Electric Power news briefs, Mar. 21

Valero Energy ... Ratchaburi Electricity ... Nuon ... Siemens Nederland ... Sistema Electrico del Estado Nueva Esparta ... GE Power Systems ... CMS Energy ... Williams ... TransCanada PipeLines ... Constellation Nuclear ... NSTAR ... Wisconsin Energy Corp. ... E-lecTrade Inc. ... Nth Power Technologies ... Shalom.com ... Pacific Gas & Electric ... Newport Generation ... Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power ... Black Hills Corp. ... Ontario Power Generation ... British Energy ... Niagara Mohawk

Valero Energy Corp. said its board approved a $57 million cogeneration project for the company's refinery in Benicia, Calif. The gas turbine unit will allow the company to produce 51 Mw of electricity to power the refinery�releasing enough electricity back to the state's grid to power 50,000 homes. The cogeneration project will provide a more stable power supply to the refinery, which has throughput capacity of 165,000 b/d and provides 10% of the state's fuel supplies.

Thailand's Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PLC (REGH), the privatized Thai power company, reported a net profit of 144 million baht ($3.34 million) in 2000, beating projections of a net loss of 149 million baht. REGH, which owns a large scale power plant built in western Thailand primarily to run on natural gas piped from Burma, is also upbeat with 2001 prospect, projecting a 3.4 billion baht in net profit. REGH managing director Boonchoo Direksathapon, attributed REGH's profit in 2000, its first year of operation, to lower operating costs, including interest payment. Meanwhile, he welcomed a suggestion that Banpu PLC, the Thai coal mining and energy firm, obtain an additional stake in REGH. Banpu has gradually increased its holding in REGH to 12% from about 10%.

The Dutch power utility Nuon has placed an order with Siemens Nederland NV, The Hague, for delivery of 19,000 solar modules with a cumulative peak power of 2.3 Mw, Siemens reported. The installation will power Floriade 2002, an international horticultural exhibition in Amsterdam. The project, equivalent to almost three soccer fields, is designed so the solar modules simultaneously function as the actual roof for a semiopen glasshouse and as an electrical plant that will provide electricity directly to the local grid. Siemens Nederland will begin the installation in September and complete it in December.

Sistema Electrico del Estado Nueva Esparta (SENECA) based in Porlamar, Margarita Island, off Venezuela has awarded GE Power Systems, a unit of General Electric Co., a $28 million, 12-year maintenance contract for two gas turbines installed for the expansion of Planta Luisa Caceres de Arismendi, GE said. The power plant is operated by CMS Energy Corp., Dearborn, Mich., the majority owner of SENECA, with the remaining portion split between employees and the Venezuelan government.

Duke Energy Corp. said it closed its concurrent public offerings of 25 million shares of common stock and $775 million of Equity Units. Duke Energy had originally announced an offering of $500 million in Equity Units, which was increased to $775 million due to investor demand. Duke Energy priced the new shares of common stock at $38. The units will mature May 18, 2004, and will have a yield of 8.25% and a conversion premium of 22%.

A unit of Williams reported closing the purchase of a 49.25% interest in the ACCROVEN project in Venezuela from TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. Terms were not disclosed. Located in the Eastern Cryogenic Complex of Venezuela, the project includes construction and operation of two 400 MMcfd natural gas liquids extraction plants, a 50,000 b/d natural gas liquids fractionation plant and associated storage and refrigeration facilities for Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). Construction began in mid-1999, with the three plants on schedule for operation in May.

Unit 2 at the 850 Mw Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant was taken out of service March 16 to begin a scheduled maintenance and refueling outage, Constellation reported. Calvert Cliffs is owned and operated by Constellation Nuclear LLC, a unit of Constellation Energy Group Inc. The reactor's capacity factor stood at 100% last year.

NSTAR, Boston, Mass., asked the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy to lower its cost of gas rate by 20% to 75�/therm effective May 1.On March 1, NSTAR cut its gas cost pass through to 94�/therm from $1.11/therm. The company said the reduction reflects decreasing prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Wisconsin Energy Corp., the Milwaukee-based parent of Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and Wisconsin Gas Co., plans to sell $1 billion of 5 and 10-year notes, an official for co-lead manager Merrill Lynch & Co. said. The company will use proceeds from the sale to retire part of the $1 billion in short-term borrowings it obtained to buy WICOR Inc., the parent of Wisconsin Gas, in April 2000.

Calpine Corp. filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to periodically sell up to a total of $2.5 billion in debt securities and common and preferred stock. The company said its Canada Energy Finance ULC subsidiary may also sell debt securities. Calpine said it plans to use the net proceeds to finance power projects, for working capital, and general corporate purposes. The subsidiary will lend to Calpine the proceeds from the sale of its debt securities under an intercompany loan, according to the shelf registration filing.

E-lecTrade Inc., Tarrytown, NY, privately funded by Nth Power Technologies Inc. and Shalom.com, said it will begin beta testing of a website for trading structured products in the energy markets. Anil Suri, CEO of E-lecTrade, said AES/New Energy, a unit of AES Corp.; CH Energy Group Inc.; GPU Inc.; and a dozen other major energy organizations have agreed to participate in the beta test, which will take place in April. Participants include eight major energy companies in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland (PJM), three in the New York Pool (NYPool), and three in the New England Pool (NEPOOL).

A unit of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. said it will supply natural gas from a proposed 21-mile pipeline expansion project to Calpine Corp. and Newport Northwest, a unit of Newport Generation Inc. Calpine has several power projects under construction or development in the Northwest, and Newport is building a 1,300 Mw power plant near Wallula, Wash. PG&E Corp.'s National Energy Group (NEG) said it planned to seek approval from federal regulators in April to put 200 MMcfd of new gas onto the existing Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) by 2002. The GTN is a primary link between western Canadian gas supplies and western US gas and power markets. NEG said it will likely have an open season in April to explore demand for a second expansion project on the GTN system in 2003.

Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power Co. has contracted for the majority of production from a 90 Mw coal-fired power plant being built by Black Hills Energy Ventures, a unit of Black Hills Corp., Black Hill reported. Most of the remaining capacity of the plant has been placed under a 10-year contract by the Municipal Electric Agency of Nebraska. The coal power plant is expected to be operational in mid-2003. Cheyenne Light also will receive power from a 40 Mw gas turbine peaking facility under terms of a 10-year contract with Black Hills beginning in September 2001. Both facilities are currently under construction near Gillette, Wyo.

Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) and British Energy (Canada) Ltd. (BE) reported reaching an agreement to form a 50-50 joint venture, Huron Wind, to develop a wind energy facility near Kincardine, Ont. While the total output of the wind farm has not been determined, the companies said there will be at least 10 Mw installed. British Energy (Canada) and OPG will be responsible for day-to-day operation of the facility and for marketing the output produced by Huron Wind. Huron Wind intends to have wind generators in service in early 2002. The wind farm is expected to operate at about a 30% capacity factor.

Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. signed a new 3-year agreement to buy 650 Mw of electricity from a hydropower unit of Orion Power Holdings Inc., Orion said. Niagara Mohawk will pay Erie Boulevard Hydropower LP for the capacity and energy at fixed rates. The agreement begins in October, upon the expiration of Niagara's current agreement Erie Boulevard. Orion Power estimated based on average water flows at its facilities the agreement will produce $350 million in revenues.

More in Companies