Electric Power news briefs, July 5

Laclede Gas Co. ... PPL Corp. ... Constellation Power Source ... Enmax Energy Corp. ... Epcor Utilities Inc. ... Orion Power MidWest LP ... University Park Energy LLC ... Calpine Corp. ... Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline ... UtiliCorp NZ Ltd. ... Fortum Engineering ... Babcock & Wilcox

Laclede Gas Co., a natural gas utility based in St. Louis, Mo., said because of "extraordinarily" high wholesale natural gas prices it will file a request with the Missouri Public Service Commission to make an unscheduled rate adjustment that could add up to $5/month to customers' bills. High gas prices are causing it to lose as much as $100,000/day, the company says. Implementation of the rate increase, Laclede says, will lessen the magnitude of any increase that may be required in the fall.

PPL Corp. completed July 1 its internal restructuring into four separate units as previously approved by state and federal regulators. The holding company, based in Allentown, Pa., was mostly known for its integrated electric utility as well as some international electricity assets. But now the company has put all its US power plants in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Montana into PPL Generation and its wholesale electricity and gas marketing operations into PPL EnergyPlus. The electric and gas utilities owned by PPL Corp. will be included in the PPL Utilities unit. And finally, the global power generation business, including its distribution businesses in Britain, Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Brazil, will be included in PPL Global. PPL Corp. said there would be no changes to the 12,500 worldwide staffing level as a result of the realignment.

Deposits of $232 million (Can.) from eight bidders have been accepted for Alberta�s first electricity auction starting July 19. Companies were to deposit $2 million by July 3 for each of up to 31 units they want to bid on. The deregulation process involves 6,414 Mw of electricity with a book value of more than $4 billion, generated by 10 power plants. Charles River Associates, Boston, is conducting the auction and says it is satisfied with the bidding response. Bidders include Constellation Power Source, Engage Energy Canada LP, Enmax Energy Corp., Enron Canada Power Corp., Epcor Utilities Inc., PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., TransCanada Power LP, and UtiliCorp United Inc. The auction will continue until bidding stops. The Alberta government plans to start offering customers a power of suppliers beginning Jan. 1, 2001.

Subject to regulatory approval, Orion Power MidWest LP, a subsidiary of Orion Power Holdings Inc., said it will repower the 234 Mw Brunot Island power plant on the Ohio River, adding about 145,000 kw of electric generating capacity. The repowering will convert Brunot Island to a natural gas-fueled, combined-cycle power plant. Brunot Island is currently a six-unit, oil-fired, simple-cycle peaking facility; it began operation in 1972. Orion Power MidWest will upgrade three of the simple-cycle units to combined-cycle technology, says General Manager Dan McIntire. The upgrade will include installation of new heat recovery steam generators, restoration of an existing steam turbine and generator, conversion from oil fuel to natural gas, and installation of catalytic conversion equipment to minimize NOx air emissions. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2000, with full commercial operation slated for 2002. Independent power producer Orion Power Holdings Inc., has invested more than $3 billion invested in 82 power plants with a total capacity of 5,227 Mw.

University Park Energy LLC, Chicago, an affiliate of Constellation Power Source Inc., reported site clearing has begun for a $130 million power plant located in University Park, 30 miles south of Chicago. Clearing and grading is being done by Ryan Inc., Janesville, Wis., and Chicago-based engineering company Sargent & Lundy will supervise the engineering, procurement, and construction of the project. The 300-Mw plant, with 12 Pratt and Whitney natural gas-fired combustion turbines, is expected to begin operating by the summer of 2001.

Calpine Corp. and Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline (KMTP), Houston, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Inc., have entered into a contract under which KMTP will supply 60,000 MMbtu/day of natural gas�or about 75% of its needs�to the Calpine II cogeneration facility at Pasadena, Tex. The contract will continue through the summer of 2002. KMTP currently supplies 100% of the natural gas Calpine burns at its Pasadena I plant. KMTP operates intrastate pipeline system primarily along the Texas Gulf Coast and purchases and sells natural gas in the Texas intrastate market.

As the result of a June 30 transaction with a financial institution, UtiliCorp United Inc., Kansas City, Mo., will deconsolidate financial reporting for its New Zealand operations, removing about $450 million in existing New Zealand debt from its balance sheet, the company reported. The transaction changed the ownership structure through which UtiliCorp holds its investment in UtiliCorp NZ Ltd., which continues to own 79% of the outstanding shares in UnitedNetworks Ltd. Terms of the financial institution's equity investment were not disclosed. UnitedNetworks acquired the gas distribution network of Orion New Zealand Ltd. in April for $274 million. None of the debt related to that transaction will be carried on UtiliCorp's balance sheet due to the deconsolidation, the company said. UnitedNetworks is New Zealand's largest distributor of electricity, with 484,000 electric customers and 117,000 natural gas customers. It has more than a 30% share of the nation's electric distribution market.

Fortum Engineering Polska Sp. z.o.o., a unit of Fortum Engineering Ltd., Finland, and Babcock & Wilcox Co., a subsidiary of McDermott International Inc., have signed an engineering, procurement, and construction contract under which Babcock & Wilcox will supply a coal-fired circulating fluidized-bed boiler island to the new $20 million Tychy II power plant project at Tychy, Poland. The capacity of the new fluidized-bed boiler is equivalent to 90 Mw. The B&W internal recirculating coal-fired fluidized-bed (IR-CFB) boiler design is a two-stage internal recirculation particle system that improves performance and reduces operating and maintenance costs. This design eliminates the high-maintenance hot cyclone separators used by other suppliers.

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