Mergers, EPA carbon plan generated much attention during 2014


Mergers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, cheap natural gas and the polar vortex were among the most noteworthy generation stories of 2014.

** EPA Clean Power Plan: In June EPA issued its proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power generation sources. The program calls for individual states to draft and implement their own plans to cut CO2 30% by 2030. EPA received millions of comments by Dec. 1. Many observers expect the plan to be litigated extensively.

** Mergers: Whether for economies of scale or the need to comply with more stringent regulations, electric companies are increasingly looking to get bigger. Probably the biggest announced combination of the year involved the energy business of Alstom and General Electric (NYSE:GE).

** Polar vortex: Among other things, 2014 is the year when the term ‘polar vortex’ entered the energy lexicon. One of the early mentions of the polar vortex in GenerationHub came in a Jan. 6, 2014, article that mentioned the National Weather Service was predicting extreme wind chill values from the Northern Plains to Central Appalachians.

Subzero temperatures in many areas triggered Mid-Atlantic spot power prices in excess of $268/MWh. New England and New York City also recorded spot power prices above $220/MWh on Jan. 7, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Seldom-used oil-fired power plants were pressed into service. Many analysts would cite the polar vortex as evidence for the continued need for conventional baseload coal and nuclear power plants.

Coal retirements: Between 2012 and 2020, about 60 GW of coal-fired capacity is projected to retire in the Annual Energy Outlook 2014 reference case, which assumes implementation of the EPA Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), as well as other existing laws and regulations, EIA has said.

The rise of natural gas:  Natural gas continues to be extremely cheap, and it continues to dominate construction of new baseload power plants in the United States. This is true for both regulated electric utilities and independent power producers. IPPs are embracing gas in regions from California to Texas to PJM.

Renewable energy goes mainstream: Despite a temporary lapse in certain tax credits for renewable energy, wind and solar have still accounted for more than 40% of the new electric generating capacity commissioned during the first 11 months of 2014. In addition, major companies like Dominion (NYSE:D) are among those pursuing offshore wind energy projects with the Interior Department.

Questions about nuclear future: Entergy (NYSE:ETR) is scheduled to cease generation at its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant Dec. 29. It joins other recent nuclear retirements such as the Edison International (NYSE:EIX) San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in California, the Dominion Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin and the Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) Crystal River 3 plant in Florida.

The spate of the retirements, the impact of cheap natural gas and the age of the domestic nuclear fleet have stimulated worries about nuclear energy’s future in the United States. That’s despite new nuclear generation that’s expected to come online in Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina in upcoming years.


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2014 Articles

Harvard Law School professor pays Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional


Laurence H. Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University and former mentor to Barack Obama, said in an article last week that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

3 SKorea workers die at nuke plant construction site


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Three South Korean workers died Friday after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site for a nuclear plant being built by South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company, which has come un...

UMaine in business of certifying turbine blades


ORONO, Maine (AP) — The University of Maine has tested its largest wind turbine blade to date. UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center completed static strength testing this month of a 184-foot-long wind turbine...

Mergers, EPA carbon plan generated much attention during 2014


Mergers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, cheap natural gas and the polar vortex were among the most noteworthy generation stories of 2014.

Developer opens Ohio review for 800-MW, gas-fired project


Clean Energy Future-Lordstown LLC plans an 800-MW, gas-fired power project, and on Dec. 24 applied with the Ohio Power Siting Board for certain routine waivers it needs before filing a full siting application for this proj...

New England utility exec named to Vermont PSB


A woman who worked for Vermont's Department of Public Service for 17 years is going to become the next member of the utility-regulating Public Service Board. The appointment of Sarah Hofmann was announced Monday by Gov. Pe...

Brown picks aide to lead troubled California utility board


Gov. Jerry Brown named a former adviser on Tuesday to be the next head of California's troubled utilities commission, replacing a regulatory chief accused of back-channel dealings with utilities. Michael Picker, a former a...

Washington state carbon emissions dropped in 2011


Greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, according to the latest figures released by the state. The latest...

Group wants state regulators recused from PNM case


State regulators in less than two weeks are to begin deliberating a proposal that calls for shutting down part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that serves more than 2 million customers in the ...

Vermont Yankee plant prepares to shut down


The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is getting ready to shut down. Its owner, Entergy Corp., says it is closing the plant for economic reasons. The plant in Vernon is expected to disconnect from the regional power grid Monday.

PSEG Solar to acquire Maryland solar project from juwi


PSEG Solar Source will acquire a 12.9-MW solar energy facility near Waldorf, Maryland from juwi solar (JSI). The PSEG Waldorf Solar Energy Center will increase the capacity of PSEG Solar Source's portfolio to 123-MW.

PG&E discloses more emails with state regulators


California's largest power utility released a dozen more emails Monday that it said showed improper back-channel discussions between the utility and top state regulators.

Indianapolis airport solar farm expansion completed


Contractors have finished bringing online dozens of acres of solar panels at Indianapolis International Airport, solidifying its status as the home of the nation's largest airport-based solar farm.

French power company to pay $772M in bribery case


A French power and transportation company has agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects, the Justice Department said Monday.

Nebraska nuclear plant back online after short outage


The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is back online less than a week after its main generator unexpectedly shut down as a precaution.

Ameren Missouri plans $135M in energy efficiency


Missouri's largest electric company said Monday that it plans to invest $135 million in energy efficiency programs for customers over a three-year period.

TEPCO completes nuclear fuel assemblies removal from Fukushima 4


Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it has safely removed the fuel assemblies from the most damaged nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

B&W Vølund to build waste-to-energy power plant in Scotland


In a consortium with Interserve, Babcock & Wilcox Co.’s (B&W, NYSE:BWC) subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S (B&W Vølund), will engineer, procure and construct (EPC) a waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant f...

SKorea holds N-plant drills against cyber threats


South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company said it began drills Monday against possible cyberattacks after online threats of attack against its plants.

PSC approves solar power project


The Public Service Commission has approved solar power project planned by Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric in Mercer County.

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