Electric Power news briefs, August 15

Retx.com ... Silicon Energy Corp. ... Reliant Energy Inc. ... Lodestar Corp ... TurboChef Technologies Inc. ... Gas Research Institute ... Allegheny Energy Inc. ... Mountaineer Gas Co. ... California Energy Commission ... Sunlaw Cogeneration Partners ... UtiliCorp United Corp.


Retx.com, an online retail energy transaction exchange, said it has selected Silicon Energy Corp.'s curtailment manager software as part of its load management dispatcher, an application hosting service that allows utilities and energy service providers to manage distributed generation and dispatch end-use customer load management assets. Load management dispatcher monitors the spot energy market hourly via the Automated Power Exchange (APX) and notifies utility distribution companies and energy service providers of potential economic dispatch opportunities. Using meter data along with a database of load management strategies, a utility or energy service provider can decide on a strategy and notify customers via the internet if the spot market energy price exceeds a mutually agreed upon price point, according to the companies. Subject to contractual agreements, a customer can then accept or reject a notification for a load reduction or energy curtailment event. By using curtailment manager, Retx.com is able to offer customers the ability to download energy use forecasts and monitor how much load they are curtailing during the event to ensure compliance.

Reliant Energy Inc. reported it has installed Lodestar Corp.'s BillingExpert, a software system used for customized billing, including use of interruptible tariffs for industrial and commercial customers. The tariffs allow large users the option of paying for electricity if they are willing to take the risk their power will be reduced in the event of a power shortage. In effect, the tariffs allow the utility to ration power by creating a priority list of which customers to cut back first and by how much. Lodestar says the challenge for Reliant and other electric utilities in offering these plans is that they must be constantly revised as customers, customer requirements, and the tariffs change.

TurboChef Technologies Inc. reported receipt of a $2.1 million equity investment from the Gas Research Institute (GRI) to continue development of natural gas versions of TurboChef rapid-cook systems for residential and commercial markets. TurboChef's proprietary rapid-cook platform cooks faster than a microwave, it reported. The company reported a meal can be fully cooked, to restaurant quality standards, in as little as 15 minutes versus the traditional 75 minutes in a conventional oven. The GRI investment was structured as a preferred stock transaction, to be converted into common stock at a later date.

Allegheny Power, a unit of Allegheny Energy Inc., said it received approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the company's acquisition of Mountaineer Gas Co., (MGC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Corp.of America, completing the regulatory process. Acquisition of Mountaineer Gas�West Virginia's largest natural gas provider�will provide Allegheny 200,000 new natural gas customers, growing Allegheny Power's service territory to more than 31,000 square miles and its customer base to about 1.6 million customers. This is the second acquisition in the past 12 months by Allegheny Power. In December 1999, the company completed the acquisition of UtiliCorp United Corp.'s West Virginia Power subsidiary, which added 26,000 electric and 24,000 gas customers.

The California Energy Commission has begun the review of the proposed $256 million, 550 Mw natural gas-fired Nueva Azalea power plant project in South Gate, a southeast suburb of Los Angeles. The proposed power plant and its ancillary facilities, owned by Sunlaw Cogeneration Partners, would produce electricity to be sold through direct sales agreements and in the spot market through the California Power Exchange. The commission vote marks the start of a 12-month review process. If approved, the Nueva Azalea project would contain two power "islands," an electrical switchyard, administrative buildings, chemical storage areas, cooling towers, and other support facilities. Natural gas for the project will be supplied to the project by a new one-mile long pipeline. Reclaimed water and groundwater will be used for the plant cooling towers. The project applicant has proposed approval to install 1000 ft of 230 kv transmission lines with an interconnect at the Southern California Edison Co. substation. If approved, Cogeneration Partners plan to begin construction in late 2001 and start operation of the combined cycle unit in June 2003.

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