Archive: Business


Shaving load peaks from the substation

The first megawatt-class sodium sulfur (NaS) battery placed in service in North America was installed this June in Charleston, W.Va. The 1.2-MW system—comprising the battery and a bidirectional inverter—can be discharged during the day to provide 7.2 MWh of on-demand power for shaving peak loads and be recharged at night. It’s no longer true that electricity can’t be stored, except in small quantities.


Mandatory reliability rules are coming. Are you ready to comply?

An extremely reliable North American bulk power system—one that consistently delivers uninterrupted power to every user—is not a dream that must be made reality. To a large extent, that is what we have today. With the exception of infrequent (and therefore, newsworthy) outages, the system has never been more dependable. Nevertheless, with the great northeast blackout of August 14, 2003, still fresh in memory, Congress saw fit to include electric reliability measures in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.


How accurate are your reported emissions measurements?

Complying with permitted emissions limits may be the most significant operations risk for a power plant. As limits are slowly ratcheted downward, understanding the accuracy and variation of measured pollutant levels becomes even more important. To avoid misunderstandings, regulators and plant owners should factor measurement uncertainty into air quality permit numbers both as the permit is formulated and preceding any subsequent modifications.


How to conduct a plant performance test

Performance testing after initial start-up has value well beyond the short-term goal of validating equipment guarantees—it’s your only opportunity to establish the baseline performance of the overall plant and many of its major systems. Corporate bean counters may be interested in short-term results, but a good plant engineer understands that a thorough performance test will be useful for many years. Here’s your guide to each facet of a performance test—plus pitfalls to avoid.



Renewable contracts merit longer terms

The length of term allowed for power sales contracts is a critical determinant of the ability of states to meet their increasingly ambitious renewable power targets. Many utilities advocate limiting terms to 10 or perhaps 15 years for renewable energy contracts, emphasizing the "flexibility" that shorter terms offer. In contrast, contract terms of 20 or […]

ISA/EPRI conference offers a smorgasbord of control cuisines   

This year’s main course, as usual, was instrumentation and controls. Side dishes of digital nuclear plant controls, plant controller and IT security, corrosion monitoring, and model predictive control added their own distinctive flavors. There was something for every taste, from the theoretical to the practical.


Profiling your plant engineering staff

The latest benchmarking study by the EUCG examines the engineering and technical staffing of 62 plants, 92% of which burn coal. If you benchmark your units, plants, or fleet, the results may raise some eyebrows. But they also may help justify your plea for more intellectual capital during the upcoming budgeting cycle. Though the detailed results of the study are proprietary to EUCG member companies that participated in it, POWER was given access to the complete findings. If you want details at the plant/unit level, you’ll have to join the EUCG and participate in the study, which is ongoing.


Global Monitor (July/August 2006)

Russia’s new nuclear navy;Russia’s old nuclear navy; First LMS100 fired up by Basin Electric;More Jenbacher gensets to Hungary; A baseload-size wind farm?; EEI bestows Edison Awards; POWERnotes

Mergers present challenges—and opportunities—for plant managers

The sale or merger of any company takes its toll on employees. Though it’s merely a hassle adapting to a different T&E form, the sudden uncertainty about health-care coverage and pension can be truly stressful. For plant managers, the impact is even greater—adapting to a new budgeting process and reporting requirements, not to mention answering hundreds of subordinates’ questions about the future, even before the deal closes. However, plant managers may actually end up better off as a result of a merger or acquisition.


World-class teaching lab prepares next generation of plant operators

The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades near Philadelphia has been training power plant operations professionals for 112 years, and its graduates hold top positions at many major gencos, refineries, equipment suppliers, and design and construction companies. Testimonials indicate that it provides one of the best models for training tomorrow’s plant operators.