Thursday 24 January 2013

Duke completes Los Vientos wind power projects in Texas
14 Jan 2013

Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy's Commercial Businesses, announced the completion of its largest-ever wind power construction projects, Los Vientos I and II in south Texas, adding 402 MWs (MW) to the company's renewables fleet.

"2012 was a very significant year for us", said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. "With five new wind power projects and three new solar power projects commissioned into service, we added 800 MWs of clean, emissions-free energy to our fleet last year alone. Now that Los Vientos I and II are on line, our total renewable power capacity grows to more than 1,700 MW, enough to power about half-million homes".

All of the output and associated renewable energy credits from the 200 MW Los Vientos I wind power project in Willacy County are being sold to San Antonio-based CPS Energy under a 25 year agreement. Austin Energy is buying all of the output and associated renewable energy credits from the 202 MW Los Vientos II wind power Project, sited in Willacy and Cameron Counties.

"We're proud to be partnering with CPS Energy and Austin Energy to bring renewable energy to this region", said Duke Energy Renewables Vice President Milton Howard.

"And, we couldn't have done it without the foresight of the leaders, landowners and people of Willacy County. Thanks to them, we were able to bring 600 jobs to the area during construction, and going forward, the Los Vientos projects will continue to boost economic development, support the local school districts, and be a source of dependable tax revenue for years to come".

Both phases of Los Vientos were completed and placed into service on time--based on customer agreements--in late December. Because of their geographical location, approximately 120 miles south of Corpus Christi and 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, these projects will generate the majority of their power during the day, when peak power demand is highest.

Duke Energy Renewables will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and community open house at the Los Vientos operations and maintenance building on Jan. 26.

In addition to the two Los Vientos wind farms, Duke Energy Renewables completed three other wind power projects in 2012, including:

  • 168-MW Ironwood wind power project in Ford County, Kan.
  • 131-MW Cimarron II wind power project in Gray County, Kan.
  • 69-MW Laurel Hill wind power project in Lycoming County, Pa.
  • Duke Energy also has three other wind power projects in Texas: Sweetwater in Nolan County; Ocotillo in Howard County; and Notrees in Ector and Winkler Counties. Since 2007, Duke Energy has invested more than $2.5 billion to grow its commercial wind and solar business.

Ontario electricity: Wind out-produces coal
11 Jan 2013

Wind turbines out-produced coal-fired power plants in Ontario last year for the first time.

Meanwhile, the underlying wholesale price of electricity crept up by 2.9%, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Over the past two years, it has risen 13%. The rise in wind power is set to continue, with more turbines due to come on stream, and Ontario's last coal-fired plants set to shut down at the end of this year.

The Ontario Power Authority has said that Ontario has close to 2,000 MWs of wind power in operation with another 3,800 MWs under development. In its year-end review, the IESO reported that wind turbines churned out 4.6 TWs of electricity in 2012 up from 3.9 TWs the year before. (A TW is a billion kW hours).

That meant wind supplied 3% of the province's power last year, out-producing coal at 2.8%. The numbers delighted the Canadian Wind Energy Association. "It's a sign of things to come", said vice president Brandy Giannetta. "We've really proven ourself as a resource".

But wind's increase presents some challenges to the province's power system, which sometimes has too much power flowing onto the grid. Energy consultant Bruce Sharp noted that when there's a surplus, wind turbines continue producing power but the system operators throttle back production at Bruce Power's nuclear plants-while still paying them for the lost production.

Meanwhile, Ontario Power Generation also spills water at some of its hydroelectric-electric stations to make room for the wind power on the grid. In effect, he said, that replaces low-cost hydroelectric power with higher-priced wind power. nuclear power is still the mainstay of Ontario's power supply, making up almost 57% of last year's supply compared with 55% the year before.

That could well grow this year, as two long-idle units at Bruce Power's nuclear station returned to production late in 2012. The wholesale price of power also crept high in 2012, the IESO reported. It rose to 7.37 ¢ a kW hour from 7.16 ¢. In 2011, it was 6.52 ¢. That price does not include delivery and regulatory charges.

Consumers don't pay that price directly. They either pay time-of-use rates, which are adjusted twice a year; or they buy their power from an energy retailer. But the wholesale price underlies consumer prices. Critics have blamed the increase in renewable power such as wind for the rise in prices.

Giannetta argued that's not the case, noting that the price of wind power for contracts going forward was trimmed this year from 13.5 ¢ a kW hour to 11.5 ¢. That's competitive with other types of new generation, she said.

N.S. gives green light to joint wind power plan
11 Jan 2013

A green energy partnership between a pair of Nova Scotia native communities received a key go-ahead from the province Friday. The Eskasoni First Nation received Energy Department endorsement for a 4.4 MW wind project it's developing in conjunction with the Millbrook band. The project was approved as part of the community feed-in tariff program, which encourages communities to develop and own renewable energy projects.

The program gives the projects a fixed price for the electricity they generate over a 20 year period. Millbrook First Nation already has department approval for a six-MW project on the same site, which the Truro-area band owns. Steve Parsons, general manager of Eskasoni's corporate division, said the project will get the band into the wind power business. "Working in conjunction with another First Nation just adds to the value of what we're trying to do", he said in an interview Friday.

Construction of both wind ventures is expected to begin in the second or third quarter, he said. Eskasoni and Millbrook announced in October that they were joining forces on small-scale wind development. Eskasoni had planned to build its project on another Truro-area site, at Camden, but its application was stalled by community opposition.

Millbrook chief Bob Gloade approached Eskasoni counterpart Leroy Denny about the possibility of moving the project to Millbrook's land. The move will enable the bands to share some project costs, including road construction and environmental assessments. "We've kind of merged with Millbrook in terms of sharing the same land and some economies of scale", Parsons said.

The Eskasoni project will have two turbines and Millbrook's will have three machines. The wind farms are slated to be operational in 2014. The partnership also involves juwi Wind Canada, the Canadian arm of a German renewable energy developer, and Community Wind Farms Inc, of Mahone Bay.

Mitsui to invest in Mexican wind power plant business
11 Jan 2013

Trading house Mitsui & Co, said Wednesday it will invest in a wind power project in Mexico involving France's EDF Energies Nouvelles S.A, to bolster its renewable energy business.

Under An Agreement with a local subsidiary of Edf Energies Nouvelles, Mitsui will buy a 50% stake for an undisclosed amount in Eoliatec Del Istmo S.a.p.i. De C.v., operator of the Bii Stinu Wind Project, which cost 5.1 billion Mexican pesos (about ¥35 billion).

The plant In Oaxaca is in an advanced stage of construction and scheduled to go online in June with a capacity of 164 MWs. Its output will be supplied to five major private companies in the country on a 15 year contract.

Pattern Energy starts providing wind power for Sempra
10 Jan 2013

Pattern Energy Group LP, a closely held energy developer, said its Ocotillo wind farm in southern California has begun providing power for Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric utility.

The 265 MW project in Imperial Valley entered operation last month, San Francisco-based Pattern said today in a statement. Ocotillo consists of 94 Siemens AG (SIE) turbines, and an additional 18 will be installed in the spring to provide enough energy for about 125,000 homes a year once fully operational, according to the statement.

SDG&E has a 20 year contract to purchase all of Ocotillo's power. The wind farm is the first clean-energy project to transmit power across the utility's 117 mile (188 km) SunRise Powerlink transmission line, which was completed in June and will eventually deliver 1,000 MWs of electricity into San Diego, Pattern said.

Lithuania wind power begins trading on Nord Pool Spot Exchange
8 Jan 2013

Electricity from Lithuanian wind turbines started trading on the Nord Pool Spot Exchange after the Energy Ministry authorized state-controlled Lietuvos Energija AB (LNR1L) to buy up power from local producers.

Trading started today on the exchange, which is owned by Nordic and Baltic transmission system operators, the ministry in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, said on its website. Lietuvos Energija's role is temporary, pending a public tender to choose a permanent wind power intermediary, it said.

"All produced wind power will be offered to the market", the Vilnius-based company said in on its own website. "That will ensure transparency, encourage the development of a free market and strengthen the role of the exchange".

Installed wind power capacity in Lithuania may double to 500 MWs by 2015, the Baltic nation's wind power association said in November. The expansion will help the country reduce its reliance on Russian electricity imports and offset a shortfall caused by the closure of nuclear capacity.

Grid operator Litgrid AB (LGD1L) said it would publish aggregate Lithuanian wind power production plans daily by 10 a.m, in Vilnius on its website.