Forecasting the direction of the U.S. electric power industry for 2007, much less the distant future, is like defining a velocity vector; doing so requires a direction and speed to delineate progress. In this special report, POWER’s first stab at prognostication, the editors look at current industry indicators and draw conclusions based on their more than 100 years of experience. To borrow verbatim the title of basketball legend Charles Barkley’s book: I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It.
The wind energy business is beginning to look as frenetic as the merchant gas-fired power business in the late 1990s—with some critical differences. If the 10 issues listed here are addressed soon, wind power may avoid a crash and burn similar to the one that beset the gas turbine business.
Renewables require rethinking just about everything/Torque-splitting drive train improves wind turbine reliability/Waste gas–burning engines reach milestone/Hybrid power plant targets pipeline losses/Power from paint/Gulf Coast Power Association conference report/Pat Wood talks about the challenges facing ERCOT
It’s said that pioneers take the arrows. In the case of Springerville Unit 3—a 418-MW (net) expansion of a Tucson Electric Power facility in Arizona and the first pulverized coal–fired unit built in the U.S. in more than a decade—the arrows were many. Although Tri-State (the developer), Tucson Electric (the host), and Bechtel Power (the EPC contractor) were wounded by delayed deliveries of major equipment, bankruptcy of a major supplier, and a labor shortage, the companies showed their pioneering spirit and completed the project ahead of schedule. For ushering in a new generation of clean and desperately needed baseload capacity, Springerville Unit 3 is POWER magazine’s 2006 Plant of the Year.
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.
Point Aconi’s circulating fluidized-bed boiler experienced erosion, corrosion, and fouling problems from the day it went on-line in 1993. After several frustrating years of unreliable operation, in late 1999, Nova Scotia Power discovered the right combination of engineering and fuel modifications. Today, after a switch to 80% petroleum coke and major boiler modifications, Point Aconi’s output exceeds its original nameplate rating. For having the vision and fortitude to plan and execute a multiyear, $20 million project to revitalize North America’s first in-service utility CFB boiler, Nova Scotia Power’s Point Aconi plant is the well-deserved winner of POWER magazine’s 2006 Marmaduke Award for excellence in O&M.
Southern California Edison and Bechtel resurrected the 1,054-MW Mountainview power project after a two-year hiatus while meeting aggressive budget and schedule constraints. Edison exercised its option to purchase the project after regulatory approvals were received at light speed, and construction resumed the very day approval was granted. Residents of California’s Inland Empire will enjoy their air conditioners this summer because Mountainview was transformed from a wasteland into a productive plant.
It would be easy to dismiss Linden—which is powered by now-ubiquitous GE 7FA gas turbines and D11 steam turbines—as just another cookie-cutter combined-cycle plant. But its size (1,240 MW), key location near New York City, and use of reclaimed water for all cooling water needs makes Linden deserving of recognition as one of POWER’s Top Plants of 2006. Perhaps its most interesting story is how the project survived more than five years from groundbreaking to commissioning.
Commercial operation of PacifiCorp’s first new power plant in more than 20 years coincided with the company’s acquisition by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company this past March. Currant Creek treads lightly on the environment, provides needed power to PacifiCorp’s eastern control area, and has demonstrated its commitment to be a good corporate citizen of the local community. By any account, Currant Creek is a model for how to develop a power project.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogeneration facility supplies critical electricity and steam to New York City. Situated on an historic site, the plant has earned a series of awards and was the first cogeneration plant to be accepted into both the U.S. EPA National Environmental Performance Track and OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program in 2005. Through Delta Power’s unique asset management approach that brings added value to projects, BNYC has reinvented itself from a struggling, prematurely aging facility into one of the nation’s leading plants.