Electric Power news briefs, July 10

FirstEnergy Corp. � Columbia Gas Transmission � Columbia Gas Transmission � Puget Sound Energy Inc. � Maine Natural Gas � University of Southern Maine ... FPL ... Navopache

FirstEnergy Corp. and Columbia Gas Transmission, a unit of Columbia Energy Group, signed an agreement under which Columbia will provide natural gas transportation service to a 425 Mw power plant addition planned by FirstEnergy. The 10-year firm service arrangement will provide the Lorain, Ohio, plant with up to 140,000 dekatherms/day (Dth/d) during peak electricity usage�June through August�and a minimum of 40,000 Dth/d year-round. The Ohio Power Siting Board still must approve the route of the gas transmission line. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Located on a 16.5-acre site adjacent to the West Lorain generating station, the three new peaking units are scheduled to come on line in the summer of 2001. During construction of the new units, two existing 60-Mw, oil-fueled turbines at the West Lorain facility will be converted to burn natural gas as well as oil.

In a first of its kind filing, Columbia Gas Transmission, a wholly owned subsidiary of Columbia Energy Group, has proposed a "bid/offer'' system to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for selling capacity similar to on line natural gas commodity trading systems. The filing was made in response to customer concerns with the current process and is consistent with sentiments expressed in FERC's Order 637, which encourages companies to voluntarily submit "new and innovative approaches'' to capacity auctions, Columbia says. Carl Levander, vice-president of rates and regulatory policy, says the enhanced, internet-based interactive auction takes into consideration such current market conditions as daily fluctuations in capacity value and the increased level of auction activity due to shorter-term contracts.

In a letter sent to Bonneville Power Administrator and CEO Judi Johansen, Puget Sound Energy Inc. requested that its largest industrial customers receive an allocation of low-cost power from the region's federal hydropower system. It's important that all industries currently challenged by the run-up of wholesale market pricing receive an equitable sharing of the benefits of available federal power, said William A. Gaines, Puget Sound Energy vice-president of energy supply. He said industries need to be kept on an equal footing throughout the region. The company says the request is consistent with its long-standing belief that federal hydropower resources need to be more equitably allocated to the citizens and businesses throughout the region.

Maine Natural Gas, formerly CMP Natural Gas, reported it signed a long-term contract to provide natural gas delivery service to the University of Southern Maine campus located in Gorham, Me. MNG will provide gas to the University by early fall after finishing a low-pressure distribution system to the campus. MNG is a joint venture of CMP Group Inc. and Energy East Corp. Last year, Energy East and CMP Group announced a planned merger, but await final approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

FPL Energy LLC, Juno, Fla., the independent power production subsidiary of FPL Group Inc., reported it has purchased a 104-Mw, wind-driven electric generation facility in Minnesota from Enron Wind Corp. The Lake Benton II wind farm, in Pipestone County in southwest Minnesota, began operation in 1999. Electricity generated from the project is committed to Northern States Power Co. under a 25-year contract. The price was not disclosed. FPL Energy currently operates wind farms in five states with 974 Mw of capacity and net FPL Energy ownership of 587 Mw. FPL said it expects to add 500-1,000 Mw of wind energy projects to its portfolio by the end of 2001 and is considering projects in the West, Midwest, and Southwest. Wind power represents nearly 15% of the company's portfolio.

Navopache Electric Cooperative has selected PNM, Public Service Co. of New Mexico to provide more than 50 Mw of power to Navopache under a long-term wholesale contract. The 10-year contract with the coop is expected to increase PNM power sales by about 300,000 mw-hr/year, generating an additional $12 million/year in revenues for the company. Navopache, which serves more than 25,000 members in rural Arizona and New Mexico, was formerly a member of Plains Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative. Navopache elected to purchase its power from PNM when Plains merged with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association July 1.

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