From the Canton Reporter

Independent electricity companies, not utilities, are behind the projects, signaling how deregulation has taken root

A power-plant building boom has hit Ohio, the first since shale natural gas changed just about everything in the state’s energy landscape.

Six plants are under construction or in the planning stages across the state, including one near Circleville. The projects show how shale gas is transforming the electricity market in a state long associated with coal and coal-fired electricity.

“Don’t be surprised if the future of power generation is natural gas, along with wind and solar,” said Don Mason, a Zanesville lawyer who specializes in energy issues and a former member of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. “There is an abundance of natural gas that will provide the price to beat.”

It is no accident that he left coal off his list. Coal-fired power plants are closing because of a combination of old age and the high costs of complying with clean-air rules. Gas plants also emit pollutants, but at much lower levels than coal plants.

Wind and solar power also are adding to Ohio’s capacity, but they are intermittent resources that need to work alongside power plants that can run around the clock.

Notably, the new gas plants are being built by independent electricity companies, not utilities.

This shows how deregulation, which Ohio adopted beginning in 1999, has taken root. It also means that investors “not utility consumers” are assuming the financial risks with these multibillion-dollar investments.

“The market is really calling for this new build,” said William Martin, president of CME Energy of Boston, which is involved with the development of Oregon Clean Energy Center, a natural-gas plant being built in the Toledo area. “It’s as simple as that.”

He is talking about the market for electricity. Wholesale electricity prices are low, but investors are betting that the price will rise as more coal plants shut down and demand increases.

Moving forward

Four gas-fired power plants are under construction, one is in the permitting phase with state regulators, and the sixth “the one slated for near Circleville” is soon to seek permits. In all, that is six plants with a combined capacity of about 5,100 megawatts. One megawatt is roughly enough electricity to provide for the needs of about 1,000 houses.

For some perspective, Ohio’s current coal, natural-gas and nuclear plants, representing construction going back to the 1950s, have the combined capacity of more than 25,000 megawatts, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. That means the new plants would be about one-fifth of existing capacity.

The Circleville-area proposal has moved forward quietly. The developer, NTE Energy of Florida, hasn’t filed an application with state regulators, and most of the discussion has been within Pickaway County, involving local officials and property owners.

If all goes according to NTE’s plans, the 1,000-megawatt plant would begin construction in 2018. The company says it intends to spend $900 million on the project.

From Power Engineering

Deal Done Between Parties on 1,105-MW South Field Energy Project in Ohio

A stipulated agreement that was filed June 28 at the Ohio Power Siting Board should clear the way for board approval of the 1,105-MW, gas-fired project of South Field Energy LLC.

The agreement is among South Field Energy, Yellow Creek Township, the Columbiana County Development Department Director, American Transmission Systems Inc. (ATSI), Ohio Edison and siting board staff. This stipulation is intended by the parties to resolve all matters pertinent to the certification and construction of the proposed South Field Energy Generation Facility. ATSI and Ohio Edison are units of FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE).

South Field is proposing to develop, build and operate South Field Energy Generation Facility, a dual-fuel combined-cycle facility located in Columbiana County, Ohio. This is a state-of-the-art facility designed in a 2×2 configuration. It will primarily fire natural gas, with the capability to fire ultra-low sulphur distillate (ULSD) as back-up. It will utilize two integrated General Electric (GE) 7HA.02 combustion turbine generators, each with a dedicated supplementary-fired heat recovery steam generator; two steam generators and two mechanical draft wet cooling towers. The facility will have a nominal net output of 1,105 MW (full duct burner operation with inlet air cooling at 59 degrees Fahrenheit ambient temperature).

EIA Data Puts Natural Gas in the Driver’s Seat in 2016

Natural gas-fired electricity generation in the United States is expected to reach a record level this year, providing an average of 3.8 million megawatthours per day in 2016, or 4% higher than in 2015. Based on EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), monthly natural gas-fired generation is expected to reach record highs in July and August, when weather-related demand for air conditioning increases electricity demand, according to the EIA.

Natural gas had long been the second-most prevalent fuel for electricity generation behind coal. Natural gas-fired generation first surpassed coal generation on a monthly basis in April 2015. Natural gas-fired generation has surpassed coal-fired generation in most months since then and is expected to continue to exceed coal generation through the remainder of the year, ultimately providing 34% of the United States’s electricity generated this year. Coal’s share of the 2016 U.S. electricity generating mix is expected to be 30%, nuclear, 19%, and renewables, 15%.

eia power plant fuel usage 2016

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