The Dept. of Energy has announced how it will spend more than $9 billion in federal funds under the recently enacted economic-stimulus measure, with much of the money aimed at construction projects. DOE on March 31 released its plans for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's $6 billion to accelerate environmental cleanup work at former nuclear-weapons sites across 12 states around the country. Five days earlier, the agency disclosed its breakdown of $3.2 billion for a new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program that the stimulus statute created. Photo: U.S. Dept. of Energy Funds at Hanford will help reduce
At least three electric utilities are seeking to retrofit aging coal-fueled plants to burn biomass in order to keep costs down, meet renewable portfolio standards and avoid having to comply with new emissions rules. “A lot of these coal plants are entering the twilight of their years,” says Dave O’Connor, manager of combustion performance for the Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif. Repowering “is much cheaper than building a new greenfield plant and is a very cost-effective way to give them a new purpose.” Photo: Georgia Power Co. Georgia Power has received permission for Plant Mitchell’s $103-million conversion. O’Connor
Nuclear powerplant development in the U.K. and U.S. is moving forward with vigor. In the U.K., imminent eBay-style land sales will lead to the first major financial commitments by power companies in the nation’s emerging nuclear-plant program. In the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is processing 17 applications for 26 possible new nuclear powerplants even as new questions arise over whether the government’s Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository will ever open. Photo: NDA Greenfield site next to NDA’s Bradwell powerplant is being auctioned for new units. Construction of a fleet of new plants in the U.K. is not expected to start
Electric heavyweights GE Energy, Fairfield, Conn., and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have agreed to work together to develop what they are calling the next generation of steam-turbines for gas-fired combined-cycle plants. In January, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to pool their knowledge in order to make the steam turbine technology more efficient. "There are potentials to push the boundaries beyond where we are in terms of efficiencies in operating parameters and start-up capabilities," says Trevor Bailey, general manager of steam products for GE Energy. The memorandum provides "a significant benefit over what we could achieve individually." Bailey
Building transmission lines from remote, renewable-energy-rich areas may have become simpler in late February after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that a transmission company may negotiate capacity rights on two proposed lines with a single buyer. Before the decision, FERC required power transmission companies to offer the entire capacity at the same price and for the same length of time in an open-bidding period called “open season.” In its decision, FERC admitted the open-season rule has become “unduly rigid and inflexible,” and is not conducive to developing renewable transmission projects. FERC will evaluate similar applications on a case-by-case basis.
Transmission projects to deliver renewable power in the Northwest and Southwest are surging forward thanks to recent federal and state action. The Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Ore., plans to build a $246-million, 500-kV transmission line to deliver 870 MW of electricity, including more than 700 MW of wind power, in the Northwest. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act granted BPA and the Western Area Power Administration each an additional $3.25 billion in borrowing authority to develop new transmission lines. Lakewood, Colo.-based WAPA says it is still deciding on projects. Photo: Burns & McDonnell Power line projects to start soon. In
Funds to modify a coal-fired powerplant to capture and sequester carbon dioxide are coming from an unusual source. The Dept. of Agriculture has approved a $300-million loan through its Rural Utilities Program to Basin Electric Power Cooperative, a North Dakota wholesale power power cooperative, for what is billed as the first project of its type in the country to operate on a commercial scale. A 120-MW slipstream of Antelope Valley Station Unit 1, fueled by lignite, will be processed to capture 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day at the plant near Beulah, N.D. The carbon dioxide will be piped
Renewable energy is the big energy industry winner in the stimulus bill signed into law on Feb. 17. By ENR’s estimate, the new law provides $30.6 billion in energy-related spending and tax incentives. But a provision for $50 billion in federal loan guarantees to build new nuclear power plants was dropped from the bill that emerged from the conference reconciling the House and Senate versions. Ties That Bind. Bill aims to stimulate smart-grid development but doesn’t focus on projects. While welcome, cash, tax credits and loan guarantees may not be what’s most needed. “The renewable-energy industry is doing fairly well,
Gainesville Regional Utilities will become the nation’s first utility to offer a feed-in tariff for generation of electricity from solar photovoltaic energy. Starting on March 1, the Florida municipal utility will sign new power purchase agreements for up to 4 MW per year. Sellers with a building- or pavement-mounted installation will receive a guaranteed fixed rate of 32¢ per kilowatt-hour for 20 years. The rate for a free-standing installation will be 26¢ per kWh. GRU has a program offering a rebate of $1.50 per installed watt, with up to 14¢ per kWh paid for excess power sold back to the
Even before completion, the new National Enrichment Facility is being expanded. Parsons Corp., Pasadena, Calif., was awarded a two-year contract to provide engineering, construction and construction management to expand Louisiana Energy Services’ $3-billion uranium-enrichment facility in Eunice, N.M. The plant is one of three now being built in the U.S. to enrich uranium fuel for nuclear powerplants using energy-efficient gas-centrifuge technology instead of gaseous-diffusion technology.