Energy Storage, Gas, Renewables

Industry News

Issue 7 and Volume 122.

New Jersey Approves $300M Annually to Rescue Nuclear Industry

Legislation that would authorize $300 million annually to rescue New Jersey›s nuclear energy industry — a request for financial help made by the state›s largest utility company — was signed into law.

New Jersey Approves $300M Annually to Rescue Nuclear Industry

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy alongside lawmakers at a solar array in central New Jersey also signed a measure aimed at strengthening the state’s renewable energy goals. The nuclear measure will be funded by ratepayers; the cost of the renewable energy legislation is unclear.

The nuclear legislation stems from a request from Public Service Enterprise Group for financial assistance for its three nuclear plants, which supply about 40 percent of the state’s electricity. PSEG says the plants might not be viable in two years given other cheaper fuels. The company’s president and CEO, Ralph Izzo, also points to the nearly 2,000 jobs that would be at stake if the plants shuttered.

Project Would Push MidAmerican Energy to 100 Percent Renewables

MidAmerican Energy Company’s proposed 591-MW Wind XII project isn’t just big – it would allow the company to become the first in the nation to generate renewable energy equal to 100 percent of its customers’ usage on an annual basis.

The company announced the $922 million development the same day it formally filed for approval with the Iowa Utilities Board. If approved, the project would be finished by late 2020.

Wind XII follows other massive wind investments, including Wind XI, which will consist of 338 MW in two separate wind farms, and various repowering projects.

Salt River Project, AES to Build Standalone Energy Storage Project

Salt River Project and AES announced the start of construction for what will become the first standalone energy storage project for Arizona.

The 10-MW project will be built in Chandler and incorporate energy storage technology provided by Fluence. When finished, it will provide peaking capacity for the grid.

Additionally, SRP officials hope to use the project to learn more about energy storage to prepare to implement even larger energy storage projects in the future. Arizona regulators are currently evaluating steps to transform its energy infrastructure, including proposals for as much as 3GW of energy storage by 2030.

Southern Power Acquires Tenth Wind Project

Southern Power announced it has acquired the 100-MW Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility from Roaring Fork Wind, a partnership between Renewable Energy Systems Americas and Vestas.

The facility is under development in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, and is expected to enter operations in the fourth quarter of 2019.

RES will continue to provide construction duties with Vestas contributing 29 turbines.

Power generated will be sold to the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation.

Wildhorse Mountain will be Southern’s fourth wind development in Oklahoma and tenth nationwide.

Including Wildhorse, Southern’s wind fleet now consists of 1,600 MW.

Fossil Fuel Use for Power Generation Falls to Lowest Level Since 1994

Driven by massive declines in coal, overall fossil fuel use in electric generation fell to the lowest level since 1994, the Energy Information Administration reported.

Total petroleum, natural gas and coal use fell to 22.5 quadrillion BTUs last year.

Coal represented the majority of the decline, as its use fell to its lowest level since 1982. Though petroleum use represents a relatively small portion of power generation, its use declined even more to the lowest since at least 1949, the earliest year for that data.

Natural gas use had been increasing over the last two decades, but even it fell slightly in 2017 behind its record high set in 2016.

Settlement Ends Lawsuit with Illinois Coal Plants

President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly settled a nearly decade-old lawsuit that alleged the owners of some Illinois coal plants evaded clean air laws.

The six NRG plants have been shut down, cleaned up or converted to burn natural gas, The Chicago Tribune reported. The company tentatively agreed earlier this year to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois $500,000 each in fines.

The legal settlement made official May 10 adds a federal court order to ensure the shuttered plants stay closed and the operational ones have pollution-control equipment installed.

Great Plains, Westar Merger Approved

The second time was the charm, as Great Plains Energy and Westar Energyreceived regulatory approval to merge.

The combined company will be known as Evergy, which blends “ever” and “energy,” according to the companies. Evergy will serve 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri and own 13,000 MW of generation once the merger closes in early June.

For now, Evergy will continue to operate Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light from its headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri.

Originally, Great Plains Energy proposed a $12.2 billion purchase of Westar, which was estimated to be $4.9 billion more than the total value of Westar’s assets.

Utility to Modernize Unit, Retire Other

Tampa Electric announced it received approval to spend $853 million to switch one of its four coal units at its Big Bend Power Station to gas, but another will be shut down after ٤٨ years of operations.

The refurbishment will install combined-cycle technology to Unit 1, bringing that unit’s capacity from 445.5 MW up to 1,090 MW. Unit 2, which also has a capacity of 445.5 MW, will be shut down in 2021.

Tampa Electric to Modernize Big Bend Unit, Retire the Other

The move, as well as the addition of 10 new solar projects, will significantly alter Tampa Electric’s energy mix from its current 67 percent natural gas, 24 percent coal and nine percent other sources.

By 2023, that mix will be 75 percent natural gas, 12 percent coal, sevent percent solar and six percent other sources.

Caterpillar Expands G3500-H Series with Lower-Cost Generator

Caterpillar Inc. announced the G351 2H, the third of the H-Series product line now available for operation on natural gas fuel. This generator set is currently offered at 1500 kWe power output at 50 Hz and 60 Hz.

Caterpillar said the G3512H offers electrical efficiency of up to 44.6 percent/60Hz and 44.9 percent/50Hz and decreased maintenance costs. Recent product developments – including cuffed cylinder liners, updated valve stem sealing, and increased valve train lubrication – have minimized the number of maintenance events and reduced oil consumption over previous levels.

Additionally, the new model features an open combustion chamber design, which allows use of a low-pressure fuel system (1.5 to 5 psi/ 10.2 to 34.5 kPa) that facilitates maximum performance on pipeline natural gas. The major overhaul period of the G3512H is 80,000 hours with an in-frame maintenance interval at 40,000 hours.

DOE Seeks Research on Improving Coal Plants

The U.S. Department of Energy issued another request for information regarding coal, but this time, they’re targeting all coal plants.

The RFI seeks to improve the efficiency, reliability and flexibility of existing coal facilities, with the stated objective of leading research and technology development that promotes the advancement of coal-fired power plants. The DOE hopes to achieve higher efficiency, better operational flexibility and lower emissions.

The end goal of the RFI is to enable wide-scale retrofits of generating units.

Responses to the RFI are due by June 18, and can be submitted to [email protected].

Earlier this month, the DOE issued an RFI for the development of small-scale, modular coal power plants, with responses due by June 8.

NTE Energy Completes Middletown Energy Center

NTE Energy, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas and Ohio officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Middletown Energy Center in Middletown, Ohio.

The facility, constructed, owned and operated by NTE, has a capacity of 475 MW. NTE’s total investment in the project exceeded $600 million.

“We chose MHPS as our technology provider for Middletown because they have the most reliable fleet of advanced-class gas turbines and a great reputation in our industry,” said Seth Shortlidge, NTE’s president and CEO. “Due to our power plant’s outstanding fuel efficiency, the electricity we produce will be some of the lowest cost in the PJM regional transmission authority. This project has created over 600 jobs, contributing to the tax base of Middletown, and helping power economic growth in the State of Ohio.”

Dominion to Help Fund GE Hitachi’s SMR

Dominion Energy has joined in the race to develop a small modular nuclear reactor by providing funding to GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s 300-MW BWRX-300 project.

Dominion’s seed money will help fund further work that could lead to commercializing the technology, though the company does not plan to build an SMR at any of its nuclear stations at this time.

“Engaging customers is critical to product development, and we are thrilled that Dominion will invest in our new SMR to advance its commercialization,” said Jon Ball, executive vice president of Nuclear Plant Projects for GEH. “The BWRX-300 represents a significant improvement in the economics of new nuclear, an imperative for the long-term viability of the industry. It is more efficient, simpler, safer and needs a fraction of the footprint compared to the current fleet of light water reactors.”