Electric Power newsbriefs, August 11

Avista Corp. ... Eagle Energy ... National Electric Power Authority ... Eskom Enterprises ... Enron Corp. ... St. Joseph Light & Power Co. ... PG&E Corp. .... Stanfield Hub Services LLC .... Compania General de Electricidad SA ... Mechanical Technology Inc. ... Beacon Power Corp. ... Peoples Energy Corp. ... EnerTech Capital Partners II LP ... Safeguard Scientifics Inc. ... Conectiv ... Orion New Zealand Ltd. ... Montana Power Co. ... and more


Washington Gov. Gary Locke issued an energy supply alert Wednesday directing Avista Corp. unit Avista Utilities to bring on additional generation capacity, allowing the gas turbine to operate more than its currently permitted hours. The 60-Mw plant is ordinarily used during peak demand for a specified number of hours. The extra power will be sold to Bellingham Cold Storage which is currently at its peak operating period handling summer fruit and fisheries harvests. It was at risk of having its power curtailed because of unprecedented spikes in wholesale power costs. The order is effective for 30 days.

ABUJA�Nigeria's Eagle Energy consortium signed an agreement with the government Thursday to provide electricity to the domestic market. Under the agreement, Eagle Energy is to produce 500 Mw of electricity, which will be sold to the state-run National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). The accord is the third to be signed with an independent power producer since the inception of the current civilian government in May 1999. The federal government had earlier signed a similar agreement with South Africa's Eskom Enterprises, while the Lagos state government signed a deal with Enron Corp. The three independent power producers are expected to provide 1,000 Mw of electricity to NEPA. Minister of Power and Steel Segun Agagu urged Eagle Energy to look for a site close to a gas supply source and accessible to NEPA intake points.

St. Joseph Light & Power Co. reported its 97 Mw generator at its Lake Road plant was back in service on Aug. 8. The unit, which meets more than 25% of the company's electric system requirements, was damaged by a fire on June 7. Total cost of the incident, net of insurance proceeds, is estimated at about $4 million. During the shutdown, St. Joseph Light & Power was required to purchase significant quantities of replacement electricity at prices significantly higher than the cost of producing electricity by the damaged unit, the company said. The company will seek recovery of these costs as part of its next electric general rate case.

PG&E Corp. and Avista Corp. reported making progress on Stanfield Hub Services LLC, their joint venture natural gas storage project in eastern Washington. The companies, partners on this project since early 1999, said they will continue to move forward in light of encouraging initial test results and a positive regulatory ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The project's next steps will include deepening an existing well and conducting additional tests to determine the viability of the proposed storage site. The tests are expected to last about 90 days, and subsequent activities will depend on their results.

Standard & Poor's said it assigned its single-'A'-minus issuer credit rating to Compania General de Electricidad SA (CGE). The outlook is stable. CGE's rating reflects the combined credit profile of its low risk Chilean distribution operations and electricity distribution in Argentina. CGE is Chile's second largest electricity distributor, providing approximately 22% of energy demand in Chile. The company services about 970,000 customers, covering parts of the Santiago metropolitan area and southern Chile. The stable outlook anticipates the completion of a $60 million equity issue currently in progress, resulting in improved debt protection measures. A larger portion of earnings is expected to come from Chilean operations as profitability and growth from domestic operations is expected to outpace that of nonChilean investments, Standard & Poor's said.

Mechanical Technology Inc. reported Beacon Power Corp. has filed a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. MTI owns a minority interest in Beacon, which designs, manufactures, and markets advanced flywheel technology products. The lead underwriter for the offering will be Salomon Smith Barney Inc., and the comanagers will be Banc of America Securities LLC and CIBC World Markets Corp.

Peoples Energy Corp. said it is making a $5 million investment in EnerTech Capital Partners II LP, taking the fund's total committed capital to $235 million. EnerTech Capital Partners is a private equity firm specializing in investment opportunities associated with the deregulation and resulting convergence of the energy, utility, and telecommunications industries. In addition to Peoples Energy, other corporate investors in EnerTech Capital Partners II include Safeguard Scientifics Inc.; Conectiv; Dynegy Inc.; Electricite de France; Exelon Capital Partners, a unit of PECO Energy Co.; Finland's Fortum Corp.; GPU Inc.; Indianapolis Power & Light Co.; Orion New Zealand Ltd.; Hunt Power; and France's TotalFinaElf SA.

Directors of the National Energy Services Association and the Houston Energy Association have agreed in principle to combine their two organizations to form the National Energy Association. NESA members are scheduled to vote on the proposal at their annual meeting Sept. 5-9, and HEA members will vote on it Oct. 16. A joint transition team will oversee the merger which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2000, the organizations reported.

The Electric Power Research Institute has initiated a coal technology research program to keep coal competitive with natural gas as a fuel to generate electricity. Initially, the work will focus on such technologies as integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) and pressurized fluidized-bed combustion. Longer term, the research will address methods of keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by sequestering it in sinks such as plant life or exhausted oil fields.

Aquila Energy, a wholly owned unit of UtiliCorp United Inc. said it will invest up to $50 million to develop its e-business portfolio, including an interactive website for its weather products and ongoing efforts to create an internet trading platform for natural gas, electric power, and other related energy commodities. Scheduled for a fall launch, the new system will extend energy suppliers' reach, cut costs, and introduce new products.

The Montana Power Co. (MPC) has filed with the Public Service Commission (PSC) a combined electric and natural gas utility rate increase request to account for higher transmission and distribution costs and to maintain the financial stability of the energy delivery systems, the company said. The electric utility is requesting an additional $38.5 million in delivery service revenue, representing a 12% increase for MPC and a uniform change in delivery rates of 21.2% for customers who have moved to choice of energy supply and no longer pay for a regulated supply component. The gas utility seeks a delivery and gas storage service revenue increase of about $12 million, or a 9% increase for core distribution level customers receiving their gas supply from MPC, and an across the board 14.3% increase for noncore, transportation customers, mainly larger industrial and commercial customers, who have moved to choice of energy, it said.

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