POWER’s Top 10 Most-Read Stories from 2018

There’s never a dull moment in the power industry, and like most years, 2018 was filled with many interesting developments. As it has been for more than 135 years, POWER was there to break the news. The following 10 articles were the most-read online stories of the year.

#10: New York Denies Air Permit for New Gas-Fired Power Plant (8/7/2018)

Competitive Power Ventures’ (CPV’s) Valley Energy Center—a natural gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, New York—had planned to ramp up to full operations in August, but the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied the plant’s request for renewal of its air state facility permit because it lacked a federal Title V air permit. CPV sued DEC and asked for a hearing on the matter, seeking an injunction that would allow the plant to operate. The state Supreme Court in mid-August said the plant could resume startup tests pending a decision on the federal air permit. The facility achieved commercial operation on October 1, but questions remain regarding the permit situation.

#9: Report: Human Error to Blame in Fatal India Plant Accident (7/23/2018)

An internal report from NTPC Ltd.—India’s largest power utility with an installed capacity of 52,946 MW—said an “error in judgment” by plant operators led to an explosion at its Feroze Gandhi Unchahar Thermal Power Station in November 2017 that resulted in the deaths of 45 workers.

#8: AEP Will Close Ohio Coal Plant Early (10/10/2018)

American Electric Power (AEP) confirmed in October that it will close its coal-fired Conesville Power Plant in Ohio by May 31, 2020. AEP said Units 5 and 6 at the plant, which were originally scheduled to shut down in 2022, will likely close in May 2019, with Unit 4 following in May 2020. All three units began commercial operation between 1973 and 1978.

#7: Efficiency Improvements Mark Advances in Gas Turbines (1/3/2018)

The evolution of gas turbines has often been in lockstep with market dynamics. As power producers have increasingly turned to natural gas as their fuel of choice, turbine manufacturers have pressed to keep pace, knowing generators want reliability and availability along with reductions in carbon emissions. This article from the January issue of POWER touched on technology upgrades, including designs that emphasize faster starts, quicker ramp-ups, increased efficiency, and better performance.

#6: Plagued by Grim Challenges, Vogtle Nuclear Expansion Lags Behind Schedule, Says Oversight Consultant (12/6/2018)

A consulting firm tasked with construction oversight of the two-unit Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion in Georgia told regulators that the project faces major challenges that are poised to derail its schedule and ramp up costs. In revealing testimony filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission’s public interest advocacy staff on Nov. 30, Donald Grace, vice president of engineering for Cost Plus Technology—Nuclear Construction Oversight, suggested the project faces several potentially debilitating challenges that could cause delays and drive up costs. Foremost among them are labor shortages.

#5: How the Vogtle Nuclear Expansion’s Costs Escalated (9/24/2018)

The project to expand the two-unit Plant Vogtle nuclear power station in Georgia with two new AP1000 reactors has suffered debilitating delays and mounting costs. This article chronicles the cost escalations from its inception in 2006 through August 2018. Early estimates pegged the units at $14.3 billion, but that is sure to be exceeded. Some recent analysis suggests the project will surpass $27 billion by the time it’s completed.

#4: Six Forces Disrupting the Power Sector (2/1/2018)

Multiple disparate trends are forcefully reshaping power systems around the world. Electricity markets are transforming, technologies advancing, industries converging, consumption patterns changing, environmental concerns increasing, and “prosumers” emerging. This article from the February issue of POWER suggests power companies must innovate and evolve to deal with the disruptions.

#3: Dry Fork: A Model of Modern U.S. Coal Power (8/1/2018)

Dry Fork Station began commercial operation as a swath of older, less-efficient U.S. coal plants contemplated retirement amid a flood of environmental rules. This article from the August issue of POWER recognizes Dry Fork Station as a 2018 Top Plant. Designed with foresight, this quintessential modern American coal generator emits few pollutants, discharges no water, reuses its coal ash—and now, it is poised to demonstrate carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration.

#2: MHPS Tops GE, Siemens in Gas Turbine Market (5/4/2018)

The gas turbine market has been difficult for original equipment manufacturers, but Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) has risen to the challenge. A report from Barclays Plc says MHPS received more than half of all global orders for gas-fueled turbines in the first quarter of 2018, the company’s best-ever performance. And the trend has continued. “This is the first time in the history of our industry that Mitsubishi’s sitting at POWER-GEN in December with No. 1 market share year-to-date globally for all gas turbine sizes,” Paul Browning, CEO of MHPS Americas, told POWER during an exclusive interview on Dec. 5.

#1: Siemens Plans Temporary Shutdown of Power & Gas Division (5/7/2018)

Siemens, one of the world’s largest turbine manufacturers, said it would temporarily shut its Power & Gas (PG) division operations worldwide in an effort to cut costs. The Germany-based energy giant in a May 7 news release said, “The shutdowns are part of a comprehensive package of measures, which also includes issues such as travel costs, sponsoring, [and] participation in trade fairs and investments.” Furloughs were reportedly staggered and amounted to about one week of time off per employee, which was allowed to be taken as paid vacation or unpaid time off, mainly during the month of July.