CSP Giants Form Alliance. Concentrating solar power companies Abengoa, BrightSource Energy, and Torresol Energy in early March formed the Concentrating Solar Power Alliance, an organization dedicated to educating U.S. regulators, utilities, and grid operators about the unique benefits of concentrating solar power (CSP) and of thermal energy storage. The U.S. has more than 500 MW of operating CSP plants and more than 1,300 MW of CSP plants under construction. The International Energy Agency estimates that CSP projects in development or under construction in more than a dozen countries (including China, India, Morocco, Spain, and the U.S.) total 15 GW.

JSC Institute Hydroproject to Refurbish Russian Hydro Plant. RusHydro subsidiary JSC Institute Hydroproject in March began an all-inclusive project to modernize the Kamskaya hydropower plant, which is part of the Volga-Kama cascade in Russia. About 17 of 23 new vertical hydraulic units have been already upgraded. JSC Institute Hydroproject will develop the all-inclusive modernization project taking into consideration the previous projects for reconstruction of hydroturbines, hydro and auxiliary equipment, hydro units, and dams. Design works will be finished in 2014.

APS Launches Pilot Battery Project. Arizona Public Service Co. on Feb 23 began testing a new 1.5-MWh shipping container–size energy storage system. The goal of the company’s two-year pilot project in Flagstaff, Ariz., will be to determine the benefits of storing electricity and putting it onto the grid during times of peak demand. In 2012, the system developed by lithium-ion battery maker Electrovaya Inc. will reside in an electrical distribution substation. At a later date, the system will be trucked a few miles up the road to support a 500-kW solar power plant, the Doney Park Renewable Energy Site.

Fortis to Acquire CH Energy Group in $1.5B Deal. Canada’s largest investor-owned distribution utility, Fortis, announced in mid-February that it entered into an agreement to acquire CH Energy Group for about $1.15 billion. CH Energy Group is an energy delivery company headquartered in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Its electric assets (which constitute approximately 77% of its total assets) include approximately 9,600 miles of distribution lines and more than 600 miles of transmission lines.

AEP Starts Up Ohio Gas Plant. American Electric Power (AEP) on Feb. 1 began commercial operation of the Dresden natural gas–fired power plant, a nominal 580-MW combined cycle generating unit. located near Dresden, Ohio. Including startup of the Dresden plant, AEP has added more than 4,800 MW of natural gas–fired capacity to its generating fleet in the past decade. Natural gas accounts for 24% of AEP’s total generating capacity. AEP purchased the partially constructed Dresden plant in 2007 for approximately $85 million from Dresden Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Dominion. AEP accelerated construction of Dresden in January 2011. Total costs for the plant were approximately $366 million.

Key EPC Contracts Signed for Texas Clean Coal Project. Summit Power Group’s Texas Clean Energy Project on Feb. 14 signed engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contracts and a 15-year operations and maintenance contract for its 400-MW power/poly-gen gasification project with 90% carbon capture near Odessa, Texas. The deal takes the project another step closer to financial closing and groundbreaking. The two, firm-price, turnkey EPC contracts that guarantee price, schedule, and performance for the integrated coal gasification combined cycle project were finalized in December by the project’s three EPC contractors: Siemens Energy Inc.; Selas Fluid Processing Corp., a subsidiary of The Linde Group; and SK Engineering & Construction, a major Korean contractor. The total value of the EPC contracts is approximately $2 billion.

Alstom Wins Contract for Malaysian Supercritical Coal Plant. Alstom on Feb. 27 secured a €830 million ($1.1 billion) contract as part of a consortium that includes Malaysian companies Mudajaya and Shin Eversendai that will build a coal-fired power plant in Tanjung Bin, Malaysia. Alstom will construct and commission the 1,000-MW supercritical steam turbine and generator and install a supercritical boiler, power plant auxiliaries such as mills and air preheaters, as well as proprietary environmental control systems. The power plant is scheduled to be commissioned in 2016. The Tanjung Bin power plant is the French energy company’s second contract for a supercritical coal-fired unit in Malaysia, following the order to build the Manjung power plant in March 2011, which is scheduled to come online in 2015.

DONG Energy to Sell 50% Stake in German Offshore Farm. Danish power company DONG Energy on Feb. 24 agreed to sell its 50% stake in the German offshore wind project, Borkum Riffgrund 1, in an agreement worth DKK4.7 billion ($841 million) to Kirkbi (for a 32% stake) and the Oticon Foundation (18% stake). Upon completion, the project will consist of 77 3.6-MW turbines supplied by Siemens Wind Power.

Dominion Mulls New $1B Gas Plant. Dominion Virginia Power on Feb. 29 said it would build a $1 billion combined cycle, natural gas–fired power station in Brunswick County, Va. The company will seek approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission later this year to build the 1,300-MW plant on a 205-acre site. When complete in 2016, the plant will replace power generated by coal units at two eastern Virginia stations that are slated for retirement.

Siemens to Supply Components for 4-GW Saudi Gas Plant. Siemens Energy on Feb. 21 said it received an order from the Hajr Project Co. worth more than $1 billion to supply components for the 4-GW IPP Qurayyah combined cycle power plant in Saudi Arabia. The order was placed by Samsung C&T, which will act as engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the project. Siemens will provide 12 SGT6-5000F gas turbines, 18 generators of the SGEN6-1000A series, and six SST6-4000 steam turbines together with the associated electrical systems. Commissioning of the six blocks is scheduled for 2014.

Toshiba, JSW Joint Venture to Supply Equipment for Indian Supercritical Plant. On Feb. 21, Toshiba JSW Turbine and Generator —a 75:25 joint venture between Japan-based Toshiba Corp. and India-based conglomerate JSW Group —received a contract from Indian state-owned energy service provider NTPC to supply equipment for the Kudgi Super thermal power project, Stage-I, in Karnataka, India. The value of the contract is estimated at Rs23bn ($468.6 million). Under the terms of the agreement, the firm will supply three 800-MW supercritical steam turbine and generator island packages for the project. Delivery of the equipment is expected to start in 2013.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.