the military spends annually on its 523 installations and 280,000 buildings.

“The DOD has played a remarkably consistent role in commercializing new technologies that provide tremendous social benefits within the larger civilian realm of society, including microgrids,” said Peter Asmus, principal research analyst at Navigant Research.

Navigant noted the Trump administration’s desire to increase military spending as well as tensions with North Koria could also provide more opportunities for microgrid investment.

NextEra Plans Two 20-MW Solar Facilities in Maine

NextEra is in the planning stages of two solar facilities in Main, each of which will have a capacity of 20 MW, the Press Herald reported.

One of these would be on 150 acres in the town of Clinton, while the second would be on 240 acres in Fairfield. The Clinton facility is being developed under the name of Winslow Solar, a subsidiary of NextEra.

Both facilities are set for activation by the end of 2019.

Additionally, the Press Herald said NextEra is planning a solar facility of an unspecified size in Moscow, and a 75-MW facility in Farmington.

New Mexico Seeks More Generation

New Mexico’s largest electric provider on Monday put out a request for proposals for hundreds of megawatts of power to fill a future void as the utility plans ahead for weaning itself from coal-fired generation over the next several years.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico plans to close two units at the San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico before the end of the year to meet a federal mandate aimed at reducing haze-causing pollution in the region. By 2022, the rest of the plant could close.

In an announcement late last week, the utility said it is looking for a combination of sources that can ensure the reliability of a system that serves a half-million customers around New Mexico. It pegged the amount at 456 megawatts.

Vistra, Dynegy Announce Merger

Previous speculation concerning Vistra and Dynegy was on the money, as the two companies announced they plan to merge.

The boards of directors of both companies approved an all-stock merger plan that would give Dynegy shareholders 0.652 shares of Vistra Energy stock for each share of Dynegy common stock they own, creating a single company projected to have a combined market capitalization of over $10 billion.

In the joint press release, the companies said the merger would combine Dynegy’s generating capacity and retail footprint with Vistra’s integrated ERCOT model, creating the lowest-cost integrated power company in the industry and position the company as the leading integrated retail and generation platform throughout key competitive power markets in the U.S.

Wind Development Reaches Highest Recorded Levels

A combined 29,634 MW in new U.S. wind facilities are either under construction or in advanced development, which is the highest level recorded by the American Wind Energy Association.

That total is also a 27 percent gain in the amount of wind capacity under development as of the third quarter of 2016, the association said in its U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2017 Market Report. Approximately 30 percent of the new construction is in the Midwest, with another 23 percent in Texas, 20 percent in Mountain West states and 18 percent in Plains states.

Wind developers finished 534 MW of wind capacity during the third quarter, bringing year-to-date installations to 2,892 MW. Of that total, 98 percent was installed by GE Renewable Energy, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Vestas.

Grand River Dam Authority Dedicates New Unit

Officials with the Grand River Dam Authority dedicated its new power unit, which incorporates the first J-class turbine to become operational in the Americas, according to Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems.

The $500 million project at the Grand River Energy Center began construction in January 2015 after the adoption of GRDA’s new, long-term electric generation plan. GRDA’s Unit 3, which replaced a coal-fired generator, includes an M501J advanced-class gas turbine, the first to be constructed by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems at its Savannah Machinery Works facility in Georgia, and an MHPS steam turbine.

The MHPS turbine was delivered on time to the site and achieved First Fire on March 14 in its first attempt. During the startup process, the M501J turbine exceeded its performance guarantee and GRDA was able to sell power to the grid ahead of schedule.

“We’re proud to announce that the first J-series in the Americas beat our performance guarantee and achieved 62 percent combined cycle efficiency. GRDA now owns the first 60 hertz combined cycle power plant in the world to make this claim,” said Paul Browning, president and CEO of MHPS Americas.

GE, NYPA Partner on “World’s First Digital Utility”

GE announced a wide-ranging software and professional services agreement with the New York State Power Authority to advance NYPA’s goal to be the world’s first fully digital utility.

NYPA intends to work with GE to explore the digitalization of every aspect of its operations, from its 16 generating facilities and 1,400 miles of electricity transmission network, to the more than 1,000 public buildings it monitors throughout the state. NYPA’s goal is to use digital solutions to optimize its entire electricity value network, from generation to consumption, for reliability, affordability, and the lowest possible carbon footprint.

Connecticut Lawmakers Pass Nuclear Bill

Connecticut lawmakers have given final legislative approval to a bill that could potentially change the rules for how the Millstone Nuclear Power Station sells the electricity it generates.

The House voted 75-66 on Thursday in favor of the bill, which allows state regulators to determine whether the power should be sold on the clean energy market like solar, wind and hydroelectric.

The bill previously passed the Senate and now moves to the governor.

Eastern Connecticut legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, praised the bill’s passage, saying it will help protect jobs and solidify the region’s economy. Dominion Energy, which owns the power plant in Waterford, has warned it needs the legislation to help ensure the financial viability of the plant.

Michigan Regulators Approve Two Gas Plants

State regulators have approved a utility’s plan to build two natural gas-fueled power plants in the Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Wednesday endorsed Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp.›s plan to build the plants in Negaunee and Baraga Townships at a cost of $277 million.

The plants that would produce a combined 183 megawatts are expected to go into service in 2019 and replace the Presque Isle Power Plant, which is scheduled to close in 2020.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week cut by nearly $23 million the costs associated with the Presque Isle power plant that can be passed on to Upper Peninsula electric ratepayers.

Siemens Gamesa to Provide 67 Turbines to Wind Project

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy will supply wind turbines to Nordlicht, a 281-MW wind project being developed west of the city of Tromsø in northern Norway. The order calls for 67 SWT-DD-130 OptimaFlex wind turbines rated at 4.2 MW.

Siemens Gamesa will also provide service and maintenance for more than 20 years.

Nordlicht is the largest onshore wind project being developed in Europe this year. Once commissioned in summer 2019, it will supply clean energy for approximately 50,000 Norwegian households.

The major investor in the project is the German pension fund Ärzteversorgung Westfalen-Lippe, the transaction has been structured and is managed by Prime Capital. ÄVWL is an institution of the Medical Association of Westphalia-Lippe and is one of Germany’s largest occupational pension funds.