POWER Digest (June 2010)

AES Secures PPA with Electricity Vietnam for 1,200-MW Coal Plant. AES Corp. subsidiary AES VCM Mong Duong Power Co. Ltd. in April signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with state power company Electricity Vietnam (EVN) for Mong Duong II, a proposed 1,200-MW coal-fired power plant. In support of this agreement, AES VCM has also entered into a supply agreement with the Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), the state-owned coal and mineral company, to supply locally sourced fuel to the facility. The facility will be located in the Quang Ninh province. Both the PPA and fuel supply agreements are for a 25-year term. All local approvals, including environmental permits for the project have been secured, and the company is now making progress on financing and EPC agreements. The project is expected to achieve commercial operation by the end of 2014.

According to estimates by EVN and published reports, demand for electricity in Vietnam in the past five years increased an average of 13.5% each year and is projected to grow an average of 15% annually over the next decade. Given historical shortages of supplies, demand for power has far outpaced gross domestic product growth during this same period, projected at over 6% this year, according to the Asian Development Bank.

ABB to Acquire Ventyx for $1 Billion. ABB on May 5 announced it would acquire Ventyx —a software provider to global energy, utility, and communications companies—for more than $1 billion from Vista Equity Partners. Ventyx, which has a large client base in the U.S. and European markets, is also well-known in the industry for planning and forecasting electricity needs. The company employs some 900 people and reported 2009 revenues of about $250 million. ABB plans to combine its related network management business within the Power Systems division with Ventyx to form a single unit for energy management software solutions. The company said that energy companies and utilities would benefit from the acquisition because they now had a single supplier of enterprise-wide information technology platforms and power automation systems.

Calpine to Acquire 5,000-MW Generation Assets from Pepco Holdings. Calpine Corp. on April 21 said it had agreed to buy 4,490 MW of power generation assets from Pepco Holdings Inc. for $1.65 billion plus adjustments. The purchase of the Conectiv Energy fleet, which includes 18 operating power plants and one plant under construction, is expected to close by June 30, 2010. The company said it would benefit from acquiring a clean fleet—it will switch the two Pepco coal plants to natural gas—at an attractive price. The purchased operating capacity would also give Calpine a leg in the PJM market, it said. The company stressed that it would not acquire Conectiv’s trading book, collateral requirements, or load-serving auction obligations, however. It also said it would assume no off-site environmental liabilities or pre-close pension liabilities.

E.ON to Sell U.S. Arm to PPL for $7.625 Billion. Germany’s largest power company, E.ON, on April 28 said it had entered into an agreement on the sale of E.ON U.S. to PPL Corp. for €5 billion ($7.625 billion). E.ON U.S. is a diversified energy services company that owns and operates Louisville Gas and Electric Co. (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU). PPL Corp. said in a statement LG&E and KU would maintain their existing headquarters and names, and that it was not considering downsizing as a result of the transaction.

The sale must be approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, the Virginia State Corporation Commission, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. E.ON is looking to reduce its economic net debt, which was up to €45 billion in 2009 from €18 billion at the end of 2006. If the transaction goes through, E.ON is on track to surpass its €10-billion target for asset sales. The deal was a “major step in its portfolio streamlining process,” E.ON said.

Wärtsilä to Supply Africa’s Largest Gas Engine Power Plant. Wärtsilä in March signed a €120 million contract to supply and install what it is calling the largest gas engine power plant ever to be installed on the African continent. The power plant, expected to come online before the end of 2011, will be located in Kribi, a seaport lying on the Gulf of Guinea coast in the Republic of Came-roon. The plant’s order was placed by independent power producer Kribi Power Development Co. (KPDC), an affiliate of AES Corp. The scope of supply includes Wärtsilä 18V50DF dual-fuel engines that will run primarily on gas. The electricity generated will be fed to the national grid and distributed to more than half a million consumers by AES SONEL, the privatized electric utility of Cameroon.

AMEC, EDF Sign Contract for New UK Nuclear Plants. International engineering and project management company AMEC in April signed a major contract with French company EDF Group to support its Architect Engineering operation for the proposed delivery of four new EPR nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell in the UK. The contract will run for 11 years, with an option to extend for a further four. Under the contract AMEC will work with EDF in France and the UK in the key areas of project management, engineering, and construction management. AMEC will also be responsible for assisting the EDF Group project management teams with engineering and site management activities, together with providing specific engineering studies for the non-nuclear sections of the power stations. EDF has said it wants to have its first UK reactors generating power by the end of 2017, provided the right investment framework is in place.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.