POWER [January, 1 2012]

Cover Stories

U.S. Confronts Pipeline Gaps While Europe Juggles Renewables and Debt

U.S. optimism has been restored by reports of abundant, reasonably priced natural gas to fuel most new generation; however, huge gaps in the fuel delivery system (thousands of miles of pipelines are needed) will soon challenge gas plant development. Meanwhile, the cloud of sovereign debt hangs over all major capital projects in Europe, where the UK moves ahead with new nuclear projects while many of its neighbors shut the door on nuclear and struggle to finance their commitment to renewables.


China’s 12th Five-Year Plan Pushes Power Industry in New Directions

The Five-Year Plan is the expression of the centralized planning goals for China’s economy. The 12th Five-Year Plan, approved by the Chinese Government on March 14, 2011, established many social and economic goals, including significant expansion of the country’s power generation industry in many new directions.

Editors Select Top Five Stories of 2011

The POWER editorial staff's picks for the most significant stories of 2011.

EPRI Bridges Industry R&D Gaps

The technologies used to generate and distribute electricity will be radically transformed during the coming decade. Amid that change, the power industry must continue to meet customer reliability, safety, and cost-of-service expectations. Achieving the right balance among these often-conflicting goals is the primary focus of every utility. The Electric Power Research Institute is helping utilities achieve that balance with R&D programs for many new and emerging technologies.

Navigant Announces Coal-Fired Generation Operational Excellence Awards

Navigant’s Operational Excellence Awards are presented annually to those North American coal-fired generation plants that have demonstrated excellence in cost-efficient reliable plant performance over the preceding five-year period. The data used to select the winners derives from Navigant’s Generation Knowledge Service fossil database.

PRBCUG Small Plant of the Year: Muscatine Power & Water

Employees at the 293-MW Muscatine Power & Water plant combine a positive attitude with an aggressive focus on workplace safety, inspired by the motto: “We all can adapt, adopt, and improve to meet the challenges head on to provide our customers with reliable power.” The facility began using Powder River Basin coal in 1993, and the staff have learned effective techniques to use it safely.

Real-time Proactive Safety in Construction

For each of the past 10 years, nearly 1,200 U.S. construction workers have died as the result of injuries received on the job. Of these fatalities, 25% involved heavy equipment—most categorized as struck-by incidents. Remote sensing and visualization technology promises to improve worker situational awareness on congested and busy work sites.

The U.S. Military Gets Smart Grid

At home and abroad, U.S. military microgrid and smart grid projects are driven by energy security concerns. The pace of such projects, however, can be slow, and the potential for civilian grids to benefit from lessons learned and technologies developed for these important installations may be limited.



Upbraiding the Utilities

Yes, you’ve read it right. Upbraiding, not upgrading.

New Products

A Wireless Cellular Controller

Xenon has introduced the T925 Wireless Cellular Controller for connecting remote sites with central control and monitoring stations through cellular networks. A T925 remote communications network eliminates the need to…

Advanced PV Tracking System

SunPower has introduced the SunPower C7 Tracker, a solar photovoltaic (PV) tracking system that concentrates the sun’s power seven times to achieve what the company claims could be “the lowest…

Handheld Vibration Meter

Columbia Research Laboratories has introduced the Model VM-300 vibration meter, a general purpose vibration-measuring instrument designed for periodic routine checks of industrial equipment where portability and ease of use are…

Nonmetallic Pump/Tank Carts Caustics, Acids

A new nonmetallic Mobile Pump/Tank Cart from Vanton Pump and Equipment Corp. transfers wastewater and caustic/acidic chemicals with no corrosion and ultrapure fluids with no contamination. All fluid contact surfaces…

Universal Voltmeter Kit

HDE’s newly launched DVM-80UVK Universal Voltmeter Kit expands features of the DVM-80 series voltmeter and includes several accessories that enable voltmeter and phasing operations for virtually all overhead and underground…

V-Return Style Conveyor Belt Tracking System

ASGCO, a manufacturer of proprietary bulk conveyor components and accessories, announced a new addition to its line of Tru-Trainer conveyor belt tracking idlers: a V-Return style of the company’s Dual…

Legal & Regulatory

Green Technology = Green Jobs?

In discussing implementation by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) of California’s new renewable energy law, CPUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon urged consideration of the economic, technical, and political consequences…

Focus on O&M

Asian Sub-Bituminous Coal Users’ Group Formed

Over the past 11 years, the Powder River Basin Coal Users’ Group (PRBCUG) has grown to become the voice of North American generating companies that are dedicated to the safe and efficient use of PRB coal. POWER, the group’s media sponsor, has reported on the PRBCUG’s annual meetings, which are colocated with the ELECTRIC POWER Conference & Exhibition each year. POWER also reports annually on the group’s coal plant of the year award. For 2011, in the large plant category the award went to Kansas City Power & Light’s Iatan Unit 2 (see our August 2011 issue); the small plant category winner, Muscatine Power & Water, is profiled in this issue, beginning on page 56.

Condenser Life Cycle Seminar

The November issue of POWER featured a special section titled “Condenser Life Cycle.” That set of four articles covered topics including condenser performance, operation and maintenance (O&M), failure mechanisms, and…


In “Siemens Releases ‘ShapingPower’ Option for Renewables Integration” (December 2011), the Figure 3 callouts for wind and solar were reversed. POWER regrets the error. A corrected version can be found…

Level Switches Keep Electrostatic Precipitators Online

Measuring the level of dust and fly ash collected in electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) is a very difficult technical problem. At one utility, level switches were so unreliable that operators could not trust their readings because failures were so frequent. When a switch did fail, the precipitator would often clog up, costing the utility up to $100,000 in downtime and repair costs.

Marmaduke Award Trophy Presented

The 2011 Marmaduke Award winner was CTG Universidad, a two-unit combustion turbine plant built in the early 1970s in Monterrey, Mexico. The award was made to the plant in recognition of its upgrade of one 14-MW unit to operate as a synchronous condenser, thus relaxing power restrictions caused by a lack of sufficient reactive power production in the north of the city. More reactive power production by this urban plant also allows delivery of more power produced by efficient combined cycle plants located outside the city, because it reduces the amount of reactive power that must be moved over transmission lines.

Global Monitor

Australia Levies Landmark Carbon Tax

After more than a decade debating whether to pass a carbon-limiting law, Australia’s Senate in November voted in a landmark bill that will impose a price on carbon emissions. The…

GE Uses Steel Mill Gases to Power Turbine

The world’s steel industry is power-hungry. Using energy both to supply heat and power for plant operations and as a raw material for the production of blast furnace coke, the…

NRC to Implement Lessons Learned from Fukushima

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October directed staff to begin implementing seven safety recommendations put forth by the federal body’s Near-Term Task Force on lessons learned from the…

PJM Completes Unique Dual-Primary Control Centers

Swift technology developments in the power sector and increasingly sophisticated security threats have prompted regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection to switch from its aging centrally dispatched legacy system to two…

POWER Digest (January 2012)

South Korea, China Poised to Make Colossal Investments in Wind Power. South Korea, a nation that recently announced it would spend 1 trillion won ($884 million) on feed-in tariffs for…


After years of political wrangling, coal-rich Australia in November passed legislation that will require the nation’s top 500 polluters, starting in July 2012, to pay a tax at a fixed…

U.S.-China Solar Trade Dispute Gets Thornier

A trade row between the Chinese government and solar panel makers around the world intensified in December. As China’s Ministry of Commerce refuted allegations that the Chinese government uses illegal subsidies, discounts for raw materials, preferential loans, tax incentives, and currency manipulation to drive down prices and amplify exports of Chinese solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) affirmed the U.S. solar industry is “materially injured” by imports, at “less than fair value,” of Chinese crystalline silicon PV cells and modules.

World Energy Outlook Forecasts Great Renewables Growth

Driven by policies to limit carbon emissions, as well as government subsidies, the share of worldwide nonhydro renewable power is set to grow from just 3% in 2009 to 15%…

Speaking of Power

My Top 10 Predictions for 2012

The New Year will be pivotal for the power generation industry, as you will read in our 2012 Industry Forecast (p. 26) and my list of predictions below. Looking back over the past year, I again gave myself a B+ on my 2011 predictions (see p. 33 for a rundown of my individual scores).

GBR Reports