Electric Power news briefs, October 23

Avista ... Petroleos Mexicanos ... Coral Energy ... Usinor Group ... Air Liquide SA ... Gaz de France Group ... Dominion Evantage ... AstroPower Inc. ... Southern Energy Inc. ... Sempra Energy Trading ... Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP ... Southern Union Co. ... CSG Systems ... RGS Energy Group ... H Power Corp. ... Shandong Huaneng Power Development Co. ... TotalFinaElf ... Gener ... Midland Cogeneration Venture ... UIL Holdings Corp. ... UtiliMAX.com ... Baldor Electric ... Ameren


Avista Corp. said Tom Matthews, chairman, president, and chief executive officer, will leave the company at the end of the year. Effective immediately, the board of directors has appointed Avista Executive Vice-Pres. Gary G. Ely, acting president and chief executive officer. The company said finding Matthew's replacement on the board will be discussed at the next regular meeting in November.

Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and Shell Oil affiliate Coral Energy reported the startup of a 103-mile, 24-in. bidirectional natural gas pipeline, connecting the Mexican state-owned oil company's transport system with that of Coral Energy from King Ranch, Tex., in Kleberg County, to Arguelles, Mexico. Coral Energy also invested $50 million to build a natural gas compression station in Falfurrias, Tex., as part of the project. Pemex now has seven connection stations located along the border with the US via which natural gas is exported. They are located at Naco, Sonora; Piedras Negras, Coahuila; Arguelles, Tamaulipas; two in Reynosa, Tamaulipas; and two in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.

Usinor Group, Air Liquide SA, and Gaz de France Group reported signing a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture to finance, construct, and ultimately operate a 300 million euro power plant fueled by recycled furnace gases at Usinor's steel and iron works in Dunkirk, France. The power plant will utilize a technology proposed by Air Liquide that uses natural gas to optimize the recycling of furnace gases to produce 600 Mw of electricity. Construction is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2001, and the plant is expected to begin operating by yearend 2003. Gaz de France Group, which will supply the natural gas, will receive a share of the energy produced.

The Printing Industries Association serving northern Kentucky and Ohio (PIANKO) has chosen Dominion Evantage, the energy services unit of Dominion Resources Inc., to implement an aggregation program when electricity competition begins Jan. 1, 2000. Under the agreement, association members who choose to be a part of the program are guaranteed they will not pay rates higher than those they would otherwise pay to their existing utilities, they said.. Dominion will solicit bids from suppliers for any pools, then handle negotiations and paperwork. Actual suppliers will be chosen in cooperation with the PIANKO board of directors.

AstroPower Inc., a supplier of solar electric power products, said the US government has filed a civil action alleging the company overbilled $2.3 million on government contracts. The suit also seeks treble damages and penalties. In the complaint, the government states from 1991-1995, AstroPower charged the government for costs of its commercial operations. AstroPower CEO Allen M. Barnett denied the allegations.

Southern Energy Inc. reported net income of $98 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2000, compared with $156 million for the same period in 1999. The third quarter 2000 includes $7 million from SE Finance, a business that will be transferred out of Southern Energy, and costs of about $28 million related to Southern Energy's transition to a separate, publicly traded company, it said. Last year's numbers includes a one-time gain of $78 million from sale of the UK supply business. On a pro forma basis, assuming 338.7 million shares outstanding after the completion of the initial public offering this quarter's reported net income equates to 29�/share.

Sempra Energy Trading,a unit of Sempra Energy, said it is relocating two coal-based synthetic fuel facilities from Kentucky Energy's site in Somerset, Ky., to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP's Pier IX export terminal in Newport News, Va. Under the 7-year agreement between Sempra Energy Trading and Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals (KMBT) Inc., Sempra Energy Trading has leased one acre at Pier IX and KMBT will operate the facilities. Sempra Energy Trading, which owns the facilities, expects them to be in operation at Pier IX by yearend. Following the relocation to Pier IX, Sempra Energy Trading's facilities will double output to about 2 million tonnes/year.

Southern Union Co. has signed a 5-year contract with CSG Systems Inc., a unit of CSG Systems International Inc., to provide statement production and distribution for 1 million gas utility customers in Texas and Missouri, CSG reported. Southern Union Gas and Missouri Gas Energy, natural gas operating divisions of Southern Union, will utilize CSG's facilities to easily reformat billing and other critical information, including internet applications.

RGS Energy Group Inc. reported net income of $13.2 million or 38�/share on revenue of $314.3 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2000, down from to net income of $16 million or 44�/ share on revenue of $280 million for the same period in 1999. The company said 2000 earnings reflect cooler weather, scheduled rate reductions, and increased purchase power expenses arising from industry restructuring and generation plant availability. Purchase power expenses were up $11.8 million, which included hedging activities for the summer peak electric load and replacement power for the scheduled 2000 Ginna Nuclear Power Plant refueling outage which started on Sept. 18.

H Power Corp. said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with SGL Carbon to jointly develop graphite plate components customized for use in H Power Corp.'s proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. H. Frank Gibbard, chief executive officer of H Power Corp., explained using molded graphite plates instead of machined plates will reduce the cost of this essential fuel cell component by as much as 90%.

Shandong Huaneng Power Development Co. Ltd said its power generation for the first three quarters of 2000 was 12,250 gw-hr , representing a 10.86% increase from the same period last year. Excluding the new generation from the Rizhao Plant Phase which began commercial operation on Apr. 11, 2000, the company said total generation from the company's other three plants represents 81.84% of the planned annual gross generation for the full year of 2000. The four plants have a total installed capacity of 3,050 Mw, of which the company's proportionate ownership is 2,113.5 Mw.

French-Belgian energy conglomerate TotalFina Elf SA said it had signed an agreement with Chilean power producer Gener to form a strategic alliance to develop electricity generation in Latin America. In a $810 million deal, TotalFina Elf plans to buy 20% of Gener, Latin America's third largest independent power producer, and 80% of a new company, which will hold Gener's interests in Argentina, the French conglomerate said in a statement. Three power plants totaling 4,209 Mw are part of the new company, in which Gener will keep 20% of its shares, the statement said.

The Midland Cogeneration Venture Ltd. Partnership reported net income of $24.1 million on operating revenue of $148 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2000, compared to net income of $21.9 million on revenue of $155.3 million for the third quarter of 1999. Lower earnings for the first nine months of 2000 compared to 1999 was due primarily to increased fuel costs resulting from higher natural gas prices, according to the company.

Calpine Corp. reported it has entered into a project development agreement to build, own, and operate a $510 million, 850 Mw natural gas-fired electricity generating facility to be located on the Ohio River in Hamilton Township, Ohio. Calpine entered into the agreement with Hanging Rock Energy Projects LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boston-based CME-NAME, which had initiated preliminary development efforts for the project. CME-NAME will continue to work with Calpine as the project moves forward. The project will interconnect with American Electric Power Co. Inc. through AEP's Hanging Rock substation. Proposed commercial operation is scheduled for 2004.

UIL Holdings Corp. reported net income of $19.7 million or $1.40/share on revenue of $247.1 million for the third quarter Sept. 30, 2000, compared to net income of $25 million or $1.78/share on revenue of $220.5 million in the third quarter of 1999. The settlement of the Millstone Unit 3 litigation in the third quarter of 2000 accounted for a one-time gain of 21�/share, which was offset by a 15� charge taken in the second quarter due to an impairment loss on a parcel of property in North Haven, the company said.

UtiliMAX.com Inc. said the company will change its name to American Edison Inc., to better reflect the company's mission and market position. The change is a result of the company's desire to enhance its image as a full service electricity and telecommunication services provider to the business community, said Pres. James Fruehling. The company currently supplies electricity in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as telecommunication services nationwide. American Edison Inc. said it plans to expand its electricity service to 10 states by early 2001.

Baldor Electric Co. said it has reached an agreement to purchase Pow'r Gard Generator Corp., Oshkosh, Wis. Pow'r Gard, a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of generators and generator sets, has annual sales of $25 million. The company manufactures and markets a variety of generators from 1.3-50 kw. As the demand for electric power pushes many electric utilities to critical peak load conditions, many commercial and industrial companies are installing secondary and backup power generation capabilities themselves, the companies said.

Ameren Corp. reported record earnings of $256 million, or $1.87/share for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2000, a 3% increase over earnings of $250 million, or $1.82/share, for the year-ago quarter. Third quarter electric revenues were flat compared to the year-ago period. During the period, commercial sales increased 7%, while residential and industrial sales decreased 1% and 4%, respectively. In addition, interchange and wholesale sales increased 3% and 50%, respectively.

Alliance Pipeline LP, Calgary, said it is shifting its commercial in-service date from Oct. 30 to Nov. 13 to complete system commissioning activities on the pipeline system. The line stretches from northeastern British Columbia to the Chicago area, part of a system to carry Canadian gas to Northeast US markets. Commissioning activities have been underway for some time, and the system is flowing 400-500 MMcfd of test gas. As the flow of test gas volumes has risen during system commissioning, moisture and debris from construction are being encountered, said Norm Gish, Alliance Pipeline CEO.

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