One lignite coal facility, lots of renewables come online in November

Great River Energy (GRE) commissioned the 106-MW Spritwood plant, which is powered by lignite coal, during November – and lots of wind and solar projects came online during the month as well, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC’s Office of Energy Projects released its monthly Energy Infrastructure Update on Dec. 22.

The report noted that Great River deployed the lignite fueled Spiritwood station in Stutsman County, N.D. The power generated is sold to the regional market and the steam to Cargill Malt and Dakota Spirit AgEnergy. Great River touts the plant as 60% efficient, compared to 35% efficient for many other conventional coal plants.

Spiritwood represents the only new coal-fired facility deployed during the first 11 months of 2014, according to the FERC data.

Also during November, 333 MW of wind power and 294 MW of solar energy were brought online. There has been 2,525 MW of wind and 2,203 of solar commissioned during the first 11 months of 2014.

Wind power is ahead of the same point in 2013 (when only 1,112 MW had been deployed). Solar power, however, is behind its pace for 2013 given that 3,054 MW of solar were commissioned during the first 11 months of 2013.

The rate of overall new power generating capacity being brought online in 2014 remains behind the pace of 2013, according to the FERC data. So far 10,926 MW of new generating capacity has come online in 2014, compared to 13,349 MW during the same point in 2013.

The FERC report also noted that a Wisconsin Energy (NYSE:WEC) subsidiary has completed its 140-MW natural gas-fired Valley Power Plant Unit 1 Repowering project in Milwaukee County, WI is online. Valley Power Unit 1 was converted from coal-fired to natural gas-fired.

Mega renewable projects deployed in California, Texas

There were a couple of renewable energy centers with a generating capacity in excess of 200 MW deployed in California and Texas. Meanwhile, a number of smaller renewable facilities were commissioned elsewhere during November.

Here is the FERC rundown:

MidAmerican Renewables 250 MW Topaz Solar Farms expansion project in San Luis Obispo County, CA is online. The earlier phases with a combined 300 MW came on line in February 2013 and in January 2014. Topaz Solar is the world’s largest solar facility with 550 MW total capacity.

The power generated is sold to Pacific Gas and Electric under long-term contract.

Stella Wind’s 182 MW Panhandle Wind Farm Phase II expansion project in Carson County, TX is online. The 218 MW Phase I came online in July 2014. Panhandle Wind now has 400 MW total capacity.

Origin Wind Energy LLC’s 150 MW Origin Wind Energy project in Murray County, OK is online. The power generated is sold to Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. under long-term contract.

Dominion Energy’s (NYSE:D) 20 MW Antelope West Solar Farm in Los Angeles County, CA is online. The power generated is sold to Pacific Electric and Gas Co. under long-term contract.

Castaic Lake Water Agency’s 3.5 MW Rio Vista WWTP Solar Phase II expansion project in Los Angeles County, CA is online. The 1 MW Phase I came online in January 2012. Rio Vista now has 4.5 MW total capacity. The power generated is sold to SunPower Corp. under long-term contract.

Putah Creek Solar Farms LLC’s 2.7 MW Putah Creek Solar project in Yolo County, CA is online.

Southwestern College’s 2.5 MW Southwestern College Chula Vista Solar project in San Diego County, CA is online. The power generated is used on-site at the campus.

Fresh Air Energy VII LLC’s 2.5 MW Logan County Community Solar Garden project in Logan County, CO is online. The power generated is sold to Xcel Energy under long-term contract.

• Fresh Air Energy VIII LLC’s 2 MW Mesa County Community Solar Garden project in Mesa County, CO is online. The power generated is sold to Xcel Energy under long-term contract.

Merced Solar LLC’s 1.5 MW Merced Solar project, and Mission Solar LLC’s 1.5 MW Mission Solar project, both in Merced County, CA are online. The power generated at both facilities is sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. under long-term contract.

Brick Standard LLC’s 5 MW Frenchs Landfill Solar project in Ocean County, NJ is online. This solar project is built on a capped landfill.

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.