Renewable energy dominates March capacity projects

All new electric generating capacity installed nationally during the month of March involved renewable energy projects, according to a monthly report from FERC.

According to the Energy Infrastructure Update from FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, about 366 MW of new electric generation, either new builds or expansion projects, started operation during March. Of that total, coal, nuclear and natural gas accounted for zero megawatts, according to the report issued April 20.

The natural gas pipeline portion of the report, however, did note that Columbia Gas received authorization to build a project to serve Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) planned 1,300-MW combined-cycle power plant in Warren County, Va.

The electricity news, however, was all about renewables in March.

There were 265 MW of wind power that entered service during the month. There was also 56 MW of geothermal steam power; 25 MW of solar and 20 MW of biomass energy, according to the update.

The report notes that the 176-MW second phase of Iberdrola’s 304-MW Blue Creek Wind Farm in Ohio was completed during March. The 128-MW first phase of the project came online in December 2011. The power generated is contracted to a FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) subsidiary.

Another major wind project to start operation during March was Gamesa Energy USA’s 80-MW Pocahontas Prairie Wind project in Pocahontas County, Pa.

On the geothermal front, EnergySource LLC’s 50-MW Hudson Ranch I project in Imperial County Calif., is online. Hudson Ranch I is the first geothermal power plant completed in California’s Salton Sea resource area in more than 20 years. The plant’s power output is contracted for 30 years to the Salt River Project in Arizona.

Ameresco, Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy’s 20-MW Savannah River Site (SRS) Biomass Cogeneration Facility in Aiken, S.C., is online. The biomass plant is powered by local forest residue and wood chips, replacing an inefficient coal-fired power station and oil-fired boilers at SRS.

Also during the month, various solar projects came online in New Jersey, Tennessee and California.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.