Agencies Publish Final EIS on Energy Corridor Designation in the West

In late November, four federal agencies released a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Final PEIS) proposing to designate more than 6,000 miles of energy transport corridors on federal lands in 11 western states.

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The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Defense prepared the Final PEIS as part of their work to implement Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The proposed energy corridors would facilitate future siting of oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines, as well as electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) facilities on federal lands in the West to meet the region’s increasing energy demands while mitigating potential harmful effects to the environment.

“Up to now, federal land management agencies have often designated energy corridors and rights-of-way when local projects were proposed,” said C. Stephen Allred, assistant secretary of the interior. “Designating energy corridors using a PEIS allows the participating agencies to mitigate environmental effects and reduce conflicts with other uses of federal land. The results of this work will speed the process of siting energy infrastructure on federal lands in the West.”

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the agencies to designate energy transport corridors for oil, gas and hydrogen pipelines and electricity T&D facilities on federal lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Eighty-two percent of the corridors analyzed in the Final PEIS are located on BLM-managed lands, while 16 percent are on USDA Forest Service lands. The remaining proposed corridor segments are on lands managed by Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service, or by the Department of Defense. Individual projects proposed for these corridors would undergo further, project-specific environmental analysis before being granted permits or rights-of-way.

Prepared under provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Final PEIS outlines the potential environmental effects of two alternatives developed, in part, by using comments received during a scoping period in fall 2005, public responses to preliminary maps published in June 2006, and public comments on the draft PEIS during a 90-day comment period earlier in 2008.

To review the Final PEIS and related documents, including detailed maps, visit the project Web site at http://corridoreis.anl.gov.

EYE ON EUROPE

 

A First Look at POWERGRID Europe 2009 in Cologne

.After a very successful November meeting in Berlin, the POWERGRID Europe committee has laid out the upcoming program for the Cologne conference.

Join the conference May 26-28, 2009, at the KoelnMesse for the latest in interesting transmission and distribution (T&D) technologies and grid case studies.

The show begins with a unique session put together with the help of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). It will provide an overview of the evolving ideology of smart grids and lay the groundwork for the continuing debate over communications, hardware and technology that round out POWERGRID Europe’s following sessions. This session will serve as a type of “keynote” for the conference, featuring a panel of special guests from regulatory agencies around Europe.

The remainder of POWERGRID Europe’s conference session will be split into two tracks. The sessions in Track 1 fall under the umbrella “Making it Better–a Look at Grid Integrity and Improvements,” and the sessions in Track 2 relate to the topic “Keeping it from Getting Worse–Maintaining Grid Sustainability.” Each track offers interesting topics, including:

  • Track 1, Session 1. Grid Integration for Renewables and Distributed Generation.
  • Track 1, Session 2. Simulation, Modeling and Planning.
  • Track 1, Session 3. Primary Equipment.
  • Track 2, Session 1. Keeping the Lights On.
  • Track 2, Session 2. Demand-side Management.
  • Track 2, Session 3. Information & Communication Technology.

Come talk with experts and colleagues about these topics next spring in Germany.

For more information on POWERGRID Europe, check out the Web site: www.powergrideurope.com. For more information on the IET, click on: www.theiet.org.

Financial Crisis Could Mean Opportunities for Utilities

A late November report by PowerAdvocate, “Discovering Short Term Buying Opportunities in a Rapidly Changing Marketplace,” notes that commodities issues could be a boon to utilities in the market to buy supplies. The report states:

The global financial crisis and economic slowdown have created a short-term procurement opportunity in the energy supply market. Recent weeks have seen a 20 percent to 40 percent decline in commodity prices. While there are no fire sale signs in the marketplace, the decrease in commodity prices and the indications of weakening demand for capital projects create an opening for discerning buyers. Capitalizing on this short-term dip requires owners to quantify and understand the opportunity. Should-cost modeling, a tool to evaluate potential savings opportunities for buyers, is critical to gain visibility and take advantage of opportunities in the short term market window. Failure to act over the coming months could result in forfeited opportunities. Delaying is not a free option.

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Recent weeks have seen dramatic decreases in commodity prices, increases in raw material inventory and unprecedented price fluctuations:

  • Commodity prices are down 20 percent to 40 percent since early September.
  • Commodity futures signal a continuing price decline over the next 3 months to 15 months, with copper futures off almost 50 percent from recent highs.
  • Historically, equipment prices are slow to follow commodity price decreases (on average by 18 months), though much faster to adjust to rising commodity prices.
  • Commodity speculators are unable to secure credit to make leveraged buys, reducing speculative purchases of nickel, aluminum and copper.
  • New futures contracts on steel are enabling hedging to moderate prices.
  • The downturn in domestic and international demand is hedging to drive commodity prices lower.

PowerAdvocate believes that the near future provides a critical opportunity for active utility procurement groups to exploit a near-term softening in commodity prices. The current economic crisis for the electric power industry is likely to subside over the next 12 months to 18 months as demand for energy infrastructure grows. Commodity prices should rebound at an accelerated pace driven by the exacerbated capacity demands, leaving only a near-term opportunity for savvy utilities to take advantage of existing market conditions.

To capitalize on this short-term opportunity requires buyers to assess procurement strategies immediately.

For more information on this report or PowerAdvocate, check out the company Web site at www.poweradvocate.com.

AEP to Look into Transmission Superhighway

American Electric Power (AEP) is evaluating the feasibility of building a multi-state, extra-high voltage transmission project across the Upper Midwest to support the development of renewable energy.

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AEP proposes building the first 765-kilovolt (kV) extra-high voltage transmission lines to connect major wind developments in the Dakotas and surrounding states to the existing 765-kV network that ends near Chicago. The western terminus of the project would be near a 2,000-MW wind generation project in North Dakota being developed by Hartland Wind Farm LLC. Hartland will collaborate with AEP on development of the project.

“A critical component of our nation’s approach to addressing climate change is the ability to harvest our most viable renewable generation resources. The Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa have some of the very best wind generation resources in the United States, but the wind potential in this region cannot be developed unless we build a very efficient transmission superhighway to bring this clean, renewable generation to population and electricity load centers,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer.

“AEP has taken the initiative to propose a key transmission solution for the Upper Midwest that will support development of this region, including interconnection of renewable generation, and also bring broad reliability and economic benefits,” said Craig Fink, managing member, Hartland Wind Farm LLC. “AEP was the first U.S. utility to harness the value and efficiency of 765-kV extra-high voltage transmission, and it is the only U.S. utility that has built and operated more than a few hundred miles of 765-kV lines. So, it makes sense for AEP to be the one that moves forward with linking our country’s most efficient and reliable transmission lines with our nation’s most viable wind regions. We look forward to supporting them in that effort.”

The transmission proposal is in the conceptual stage, but it is anticipated that linking Upper Midwest wind resources with the existing extra-high voltage transmission infrastructure in the Chicago region will likely require more than 1,000 miles of new extra-high voltage transmission lines at a cost of between $5 billion and $10 billion. Because of the project’s scope and size, it will likely be built in stages over a 10-year period. AEP will collaborate with all appropriate parties within the region, including local utilities. The Midwest Independent System Operator will have final approval of the plan.

TIBIT:

Cooper Industries Ltd. has acquired Cyme International of St. Bruno, Quebec, Canada. Cyme’s products allow utilities to manage power outages, leverage AMI data, integrate and manage distributed generation assets such as renewable sources of electricity, and maximize the productivity of their networks. Cyme will become part of the energy automation solutions group within Cooper Power Systems. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Obama Chooses New DOE Head

By Kathleen Davis, Senior Editor

At press time, President-elect Barack Obama selected Steven Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his administration’s secretary of energy.

Chu shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics for determining how to trap and manipulate an atom. (The recipe: Chill the atom to near absolute zero. This slows it down enough to allow a laser light to grab it and shake it all about.)

The son of Chinese immigrants, Chu was born in 1948. A favorite science teacher in high school put him on the physics path, and he majored in mathematics and physics at the University of Rochester. He moved on to the University of California, Berkeley for graduate school and joined Bell Laboratories in 1978. There, from 1978-1987, he participated in the work that led to his ’97 Nobel Prize.

In 1983, Chu snagged the top spot in the quantum electronics research department at Bell. Additionally in his work history, he chaired the physics department at Stanford University and taught physics and molecular biology back at his alma mater Berkeley.

Chu became director at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2004. According to lab insiders, he’s reinvigorated programs there centering on energy efficient buildings, green house gas monitoring and battery storage.

To have your say on Chu’s appointment, go online to www.utilityautomation.com and vote on the Quick Vote question at the bottom of the page. Give us your view on Obama’s choice.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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