POWER Notebook: Ohio Gas Plant Project in Jeopardy if Nuclear Bill Passes

New York City-based LS Power on July 15 said it would end a project to expand its natural gas-fired Troy power plant in Ohio if state lawmakers pass legislation to subsidize the state’s two nuclear power plants.

LS Power in a news release Monday said, “Handouts to nuclear plants jeopardize the economics of the other already economic generators, including the Troy facility, which could chill investment and lead to the unintended consequence of reduced reliability for Ohio’s electric generation fleet.”

LS Power has said it would spend more than $500 million to add about 500 MW of generation capacity to the 640-MW Troy plant in Luckey, Ohio, which it acquired from Dynegy in 2017. The company has said the plant’s expansion would create hundreds of construction jobs, and add about 20 permanent positions to the plant’s existing staff.

The Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee was scheduled to meet Monday to resume debate on the nuclear subsidy bill, House Bill 6, which passed the State House of Representatives in May.

FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., owns Ohio’s two nuclear plants—the 908-MW Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, and the 1,268-MW Perry plant northeast of Cleveland. FES, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018, has said it would shutter both nuclear plants, which have been uneconomic for several years, by the end of 2021 unless Ohio officials provide financial assistance to keep the plants in operation.

Four states in recent years have enacted programs to subsidize nuclear power: ConnecticutIllinois, New Jersey, and New York.

FES on July 1 said it would work with Ohio officials to keep its reactors in operation, even though a subsidy bill was not passed by the company’s June 30 deadline to buy fuel for the Davis-Besse plant. FES then said it wanted a nuclear bill passed by July 17, when the full state Senate is expected to be in session. FES has said closing the Ohio reactors could costs as many as 4,300 jobs.

Solar Plant Comes Online in Malaysia

Scatec Solar and its partners said July 15 that the group has connected another solar power plant to the grid in Malaysia. Scatec in a news release said the 66-MW Merchang plant is its third in Malaysia, giving the company 197 MW of solar generation capacity in the country.

“We are pleased to have reached another important milestone together with our partners in Malaysia,” Raymond Carlsen, Scatec Solar’s CEO, said in the release. “This also marks the completion of Scatec Solar’s first large-scale solar project in Southeast Asia, a market where we are working on several interesting opportunities.”

Scatec in its release said the Merchang plant is expected to provide about 94,000 MWh of electricity annually. Scatec entered the Malaysia energy market in late 2016, signing three, 21-year power purchase agreements with Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the country’s largest utility.

Algeria Planning to Build Nuclear Plant

Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab on July 15 said his country plans to build a nuclear power plant to take advantage of the country’s uranium assets. “Algeria’s uranium reserves are around 26,000 tons,” Arkab reportedly said during his visit to the Nuclear Research Center in the capital Algiers. “The government mulls developing the level of its capacity ahead of building the first power-generating nuclear plant.”

Arkab said the country has four research centers focused on nuclear development, mostly for non-energy purposes. The country at present gets most of its electricity from natural gas due to its large reserves of domestic gas.

Zambia Hydropower Plant Nearing Completion

Zambia’s energy minister on July 14 said China’s Sinohydro Corp. expects to finish construction of the 750-MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydropower plant next year. Matthe Nkhuwa said Sinohydro plans to turn the plant over to Zambian officials in 2020. The project will increase Zambia’s power generation to 3,750 MW.

“We are happy with the ongoing works by a Chinese enterprise, works done so far is at 67 percent,” Nkhuwa reportedly told China’s Xinhua news service. Nkhuwa told Xinhua that when Kafue Gorge Lower begins operating, the country can be a net power exporter in southern Africa.

Nkhuwa also told Xinhua that mapping of wind and solar farm sites in Zambia has been completed, as the country looks to add renewable power generation capacity.

—POWER staff