Bixby, Okla., Hires Lawyer to Oppose Wind Catcher Project
The City Council of Bixby, Okla., voted June 18 to hire a law firm to represent Bixby before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission so the city can add its opposition to American Electric Power’s $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Project to the record.
The city plans to ask the commission to either deny preapproving cost recovery for the project or stay its decision on the project until Bixby residents can be heard.
Wind Catcher consists of a 2-GW wind farm being built by Invenergy in the Oklahoma panhandle and a 360-mile to 380-mile 765-kV transmission line that would bring power from the wind farm to customers of two American Electric Power subsidiaries — Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Co. — in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
More: Tulsa World
innogy, Birdseye to Jointly Develop US Solar Projects
German company innogy said June 18 it has signed an agreement with Birdseye Renewable Energy to jointly develop 13 solar projects with a capacity of 440 MW in the Carolinas, Georgia and Mississippi.
The projects were in Birdseye’s pipeline and are in various stages of development. innogy has exclusive rights to acquire them after they are built.
innogy’s BELECTRIC subsidiary will construct the projects, as well as run and maintain the ones that its parent decides to buy.
AT&T Signs 300-MW Wind PPA with NextEra Subsidiary
AT&T said June 16 it has signed a power purchase agreement with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources for 300 MW from two new wind farms in Wilbarger and Hardeman counties in Texas.
AT&T announced the PPA at a groundbreaking ceremony for a wind farm in Webb County, Texas, from which it already had agreed to buy power. Its PPAs from that wind farm and wind farms in Duval County, Texas, and Caddo County, Okla., plus the PPA announced June 16 commit AT&T to buying 820 MW of wind power.
New England Clean Energy Connect Companies Sign Contracts
Hydro-Quebec and Avangrid’s Central Maine Power subsidiary said June 14 they have signed contracts with the three electric distribution companies that would buy the power annually transmitted by their New England Clean Energy Connect project.
The distribution companies — Eversource Energy, National Grid and Unitil — will file the contracts with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for its approval.
The New England Clean Energy Connect project would bring 9.45 TW of hydropower annually generated in Canada to Massachusetts via a transmission line through Maine. Massachusetts chose it to replace the Northern Pass transmission project in a clean energy solicitation after Northern Pass’ developers were unable to get permission to build their project in New Hampshire. (See Mass. Picks Avangrid Project as Northern Pass Backup.)
Consumers Energy Closing 2 Coal Units as Part of IRP
Consumers Energy said June 13 that the integration resource plan it filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission calls for it to close two coal-fired units at the Karn Generating Complex near Bay City in 2023 as part of its plan to eliminate the use of coal in its generation mix by 2040.
The company also said it intends to boost the amount of renewable energy in its generation mix from 11% today to 37% by 2030 and 43% by 2040. To help it do that, it said it will add 5,000 MW of solar energy through the 2020s.
Consumers also said it intends to use demand response, energy efficiency and grid modernization to help customers save money on their energy bills and reduce energy demand 22% by 2040.
More: Consumers Energy
Entergy Approved Talking Points Voiced by Actors Supporting Power Plant
Entergy New Orleans was directly involved with approving the talking points given to paid actors who spoke to the New Orleans City Council in support of a gas-fired power plant the company wants to build, according to documents released June 13.
The documents, which were released as part of the council’s investigation into the use of the actors, contain dozens of conversations about how to shape a perception of support for the power plant that Entergy officials appeared concerned didn’t actually exist.
Entergy has said it didn’t know about the use of the actors, and that Hawthorn Group, which it hired to do public relations work, hired Crowds on Demand, the company that provided them. In the documents, Hawthorn Group and Crowds on Demand don’t directly discuss paying people to support the power plant, but they do discuss how to answer questions about whether the supporters are paid.
More: The Times-Picayune
Viridity Breaks Ground on 2 New Jersey Storage Projects
Viridity Energy Solutions on June 4 broke ground on two 20-MW/20-MWh stand-alone utility-connected battery energy storage projects it will own and operate in New Jersey.
The Ormat Technologies subsidiary said the storage systems will be connected to Jersey Central Power & Light’s transmission grid and will provide real-time frequency regulation and other ancillary services to PJM.
Viridity said it expects to begin operating both systems in late 2018.
More: Viridity Energy
FERC OKs Atlantic Coast Pipeline Work in West Virginia
FERC on June 13 approved a June 8 request from Dominion Energy to do work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and supply header projects in some West Virginia waterways before warm-water fish spawning season ends July 1.
Dominion’s request indicated that it and the pipeline’s other developers, Duke Energy and Southern Co., already had secured fish spawning season restriction waivers for the work from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The approval came a day after three environmental groups asked FERC to halt construction of the pipeline and hold a new hearing on whether the project can proceed. The groups allege that work on the pipeline in West Virginia, which FERC authorized last month, violates the federal Endangered Species Act because of a court ruling that invalidated part of a required approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
NRG, Cypress Creek Team to Offer Businesses Solar Power
NRG Energy and Cypress Creek Renewables on June 12 announced a partnership to provide solar power to businesses in the Houston area.
Under their agreement, Cypress Creek will develop 25 MW of solar generation for NRG to market to its business customers. NRG already has one customer for the solar power — food-service company Sysco.
NRG said it expects the partnership will be fully operational by next year.
More: Houston Public Radio
Montana PSC Approves Hydro One’s Acquisition of Avista
The Montana Public Service Commission approved Hydro One’s acquisition of Avista 4-1 on June 12.
Avista owns 15% of generation Units 3 and 4 at the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont., and the commission’s approval included conditions designed to ensure their continued operation.
Commissioner Tony O’Donnell (R), whose district includes Colstrip, cast the dissenting vote. “I didn’t hear enough assurance that the Canadian government can’t interfere to shorten the length of Colstrip power plant’s operational life,” he said. The government of Ontario owns a minority stake in Hydro One.
Activist Investors Disclose Stake in Sempra
Activist investors Elliott Management and Bluescape Resources disclosed on June 11 that they have taken a combined stake of 4.9% in Sempra Energy and called the company highly undervalued, saying it could be worth from $139 to $158/share, which would amount to an additional $11 billion to $16 billion.
In a letter and presentation, the investors recommended that six new directors be added to Sempra’s board and presented a plan for Sempra to pursue asset sales of its international business lines and split into two companies — one focused on utilities and the other on natural gas infrastructure.
Sempra said it was reviewing the letter and presentation.
Foley Hoag Adds Carol Holahan to Energy & Cleantech Practice
Carol Holahan has joined Foley Hoag as counsel in its Energy & Cleantech practice, the law firm said June 4.
Holahan, who will work out of the firm’s Boston office, will focus on advising regional generators and other participants in the wholesale and retail competitive power markets on regional policy initiatives, changing environmental regulations, decommissioning and sale of plants, and matters pending before FERC.
In addition to fossil fuel generation, her practice will include renewable energy resources.
More: Foley Hoag
Fengate Commits $100 Million to Solar Development Partnership with PowerFin
Fengate Real Estate Asset Investments said June 11 it has committed $100 million in equity to a partnership it has formed with PowerFin Partners to develop solar projects in Texas.
The company said the commitment will fund the development and construction of PowerFin’s pipeline of solar projects.
Fengate also said it has acquired a 9.1-MWdc portfolio of operating solar projects in Austin and San Antonio from PowerFin to serve as the partnership’s seed investment.
Two Historic Groups Appeal Ruling in Tx Lawsuit
Preservation Virginia said June 11 it and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to seek a review of the May 24 federal court ruling that allows Dominion Energy to proceed with the Skiffes Creek Transmission Line Project.
The two groups last July sued the Army Corps of Engineers for violating the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act when it issued a permit for the project to Dominion. Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Corps had complied with both acts.
“As a steward of Historic Jamestowne and a voice for Virginia’s historic places since 1889, we are participating in this appeal to protect the historic, scenic and cultural integrity of the James River, the Colonial Parkway and Carter’s Grove, a National Historic Landmark,” Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth S. Kostelny said.
Eversource Submitting New Proposal to Buy Capacity on Gas Pipeline
Eversource Energy on June 10 notified the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission that it will submit an updated proposal to replace its agreement to purchase capacity on the proposed Access Northeast natural gas pipeline expansion.
The company decided to go ahead with the notification after the New Hampshire Supreme Court in May reversed the New Hampshire PUC’s October 2016 ruling that electric customers can’t pay for pipeline capacity on behalf of power generators.
Enbridge, which had proposed the pipeline expansion, suspended development of it as a result of the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s ruling and a similar ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Eversource said it would work with Enbridge and National Grid to propose a new pipeline expansion project.
Middle River Power Assembling Plan to Buy Navajo Generating Station
Joe Greco, senior vice president of Middle River Power, said June 7 that his company is putting together a plan to buy the Navajo Generating Station.
Greco made the statement to the board of directors of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, which oversees the Central Arizona Project, a system that brings Colorado River water to central and southern Arizona and purchases power from the Navajo plant.
More: The Associated Press
Judge Approves Website for FES Unsecured Creditors
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Ohio Alan Koschik on June 8 approved the creation and operation of an informational website for unsecured creditors in FirstEnergy Solutions’ bankruptcy case.
The site had been proposed by attorneys appointed to represent the official committee of unsecured creditors.
Koschik said the site will be important for smaller creditors who may not be able to afford an attorney to monitor the case.
More: The Plain Dealer
FERC Partially Reverses Transmission Incentive Order
FERC denied a request by CAISO and Pacific Gas and Electric to reverse an Aug. 24, 2017, decision denying financial incentives for four transmission improvement projects. But the commission did grant one aspect of the rehearing request: allowing abandoned plant incentives it had previously denied for the Estrella substation project.
In responding to the Sept. 25 rehearing requests, FERC said that upon further review, PG&E’s work on the Estrella substation was more than supporting work, so it granted the abandoned plant incentive. But the commission disagreed that it had overlooked the risks and challenges for the other four substation and transmission improvement projects.
MasTec Gets $500 Million Contract for Puerto Rico Work
The company expects the work will take a year to complete.
Avista Issues RFP for Renewable Energy Projects
Avista on June 6 issued a request for proposals from renewable energy project developers capable of constructing, owning and operating up to 50 average MW (aMW) through one or multiple proposals with a minimum net annual output of 5 aMW.
The company said it wants to buy new renewable energy resources to offset market purchases and fossil-fuel thermal generation. Proposals are due by June 20.
Section of Columbia Gas Transmission Pipeline Explodes
A section of TransCanada’s Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline in Moundsville, W.Va., exploded about 4:15 a.m. EDT on June 7.
TransCanada didn’t have any employees at the site at the time of the blast, which didn’t endanger any homes, officials from the Roberts Ridge Volunteer Fire Department told local news media.
TransCanada said the explosion could affect about 1.3 Bcfd of gas service.