Electric Power news briefs, September 1

Entergy Corp. ... PPG Industries Inc. .... Midwest Energy Cooperative ... Charles River Associates Inc. ... Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association ... UtiliCorp Networks Canada ... TransAlta Corp. ... Southern California Edison Co. ... Thermo Ecotek ... Buccaneer Gas Pipeline LLC ... Duke Energy Corp. ... Williams ... Wisconsin Public Service Corp. ... Minnesota Power Inc. ... Allete ... Peninsular Gas Co.


Entergy Wholesale Operations, the power development division of Entergy Corp., and PPG Industries Inc. reported they have completed a $242 million nonrecourse financing for their joint power facility in Lake Charles, La. Construction of the 425 Mw combined cycle, natural gas-fired cogeneration plant, which will be owned by RS Cogen LLC and operated by PPG, is planned for September with the facility expected to begin operation in 2002. The plant will provide 250,000 lb/hr of process steam to PPG's adjacent chemical plant and 525,000 lb/hr to be sold to Lyondell Chemical Co. Half the facility's electrical output will supply the PPG plant and the other half will be sold by Entergy's power marketing group on the wholesale market. Entergy Wholesale Operations and PPG each own 50% of RS Cogen.

The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved a settlement agreement, granting Midwest Energy Cooperative authority to refund $919,706 to its monthly member-customers in its Fruit Belt division on their November and December 2000 electric bills and $8,322 to its Fruit Belt division seasonal member-customers on their September 2000 electric bills. Midwest's irrigation customers in its Fruit Belt division will see a surcharge of $11,316 on their December 2000 electric bills. The commission approved the refunds and the surcharge because Midwest overcollected or undercollected from its respective electric customers for their Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1999 power supply costs.

Charles River Associates Inc. (CRA) reported after 70 rounds of bidding with five winning bidders submitting bids totaling more than $1 billion (Can.) the Alberta auction of power purchase agreements (PPA) was successfully concluded. Winning bidders purchased the rights to market and sell electricity generated in Alberta from generating units representing more than 4,200 Mw for periods ranging from a few years to 20 years, depending on the facility. CRA was responsible for marketing both the PPAs and the auction.

The Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association received authorization from the Michigan Public Service Commission to increase its rates for its electric customers by $156,335 annually, an average increase of about 3.11%. The commission said it approved the rate increase because Alger Delta's currently approved rates would result in a revenue insufficiency for the company based on 1999 data. Alger Delta's new rates will take effect in September 2000.

UtiliCorp Networks Canada, a unit of US-based UtiliCorp United Inc., reported it has completed the purchase of TransAlta Corp.'s Alberta electricity distribution and retail businesses for about $450 million ($700 million Can.) The purchase was announced in February and involves 350,000 retail customers, the management and operation of 90,000 km of low-voltage power distribution lines, and a 24-hour customer call center in Calgary.

Southern California Edison Co., a unit of Edison International, and Thermo Ecotek, a unit of Thermo Electron Corp., Waltham, Mass., have reached an agreement under which SCE will lease and return to full operation a 120 Mw gas-fired power plant that is currently idle, the companies reported. Formerly known as the Highgrove generation station, the plant was sold by SCE in 1998 to Thermo Ecotek, a as part of California's restructuring of the electric utility industry. Riverside Canal Power Co., a Thermo Ecotek subsidiary, operates the plant. Under the agreement, SCE will operate and maintain the plant and bid generated power into the state electricity market through Oct. 31, 2000. SCE has an option to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis until the end of the year. Additionally, SCE has the option to lease and operate the plant from June 1, 2001-Oct. 31, 2001.

Buccaneer Gas Pipeline LLC, a joint pipeline development between Duke Energy Corp. and Williams, reported the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has concluded in a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) the construction and operation of Buccaneer's proposed facilities, with the adoption of recommended mitigation measures, would have limited adverse environmental impact and would be an environmentally acceptable action. Buccaneer expects to receive a final EIS and a final certificate from FERC later this year. The Buccaneer gas pipeline will extend approximately 674 miles across the Gulf of Mexico, transporting natural gas from offshore Alabama to Florida.

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved Wisconsin Public Service Corp.'s (WPS) request for revised gas cost recovery factor for its Michigan customers' October 2000�March 2001 natural gas bills. The commission approved a revised gas cost factor of 53�/therm, up from the 33�/therm approved in April. WPS Corp's Michigan residential customers using 120 mcf/year of gas will see their October 2000 through�March 2001 natural gas costs increase by about $19.70 per month.

Minnesota Power Inc., Duluth, Minn., began doing business under a new name�Allete�Sept.1., the company reported. The company's regulated electric business will continue to be called Minnesota Power. Shareholders will be asked to formalize the name change during the company's annual meeting May 8, 2001. Electric customers will not see any change in their service, said Bob Edwards, Minnesota Power executive vice-president. Allete's holdings include the second largest wholesale automobile auction network in North America; an independent auto dealer inventory financing; the largest investor-owned water utilities in Florida and North Carolina; and significant real estate holdings in Florida.

Peninsular Gas Co. was authorized by the Michigan Public Service Commission to implement a revised gas cost recovery factor for its customers' September-December 2000 natural gas bills. The commission increased the gas recovery cost factor to 53� because of recent and unanticipated increases in market prices for natural gas. Peninsular's gas cost recovery plan, approved by the Commission in January was 36� based on the purchase of gas at prices indexed to the national market for natural gas. Without the revised factor, the commission said Peninsular was at risk to experience a significant gas cost underrecovery for 2000.

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