Electric Power news briefs, Mar. 28

Westcoast Energy Inc. ... Companhia Paulista de Forca e Luz ... InterGen ... Alliance Transmission Co. ... CMS Energy Corp. ... H Power Corp. ... Kurita Water Industries Ltd. ... Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. ... USPowerSolutions ... Southern California Edison Co. ... Northeast Utilities ... Puget Sound Energy


Westcoast Energy Inc., Vancouver, BC, said it completed the $75 million acquisition of the balance of the Empire State Pipeline, increasing its ownership to 100% from 50%. Empire is a 156-mile, 24-in. intrastate natural gas pipeline system that runs from the Canadian-US border near Niagara, NY, to interconnect with other systems near Syracuse. Its rated capacity is 525 MMcfd.

Brazilian utility Companhia Paulista de Forca e Luz executed a power purchase agreement with InterGen for development of Carioba II, a 945 Mw gas-fired combined cycle generation facility to be located in Americana, Sao Paulo, reported InterGen, the electric power alliance between Royal Dutch/Shell Group and US engineering company Bechtel Corp. The project will cost an estimated $650 million. It is expected to begin commercial operations by the second half of 2003.

The Alliance companies said they created an interim organization to manage the transition to the independent Alliance Transmission Co. The interim entity will facilitate the process leading to operation of the Alliance Transmission Co., including management of initial funding, vendor contracts for operational implementation, and providing a vehicle to attract independent investors. The Alliance regional transmission organization received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jan. 24. The Alliance and Midwest Independent System Operator filed a formal settlement agreement with FERC Mar. 21, that outlines how the two organizations will work together. The settlement includes a provision for the two to operate under a single rate structure.

CMS Energy Corp. said it successfully priced $350 million of 8.5% senior notes, due 2011. Proceeds from the offering will be used to repay debt. The lead underwriter on the sale was Credit Suisse First Boston. CMS Energy has annual sales of $9 billion and assets of about $16 billion worldwide.

Fuel cell developer H Power Corp. reported forming a strategic technology partnership with Tokyo's Kurita Water Industries Ltd. Under the alliance, H Power will install Kurita's compact, proprietary water purifier in 40 H Power residential cogeneration fuel cell systems that will be beta tested at various customer sites. Concurrent with forming the alliance, Kurita disclosed it made an equity investment in H Power, purchasing an undisclosed number of shares in the open market.

Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., a unit of Niagara Mohawk Holdings Inc., said it hedged its summer electricity supply portfolio assuming normal weather, unit availability, and performance. Under normal weather for the months of June, July, and August, Niagara Mohawk estimated its total energy requirements to be 9,750 Gw-hr. Of this amount, 2,150 Gw-hr is energy Niagara Mohawk delivers to large industrial customers who have elected to buy their power on the open market. Some of the contracts are indexed to fuel prices. In these instances, Niagara Mohawk said it entered into separate transactions to hedge against further volatility in fuel prices.

USPowerSolutions, Cambridge, Mass., said it secured $5 million in additional financing from both prior and new investors. The company said it will use the funds to to serve new clients, accelerate product development efforts, and increase sales and marketing initiatives.

Southern California Edison Co., a unit of Edison International, said Tuesday it will begin paying interest on its deferred debts. The company said it would begin paying past due interest on two series of first mortgage bonds, past due interest on its 5 7/8% notes that matured in January, interest on matured commercial paper, and interest on extendable commercial notes. The firm said payments would be made as soon as practicable and all interest would be brought current to the end of March 2001. Payments will also include interest on past due interest. On Jan. 16, Southern California Edison said it would temporarily defer payments on purchased power and financial indebtedness.

The state of Connecticut awarded a unit of Northeast Utilities an $18 million contract to install six 200 kw fuel at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown, Northeast said. Built by United Technologies Co.'s International Fuel Cells subsidiary, the fuel cells will be installed in parallel with the local utility power grid to provide power in the event of a failure. It will be backed up with gas-fired combustion generators. When completed in September, the training school's new central energy plant will supply 1.2 Mw of electricity, 9 MMbtu/hr of hot water, and 680 tons of chilled water. The project will be operated and maintained by Northeast's unit under a 20-year contract with a 10-year renewal option expected to generate about $2 million in annual revenues.

Puget Sound Energy, the utility subsidiary of Puget Energy Inc., filed a proposal with Washington regulators that will give residential and business customers a credit of 5�/kw-hr saved in excess of a 10% cutback in electricity use. A customer's latest month of power usage would be compared with that same month a year earlier to calculate eligibility for the credit. Under a second program eligible customers would pay less for the power they use during off peak periods, and more for high demand, on peak energy. Puget Sound Energy asked regulators to put the plan into effect Apr.16 in time for May bills.

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