Electric Power news briefs, June 15

Orion Power Holdings Inc. ... Cogentrix Energy Inc. ... Kvaerner ASA ... Teco Energy Inc. ... Panda Energy International Inc. ... Mirant Corp. .. National Grid PLC .. Niagara Mohawk Holdings Inc. ... ABB AS ... Tenaska Power Services Co. ... NorthWestern Corp. ... AES Corp. ... PG&E Corp. ... FPL Group Inc. ... Duke Energy Corp. ... Entergy Corp. ... Maxim Power Corp. ... TransCanada Pipelines ... New Brunswick Power Corp. ... Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.

Orion Power Holdings Inc., Baltimore, Md., reported the 500 Mw Ceredo generating station, Wayne County, W.Va., has begun commercial operation. Energy produced by the plant will serve high summer demand in the Midwest merchant market. Ceredo generating station consists of six General Electric model 7EA combustion turbines arranged in a simple cycle, peaking configuration.

Cogentrix Energy Inc., Charlotte, NC, has selected Kvaerner Engineering & Construction, a unit of Kvaerner ASA, London, for final negotiations of the turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction contract for a 810 Mw electric power facility being developed by Cogentrix near Bedford, Ind. The combined cycle plant will be designed and built by Kvaerner ASA, Pittsburgh, Pa., one of 30 offices worldwide. Construction is projected to begin in the fourth quarter 2001 with operations to start in 2004.

A unit of Teco Energy Inc., Tampa, Fla., and Panda Energy International Inc., Dallas, Tex., reported closing on a $2.2 billion, 5-year bank financing for the two largest independent power projects in the US. The transaction, which includes $1.7 billion in nonrecourse debt and a $500 million equity bridge loan, will cover construction costs for the TPS/Panda joint venture's Union (also known as El Dorado), Union County, Ark., and Gila River, Gila Bend, Ariz., power stations, representing 4,500 Mw of capacity. Citigroup and Societe Generale are serving as the lead arrangers for the financing, which closed with an initial group of 18 banks acting as underwriters.

Mirant Corp., Atlanta, Ga., reported the 248 Mw natural gas-fired combined cycle unit at its Bosque County, Tex., power plant has begun commercial operation, marking the second phase of the plant. The first phase, which includes two simple cycle peaking units, produces 308 Mw and began commercial operation in June 2000.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the proposed merger between National Grid PLC, London, and Niagara Mohawk Holdings Inc., Syracuse, NY. The $3 billion merger was announced Sept. 5, 2000. Approval is pending from the New York Public Service Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal has already received approval from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, and the Department of Justice.

ABB AS, Zurich, Switzerland, said it won contracts worth about $300 million to design and build two high-voltage power transmission systems with a combined length of 1,300 km in Brazil. The company will design, procure, and construct all transmission line components, including six 500 kv substations and reactive power compensation equipment. A concession granted by the Federal National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) gives the developer consortium Schahin/Alusa the right to build, own, and operate two power lines in north and northeastern Brazil to increase transmission capacity of the national power grid.

Brownsville Public Utilities Board (PUB), Brownsville, Tex., renewed a power supply agreement with Tenaska Power Services Co. (TPS), Dallas, Tex., for 3 years, Tenaska reported. Separately, Muscatine Power & Water (MPW), Muscatine, Iowa, renewed for 2 years an agreement first signed last year. That agreement calls for TPS, in an alliance with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), to market excess capacity and purchase supplemental supplies required by MPW.

NorthWestern Corp., Great Falls, Mont., and Montana Gov. Judy Martz reported the company plans to construct a 240 Mw gas-fired, combined cycle facility near Great Falls, Mont. Subject to permitting requirements, the first unit is projected to come on line in the fall of 2001, the second phase in the summer of 2002, and the third unit in the fall of 2002.

AES Corp., Arlington, Va., said its AES-3C Maritza East 1 project signed two contracts with Bulgarian interests: a 15-year power purchase agreement with the Bulgarian national electricity utility, NEK, and, a lignite supply agreement with Maritza East Mines. AES has an 88% ownership interest in the project. AES-3C Maritza East 1 is a 670 Mw brownfield plant adjacent to the existing Maritza East 1 facility. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2002.

The city of Denton, Tex., has awarded a unit of PG&E Corp., San Francisco, a contract to purchase and operate the municipality's electric generating facilities and provide a 5-year full service requirements wholesale power-supply contract. The PG&E National Energy Group will acquire the 176 Mw natural gas-fired Spencer generating station, as well as the Lewisville and Ray Roberts hydroelectric facilities. Plus, over the next 5 years the National Energy Group will supply wholesale power to meet the city's electricity needs. The city of Denton will continue to distribute power to its customers.

FPL Energy LLC, a subsidiary of FPL Group Inc., Juno Beach, Fla., said it will construct, operate, and own a 517 Mw natural gas-fired power plant in Blythe, Calif. Its output will be sold in the state's wholesale market. Construction of the combined cycle facility began in May and is expected to begin commercial operation in early 2003. Participating in the project will be Caithness Energy LLC, the project's original developer.

Duke Energy Corp., Charlotte, NC, said it asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the operating licenses for both McGuire and Catawba nuclear stations. This would allow the two power plants to produce electricity for North Carolina and South Carolina into the 2040s. Oconee nuclear station, near Seneca, SC, was the second nuclear facility in the US to obtain a renewed license when it received NRC approval for a 20-year extension last May.

Entergy Corp., New Orleans, La., Bulgaria's National Electric Co., Sofia, and Bulgaria's State Agency of Energy and Energy Resources reported concluding commercial negotiations for a $470 million rehabilitation of the 840 Mw Maritza East III power plant in southeastern Bulgaria. The scope of the project includes rehabilitation and refurbishment of the existing four generation units and installation of flue gas desurphurizer systems. The project will take 3 1/2 years to complete after financial close, the partners said. With the agreements signed, the partners said they will seek financing from a variety of sources, including the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development.

Maxim Power Corp. is purchasing the Gold Creek power plant from TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. (TRP), Calgary, in a deal that will make TransCanada a part-owner of the Calgary electricity producer, TransCanada reported. Under the deal, Maxim will pay $13 million (Can.) for the Gold Creek plant. After the deal is finalized, TransCanada will own 7.7% of Maxim, which has small power plants in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Canada's National Energy Board said it received an application from New Brunswick Power Corp. to construct a 59-mile, $40 million (Can.), 345 kv international power line from Point Lepreau, NB, to the international boundary near Woodland, Me. The proposed Canadian line would connect to an 84-mile, 345 kv line in the US, proposed by Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., Bangor, Me. Proposed construction would begin in 2002.

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