Electric Power news briefs, June 6

Corn Products International ... Alliant Energy Resources ... Argo Power ... US Army ... Global Solar Energy ... Alliant Data Systems ... Excelergy ... PowerGen ... LG&E ... American Superconductor ... Space Environment Center


Alliant Energy Resources Inc., a nonutility subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Corn Products International Inc. have agreed to build a $415 million natural gas-fired, combined cycle, 750-Mw merchant power plant to be called Argo Power LLC near Chicago. The partners expect the majority of the project to be financed through nonrecourse debt to be incurred by Argo Power LLC. The plant will be constructed on land owned in Bedford Park and Summit, Ill., by Corn Products International. Groundbreaking is scheduled for summer 2001, with expected completion set for 2003 subject to regulatory approvals. The final agreement is subject to the receipt of necessary regulatory and Enterprise Zone approvals. Alliant Energy Executive Vice-Pres. Jim Hoffman indicated the project is expected to generate 15-20% return on equity after-tax over the project's life.

The US Army has taken delivery of the first of 10 solar-powered electric generating systems from Global Solar Energy Inc., Tucson, under a nearly $500,000 contract. The system will be used in "Operation Strong Angel"�an exercise in Hawaii involving the armed forces of seven countries. When connected to each other and exposed to sunlight, the panels are designed to produce up to 2,800 w of electrical power. The system will be put to use at the Strong Angel Civil-Military Operations Center where it will supply electricity for computers, telephones, radios and floodlights. Global Solar is 67% owned by UniSource Energy Corp. and 33% by ITN Energy Systems, Wheat Ridge, Colo.

Alliance Data Systems Corp., Dallas, has chosen Excelergy Corp.'s ABP 3000 as the billing and customer information system to support its application service solution for the deregulating energy marketplace. Alliance manages nearly 74 million consumer accounts and processes more than two billion transactions annually. In the utility industry, the company offers its clients an end-to-end solution for acquiring, managing, and retaining customers. Among its services are account acquisition, customer care, customer information systems, statement generation, payment processing, and database marketing.

PowerGen shareholders Monday approved the company's proposed $3.2 billion acquisition of Kentucky-based LG&E Energy Corp., announced Feb. 28. The approval by PowerGen shareholders comes a few days after the UK secretary of state for trade and industry confirmed that he would not refer the deal to the Competition Commission. Completion of the deal now rests mainly on the approval of LG&E shareholders and various state and federal regulatory approvals. The Kentucky Public Service Commission gave its approval for the deal last month.

American Superconductor Corp., Westborough, Mass., has acquired the assets of Integrated Electronics LLC, for shares of American Superconductor common stock and cash valued at about $2 million. Integrated Electronics designs, develops, and manufactures power electronic converters that utilize power semiconductors. Integrated Electronics has been one of American Superconductor's codevelopers and suppliers of advanced power electronic converter modules for use in the company's superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) product line. American Superconductor says it anticipates installing more 1,000 of the new power electronic modules in its SMES product line during the next 2 years. American Superconductor estimates that the market for power electronic converters today exceeds $1 billion. Power electronic converters are widely used in the electric power, transportation, industrial, and defense sectors to condition and control power. Industry experts estimate that more than 20% of all power generated in the US goes through power electronic converters and that this amount will grow along with the increased demand for more reliable power. The company says its focus will remain on high-end applications, primarily at power levels greater than 100 kw.

The Space Environment Center Monday said solar activity is expected to be at moderate to high levels through Wednesday. Three significant flares were observed from three different regions between Apr. 21 and May 12. Under moderate-level activity, high-latitude power systems can be affected, while corrective action is required by ground control to maintain spacecraft operations. The geomagnetic field was expected to continue at unsettled to active conditions through Monday. Mostly quiet to unsettled levels are expected Tuesday. Unsettled with occasional active periods are likely Wednesday due to a favorably positioned coronal hole.

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