Executive Insight, Generation

North Carolina muni utilities want more time to build peaker power plants

The North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency and its 32 member municipalities on Jan. 10 petitioned the North Carolina Utilities Commission to extend a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued in February 2015.

That certificate authorized NCEMPA and/or its participants to install up to 14.67 MW of additional diesel-fired generating capacity (for a total generating capacity of 40 MW) at or near customers’ premises during a two-year period ending Feb. 26, 2017. Under that order, the capacity of each facility was to be 2.5 MW or less and the construction was to be completed on or before Feb. 26, 2017.

The certificate also requires the petitioners to provide individual site information to the State Clearinghouse, obtain all necessary local, state and federal permits prior to construction and installation of any generating facility, imposes certain requirements for facilities proposed to be located at a location near, rather than at, the site of a customer, and requires the filing of annual facilities reports with the commission.

The current certificate extended a certificate issued by the commission in February 2013 (the “Original Certificate”), authorizing the petitioners to install a maximum of 35 MW of generating capacity. To date, the petitioners have constructed and installed facilities having an aggregate generating capacity of 25.33 MW pursuant to the original certificate, while no generating capacity has been installed under the current certificate.

At this point, the petitioners said they plan to install about 6 MW of generating capacity in calendar year 2017 and may install up to an additional 8 MW of capacity in calendar year 2018.

The purpose of such generating facilities was and is to enable petitioners to generate their own electricity and provide the same to the customer at the time of the monthly coincident peak with Duke Energy Progress, the time when the petitioners experience their highest costs for purchased power. As a result, they reduce purchases of electricity during peak periods and otherwise enhance their ability to obtain lower wholesale costs.

They now want authorization to construct and operate an additional maximum of 14.67 MW of additional generating capacity (for a total installed capacity of 40 MW) at or near customers’ premises for the purpose of reducing purchases of electricity during peak periods and otherwise enhancing the ability of the petitioners to provide a reliable and economic power supply, provided that the capacity of each generator is 2.5 MW or less and the construction is completed by Feb. 26, 2019.