Electric Power news briefs, January 16

Schott Corp. ... Applied Power Corp. ... South Carolina Electric & Gas ... Tomen Power Japan ... EcoPower Co. ... Japan Wind Development Co. ... Marubeni ... Saudi Electricity Co. ... Alstom ... PFG Gas & North Penn Gas ... 3i Finland Oy ... Fortum ... Naps Systems Oy ... Borgarta Resort ... South Jersey Industries ... FirstEnergy ... Northern Alternative Energy ... Midwest ISO... Panda Energy ... Philadelphia Gas Works ... Western Hub Properties ... City Gas Co. of Florida ... Calpine

Schott Corp., Yonkers, NY, a unit of Germany's Schott Group, has purchased IdaCorp Inc. unit Applied Power Corp., a manufacturer, supplier, and distributor of solar photovoltaic systems. Boise-based IdaCorp. acquired Applied Power in 1996. The company will be renamed Schott Applied Power Corp. Terms were not disclosed.

The US Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, SC, has signed a $11.5 million contract with South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., a unit of SCANA Corp., to replace the heating and cooling systems in family housing at the base. The construction project will involve installation of geothermal heat pumps and desuperheaters in 1,236 residential homes. Each residence will have a heating and air conditioning unit connected to wells drilled 250 ft deep in the backyard. The wells will contain a 1-in. plastic pipe that forms a closed loop connected to the house. Water will be circulated through the pipe. The geothermal unit also will have a desuperheater that connects to the water heater and takes exhaust heat from the house to provide 50-60%of the home's hot water.

Five Japanese wind power developers have formed the Wind Power Developers Association, including Tomen Power Japan Corp., EcoPower Co. Ltd., Japan Wind Development Co. Ltd., Marubeni Corp., and Electric Power Development Co. Ltd. The New Energy Act, which promotes and governs subsidies to renewable energy was enacted in 1997. Further, a suprapartisan Diet members' association to promote renewable energy has been considering a bill to oblige electric power companies to purchase a fixed amount of wind power generation. Also, electric power companies set up a Green Power Fund in October to encourage use of natural energy, and has a bidding system for new wind power generation projects.

The Saudi Electricity Co. has awarded France's Alstom a contract worth 440 million euros to extend the Shoaiba oil-fired power plant in Saudi Arabia. Alstom was originally awarded the turnkey contract to construct units 1-3 of the plant, 120 km south of Jeddah on the Red Sea, in October 1998. The Phase 2 contract for Units 4-5 will be a continuation of Phase 1, which is currently under construction. The first unit is scheduled to begin operation in July 2001. Engineering and construction of Phase 2 begins immediately, with expected commercial operation for Unit 4 in mid-2003 and Unit 5 at the end of 2003.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved a settlement that will allow PFG Gas & North Penn Gas Co. to increase base rates by $9.3 million or 9.5%. The company originally requested a $14.4 million or 12.88% rate increase. The company said the increase is needed to recover current operational and maintenance expenses

Finland's 3i Finland Oy, a venture capital company, is buying 39% of Fortum Corp.'s solar power company Naps Systems Oy, 3i reported. The deal requires approval of the EU competition authorities. Naps, founded in 1986, is a leading solar power company in Scandinavia. The company has supplied systems to over 40 countries for consumer needs, industry, and communities. Naps� net sales last year amounted to 7.5 million euros.

Borgarta Resort, Atlantic City, NJ, has awarded Marina Energy LLC, a unit of South Jersey Industries, a 20-year contract to provide energy services to the resort, South Jersey reported. Marina Energy will supply Borgata heat, hot water, and cooling via a $40 million plant which will use natural gas delivered by South Jersey units. Marina Energy was also awarded a 20-year contract to supply the casino resort's electricity. Other energy related services will also be provided.

FirstEnergy Corp. reported net income in the 2000 fourth quarter was $125.3 million or 57�/share on revenue of $1.8 billion, compared with $120.4 million, or 53�/share on revenue of $1.6 billion, in the 1999 fourth quarter. For the year 2000, net income was $599 million or $2.69/share on revenue of $7 billion, compared with $568.3 million, or $2.50/share on revenue of $6.3 billion, in 1999. The company attributed higher fourth quarter results to the addition of 14,000 new electricity customers in FirstEnergy's regulated service area, continued economic growth in the local economy, and a 31.5% increase in power sales to customers in unregulated energy markets, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

Market Hub Partners LP (MHP), an affiliate of Duke Energy Corp., said it will expand its Egan, La., natural gas, salt cavern storage facility to 16 bcf from 12 bcf. MHP said it filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for authorization to begin the $9 million expansion. MHP expects to reach 16 bcf of working storage capacity by 2005.

Northern Alternative Energy Inc. through its affiliate, Navitas Energy and Xcel Energy, said it has executed power purchase agreements which will result in the installation of 650 Mw of wind and combustion turbine energy, to be developed at five sites in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The $400 million project includes 100 Mw of wind energy and 550 Mw of dispersed generation using combustion turbines in a hybrid application. Construction will begin in May 2001 and is expected to be completed in December and June 2002.

The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc.. has filed to qualify as a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the filing, the Midwest ISO states that, as currently configured, it satisfies the minimum characteristics and eight minimum functions outlined in Order 2000, and the ISO has proven that it meets the "open architecture'' policy outlined in the order.

Panda Energy International Inc. reported plans to develop a $400 million 1,300 Mw merchant electric power plant in West Point, Tex., called the Panda Black Prairie project. Construction on the gas-fired facility is set to begin in the spring of 2002 with completion scheduled in 2004.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) request to increase its gas cost rate by an additional $133 million, raising the monthly bill for a typical residential heating customer to $136.12 from $104.58. The increase will be effective retroactive to Jan. 1. The rise follows a $97 million gas cost increase the PUC approved in November 2000. PGW has also requested a $65 million base rate increase. The PUC has 9 months to rule on the base rate request.

Western Hub Properties LLC (WHP), a developer of high-deliverability natural gas storage facilities, and Calpine Corp. reported WHP's wholly owned subsidiary, Lodi Gas Storage LLC, has entered into a long-term firm agreement to supply Calpine with storage services at WHP's Lodi Gas Storage facility near Lodi, Calif. The storage arrangement can provide up to 4 bcf of working gas inventory and daily deliverability equal to 20% of Calpine's western region peak day gas requirements in 2002. The facility is scheduled to begin construction in February of 2001, and will be in operation in the fourth quarter.

City Gas Co. of Florida, a division of NUI Corp., said it received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to increase its annual base rates by $5.13 million. This includes an interim rate increase of $1.64 million the PSC approved for City Gas in October. The total increase of $5.13 million will set City Gas's rate of return on equity at 11.5% with an overall allowed rate of return of 7.88% The increase brings the company's rate base to $121 million. The new rates approved are scheduled to go into effect with meter readings on and after Feb.15.

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