Gas, On-Site Power, Renewables

Industry News

Issue 4 and Volume 122.

FPL Plans Four Solar
Plants, Gas Plant Upgrade

Florida Power & Light just wrapped up development of nearly 600 MW of solar, but the utility just announced plans for four more plants.

FPL Plans Four Solar Plants, Gas Plant Upgrade

The new sites under development include FPL Interstate Solar Energy Center in St. Lucie County, FPL Miami-Dade Solar Energy Center in Miami-Dade County, FPL Pioneer Trail Solar Energy Center in Volusia County and FPL Sunshine Gateway Solar Energy Center in Columbia County.

Just like the previous eight solar facilities FP&L completed this year, each of the new facilities will have capacities of 74.5 MW.

All four are set to begin construction later this year for completion by mid-2019.

GenOn Sells 810-MW Gas Facility

GenOn, which filed for bankruptcy protection last June, has sold its 810-MW Hunterstown power generation facility for $520 million to Platinum Equity. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

Platinum Equity is seeking additional platform investments in the power generation market, as well as add-on opportunities for Hunterstown.

GenOn, a unit of NRG Energy that once held a fleet of gas, fuel oil and coal power stations totaling more than 15,300 MW, filed for bankruptcy as a result of $1.75 billion in debt.

NRG is not in bankruptcy, and will cut ties with GenOn after GenOn completes its bankruptcy process. NRG is contributing $261 million to fund GenOn’s restructuring.

Georgia Power Continues Coal Ash Cleanup

Georgia Power announced its closure of 29 coal ash ponds across the state continues, with five of ٢٩ coal ash ponds at ١١ current and former sites now completely emptied.

The utility expects to finish closure construction activities at an additional six ash ponds by the end of this year.

Georgia Power’s ash pond closure plans were designed to fully comply with the federal Coal Combustion Residuals Rule, as well as the more stringent requirements of Georgia›s state CCR Rule. Georgia was one of the first states in the country to develop its own rule regulating management and storage of CCR such as coal ash.

PSEG Canceling Nuclear Plant Capital Projects

New Jersey’s largest utility is canceling spending on capital projects at a nuclear plant because a $300 million taxpayer-funded financial bailout of the state’s nuclear industry has stalled in the Legislature.

Public Service Enterprise Group said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated Wednesday that it will halt the projects at the Salem nuclear plant in southern New Jersey. A spokesman said the spending covered efficiency and reliability maintenance.

PSEG says the decision comes after “recent postponements” of a vote on legislation to provide the financial rescue.  The bill, which has undergone several changes and was held during a recent session, includes clean-energy requirements that lawmakers say were sought by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

EPA Denies Permit Challenges of Coal Plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has denied an environmental group’s challenges to air pollution permits for a federal utility’s Tennessee coal-fired power plant.

The decision this week against the Sierra Club says the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 2017 permit made substantial changes on pollution monitoring. It says that even if those changes weren’t made, the Sierra Club still didn’t show that the monitoring was inadequate to assure compliance.

Among other issues, the decision also says the group hasn’t shown that the permit, which was issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, is flawed.

Trump EPA Moves to Roll Back Coal Ash Rules

The Trump administration said Thursday it is rewriting Obama-era rules governing pollution from oil and gas operations and coal ash dumps, moves that opponents say will significantly weaken protections for human health and the environment.

The changes proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency are the latest in series of actions taken over the last year to roll back regulations opposed by the fossil-fuel industry. The agency said the revisions would save electric utilities $100 million per year in compliance costs, while oil and gas operators would reap up to $16 million in benefits by 2035.

Environmental advocates predicted the revisions would lead to dirtier air and water. Environmental groups said the Trump rollbacks would let large-scale polluters off the hook.

New Jersey Powers Up Plan for Offshore Wind Energy

New Jersey is powering up plans for offshore energy projects.

The state Board of Public Utilities has approved a plan to implement Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order to prepare the state for offshore wind developments.

The board formed a task force with the state Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies to ensure competition, competitive pricing, and economic benefits from wind energy projects.

It is preparing to solicit projects totaling 1,100 MW of electricity, which a board spokesman said is enough to power 540,000 homes.

The board also has suggested holding a regional roundtable on offshore wind with other agencies in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region to explore the potential benefits of collaboration.

Great Plains Purchases 444 MW of Wind Power

Great Plains Energy has purchased 444 MW of Wind Power from two separate wind farms under development in Kansas, Wind Power Monthly reported.

Great Plains Purchases  444 MW of Wind Power

The sites include the 200 MW Prairie Queen facility under development by EDP Renewables in Pratt County, and the 244 MW Pratt Wind Energy Center under development in Allen County by NextEra Energy.

Prairie Queen is expected to come online in May 2019, with Pratt slated for operations by the end of this year.

The two purchases push Great Plains Energy’s wind capacity to over 1.8 GW, or 25 percent of its generating portfolio. 

RES to Build Solar Project in West Texas

Renewable Energy Systems announced it will design and construct a 50 MW solar facility in West Texas. Formerly known as Lamesa II, the project is now known as Project Ivory Solar Facility.

RES recently sold the project to OCI Solar Power, which secured a power purchase agreement with CPS Energy.

BNB Renewable Energy Holdings began developing the project in 2013 and entered into a joint development with RES in 2015 to complete the project. Construction is set to begin in March with commercial operations set for November.

Utility Reaches Agreement Over Proposed Wind Farms

A utility has reached an agreement with rural electric cooperatives and others as it looks for regulatory approval to build two massive wind farms along the Texas-New Mexico border.

Xcel Energy on Tuesday announced the proposed deal with several parties in Texas, which would guarantee customers see a positive net benefit from the wind farms for the first 10 years of operation. The agreement also caps related construction costs that could be recovered through customer rates.

A similar agreement was reached in recent months with the New Mexico attorney general’s office, consumer advocates and others in New Mexico. It’s now up to utility regulators in both states to approve the $1.6 billion project. Final decisions could come as early as March.

Boldt and Sargent & Lundy Complete Gas Plant

The Westside Energy Partners, a project joint venture of The Boldt Company and Sargent & Lundy, announced construction is complete on the Westside Energy Station. The natural gas-fired generation station in Rochester, Minnesota is owned and operated by Rochester Public Utilities.

The construction replaced RPU’s 1949-vintage Silver Lake coal-fired plant.  It provides double the efficiency and significantly less carbon emissions than the former plant.

The plant uses five 34SG natural gas fired reciprocating internal combustion engines supplied by Finland’s Wartsila manufacturing.

The RICE units are a newer technology that provides quick-start emergency backup power generation. The units can go from sitting idle to providing power to the grid within two and a half minutes. Each unit is 9 MW, totaling 45 MW for the plant.

Vestas Remains Top Wind Developer

Developers commissioned just under 47 GW of onshore wind turbines globally in 2017, with four manufacturers accounting for 53 percent of the machines deployed. The four were Denmark’s Vestas, Spain’s Siemens Gamesa, China’s Goldwind and General Electric of the United States.

The latest figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that Vestas – number one in 2016 – maintained the top spot with ٧.٧GW of its onshore turbines commissioned, equivalent to a global market share of ١٦ percent. The statistics draw on BNEF›s global database of utility-scale wind projects and extensive information from the industry.

Siemens Gamesa, formed in 2016 from a merger of the wind business of German engineering giant Siemens and the Spanish turbine maker Gamesa, came second in onshore turbines, with 6.8GW commissioned. 

Calpine Puts California Gas Project on Hold

Calpine filed a request for an application suspension to California regulators, a move that would likely put the 225-MW Mission Rock Energy Center project on hold.

The company said in the application there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for the project, and specifically cited RFPs for renewable energy projects issued by Southern California Energy, the Ventura County Star reported.

“Since the Mission Rock Energy Center was proposed, California policies and programs relating to grid reliability — particularly local reliability and procurement — have been in transition,” Calpine said in the application to the California Energy Commission.

Earlier this year, the commission ordered Calpine to replace three natural gas plants with energy storage, including two 47-MW peaking plants in Feather River and Yuba and a 605-MW plant in Metcalf. None of the three have long-term contracts with utilities.