Generation leftovers and updates

Here are some issues left over from the recent quarterly earnings season and other issues being tracked by GenerationHub.

** Wisconsin Energy (NYSE: WEC) is interested in repowering its coal-fired Valley power plant with natural gas.

CEO Gale Klappa said during the annual shareholders meeting May 3 that the company is looking to upgrade a 1940s vintage gas pipeline in the vicinity of the plant, which serves as an energy source for Downtown Milwaukee.

“The project that I just talked about the upgrading of the pipeline would allow us the flexibility when completed to actually have enough natural gas being distributed into the Valley to be able to potentially convert the Valley Power Plant from coal to natural gas,” Klappa said in a transcript posted by Seeking Alpha.  

“We continue to have that under review and of course at today’s low natural gas prices, if they were to stay where they are today, a conversion would certainly look promising,” Klappa said.

** The deputy mayor of Newark, N.J., has voiced support for a 655-MW natural gas power plant that Hess (NYSE: HES) hopes to build on a brownfield site. Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Adam Zipkin said recently that “independent experts” have looked at the project have determined the plant would not hurt the air quality around Newark because older, more polluting generating units would run less often. The project will bring construction jobs and other economic benefits to the area, Zipkin said.

The city’s planning board has endorsed the project and City Council could take up the issue in June. There are still aspects of the project – such as approval of an easement agreement – that require council consideration, a city spokesperson said May 14.

** Exelon (NYSE: EXC) is still bullish on its nuclear uprate program, a spokesperson noted recently in response to a GenerationHub question. “Nuclear uprates remain a key component of Exelon’s growth strategy because they allow us to introduce additional clean energy as it is needed at a much lower cost than building a new nuclear power plant and without the need for loan guarantees,” the spokesperson, said in a May 11 email.

“In 2009, Exelon started its current $3.3 billion fleet-wide uprate program, which is expected to add 1,175 to 1,300 MW of clean nuclear power through 2017. This is roughly equivalent to a new nuclear reactor at about half the cost of building one,” the spokesperson said.

** Entergy (ETR) is still awaiting Department of Justice approval for its purchase of the Hinds natural gas power plant in Mississippi and the Hot Springs gas power facility in Arkansas. Entergy announced in spring 2011 that its subsidiaries had agreed to buy the plants from KGen Power.

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.