Electric Power news briefs, September 19

TransAlta Corp. ... Bayer AG ... Dow Chemical Co. ... Nova Chemicals Corp ... Acme Electric Corp. ... Key Components LLC ... HoustonStreet Inc. ... BayCorp Holdings Ltd. ... Entergy Corp. ... The Shaw Group Inc. ... Rural Utilities Service ... National Power Cooperative ... Oglethorpe Power Corp. ... Unitil Corp. ... Commonwealth Edison Co. ... PG&E Corp. ... Keith Cos. Inc. ... Ocean Power Corp. ... Hydrogen Performance Technologies Inc. ... International Fuel Cells ... and Toshiba Corp

TransAlta Corp., Calgary, says it will invest $400 million (Can.) in a 650 Mw cogeneration power plant at Sarnia, Ont. The project will combine 440 Mw of new capacity with 210 Mw of existing capacity and will be the largest plant of its kind in Canada. The plant is expected to be on line by October 2002 and will provide about 250 Mw of power and steam to Bayer AG, Dow Chemical Co., and Nova Chemicals Corp. The remaining output will be available for sale to other industrial customers. TransAlta currently operates more than 8,000 Mw of generating capacity in North America, Mexico, and Australia. The company sold its southern Alberta retail and power distribution business last spring to UtiliCorp United Inc., Kansas City, Mo., for $645 million (Can.) and is now building and acquiring generating capacity in other markets.

Acme Electric Corp. said based upon an updated forecast of improved sales, the board of directors has requested Ernst & Young for an updated fairness opinion of the consideration to be received by Acme's shareholders under the previously announced merger with Key Components LLC. On May 26, 2000 Acme entered into a definitive merger agreement with Key, under which Key will acquire Acme for $9/share in cash. The transaction is valued at about $56.7 million, including assumption of $11 million of Acme debt. Based principally upon ongoing discussions with a large existing customer, Acme's management said it is projecting substantially increased sales at its power distribution products division. Acme expects to receive Ernst & Young's report by Sept, 25, 2000. While asserting that Acme is in breach of the merger agreement, and reserving all of its rights thereunder, Acme said Key Components has agreed to extend the termination date to Nov. 10, 2000, subject to certain conditions.

HoustonStreet Inc., Portsmouth, NH, said it will launch its European internet trading operations Sept. 27, initially provide traders with a single, pan-European marketplace for buying and selling electricity. The company will roll out the platform to different European regions in stages, beginning with the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. HoustonStreet is a majority-owned subsidiary of BayCorp Holdings Ltd.

Entergy Corp.and The Shaw Group Inc. said Entergy's nonutility wholesale operating group and Shaw will sign a definitive agreement creating EntergyShaw, LLC, a new company that will provide management, engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning services to build electric power plants worldwide. On June 2, Entergy and Shaw announced the signing of a letter of intent to form the new company. Jim Earley, a senior vice-president of Shaw, has been appointed president. Over the next several years, the new venture is expected to manage the construction of up to $6 billion in power projects.

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) said it has made a finding of no significant environmental impact with respect to a request from National Power Cooperative for assistance to finance the construction of a 500 Mw combustion turbine plant in Van Wert County, Ohio. The RUS also said it proposes to prepare an environmental assessment related to possible financing assistance to Oglethorpe Power Corp. to construct a 652 Mw simple cycle combustion turbine in Talbot or Harris county, Ga.

Unitil Corp., Hampton, NH, said its wholly owned subsidiary, Unitil/Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co. (FG&E) filed a for a 11.5% gas rate increase with the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Telecommunications (MDTE). Pending MDTE approval, the proposed rates will go into effect from Nov.1, 2000-April 30, 2001. A typical residential heating customer using 146 therms/month of gas will see an increase of $14.11. Similar impacts will be seen for commercial and industrial customers, the company said.

Unicom Corp. subsidiary Commonwealth Edison Co., Chicago, reported Monday the company reached a tentative pension agreement with the leadership of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 15 in negotiations that ended on Saturday evening. The union, which represents approximately 7,500 ComEd employees, will now take the pension package to its membership for a ratification vote. The process is expected to take 4-6 weeks. If approved, the agreement will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 1999, excluding the items that have a different date specified. The agreement ends nearly 13 months of negotiations.

PG&E Corp.'s National Energy Group has selected the ESI divisions of the Keith Cos. Inc., Costa Mesa, Calif., to provide engineering, design, and field support services including site selection, licensing, permitting, and coordinating connection to the local utilities. ESI is currently providing services for three peaking power projects in Ohio and two sites in California, Keith officials reported. The first projects were completed in Ohio, while additional projects are now under way in California.

Ocean Power Corp. said it has agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Hydrogen Performance Technologies Inc. (HyPerTec), a developer of small proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems. Ocean Power will receive 51% of the shares of common stock of HyPerTec in exchange for a limited interest in Ocean Power's advanced fuel cell technology licenses, trade secrets, and research and development support. This agreement is subject to the execution of definitive contracts.

International Fuel Cells, a unit of United Technologies Corp., and Toshiba Corp. reported plans to form a joint venture to develop and market stationary fuel cell technology in Japan. The joint venture will be 51% owned by Toshiba and will incorporate Toshiba's fuel cell development activities in Japan and focus on accelerating development of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technologies and on increasing sales of the PC25(TM) fuel cell power system. This year, Toshiba manufactured 30 kw and 1 kw PEM fuel cell test plants. IFC has supplied fuel cells to for every manned US space flight since Apollo. It also developed the PC25 fuel cell power plant, a 200 kw commercial power system. More than 200 PC25 systems have been delivered since 1991, achieving more than 3.5 million hours of operation.

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