Electric Power news briefs, October 6

Constellation Power Source .... Nicor Gas Inc. ... Allegheny Power ... PJM Interconnection LLC ... InterGen ... Rotterdam Energy Co. Ltd. ... Royal/Dutch Shell Group ... Bechtel Corp. ... Beale Air Force Base ... Energy Masters International Inc. ... Vectren Corp. ... Dayton Power & Light Co. ... Southern Co. ... Alabama Municipal Electric Authority ... FuelCell Energy Inc. ... Mercedes-Benz US International Inc. ... MTU Friedrichshafen ... Gas Industry Standards Board

Constellation Power Source, a unit of Constellation Energy Group Inc., reported it will build a 750 Mw $350 million electric power plant, one of California's first major power plants in more than a decade. The High Desert power project will be built at the Southern California Logistics Airport. Groundbreaking is expected to begin in early 2002 and commercial operation in the summer of 2003.

Nicor Gas Inc. said it filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) a plan that would enable customers participating in the company's Customer Select program to continue until the ICC hearing process is completed. In August, Nicor Gas filed a request with the ICC to extend choice to all customers beginning in March 2001. That filing was suspended Sept. 20 and the Commission will initiate hearings about Customer Select that could last up to 11 months. In January 1998, Customer Select began as a 3-year pilot program designed to give customers a choice of natural gas suppliers. More than 122,000 customers signed up for Customer Select; close to 30% of those eligible. Customers who were eligible early this year will be offered the opportunity to choose an alternative supplier during a sign up period from January-March 2001.

Allegheny Power, an unit of Allegheny Energy Inc., and PJM Interconnection LLC reported they have executed an agreement in principle to form a new electric transmission system affiliation. The terms will be outlined in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Oct. 16, they said. Allegheny Power said the agreement will satisfy the FERC's independence requirement for its transmission system operations, while Allegheny continues to pursue the development of a large, regional, independent transmission entity. The timeline set out in the agreement includes negotiation for a definitive contract by Feb. 1, 2001, execution prior to Mar. 1, 2001, and implementation by Dec. 15, 2001. Under the PJM West concept, PJM West transmission owners will transfer monitoring and functional control of their transmission systems to PJM.

InterGen, through its affiliate Rotterdam Energy Co. Ltd., said it has applied to the province of South Holland and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works for licenses to build and operate an 800 Mw gas-fired cogeneration plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands. InterGen proposes to build this plant on land currently occupied by Nerefco, a refining company, near Pernis in Rotterdam Harbor. Rotterdam Energy Company Ltd. said it expects to receive permits and licenses to construct the cogeneration facility by April 2001 and to begin commercial operation in mid-2003. InterGen is a venture between the Royal/Dutch Shell Group and Bechtel Corp.

Beale Air Force Base, Sacramento, Calif., has signed a $6.6 million energy conservation contract with Energy Masters International Inc., a unit of Xcel Energy, that is expected to save $1.1 million/year or a total of 166,958 MMbtu, the company reported. The contract includes capital improvements such as lighting system enhancements, power factor correction, motor replacements, direct digital control system expansion, variable air volume ventilation conversion, cooling tower and chiller replacement, and mechanical upgrades. The company is projecting pay back of 7.9 years.

Vectren Corp., Evansville, Ind., said the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved its acquisition of the natural gas distribution business of Dayton Power & Light Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of DPL Inc., completing the regulatory oversight process. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved the transaction on July 12, 2000. Following the Hart Scott Rodino notification process, the US Department of Justice also notified the company that it would not take any action with respect to the acquisition.

Southern Co., Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA), FuelCell Energy Inc., and Mercedes-Benz US International Inc. (MBUSI) reported they have begun construction on a fuel cell demonstration project that is the first of its kind in the US. The project is located in the service territory of Alabama Power Co., a Southern Co. subsidiary. The power plant will utilize FuelCell Energy's Direct FuelCell stack in a design developed by MTU Friedrichshafen, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler and FuelCell Energy partner. The plant will convert pipeline natural gas to electricity at an efficiency of about 50%, compared with 33% for conventional generation and will feed the Mercedes-Benz production facility power distribution system, the companies reported. Southern Co., AMEA, and FuelCell Energy will provide funding for the fuel cell power plant, and Southern Co. will serve as project manager.

The Gas Industry Standards Board has approved a proposal calling for review and discussion of a combined electric and natural gas standards board. The proposal sets forth a possible governance structure for an organization that would be responsible for creating and maintaining standards for doing business in the converging gas and electric markets.

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