Earlier this month, Transource Energy, a partnership between American Electric Power and Great Plains Energy announced plans to develop the Independence Energy Connection (IEC), a new overhead transmission project spanning counties in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Transource project was selected by the PJM Interconnection as part of a competitive bidding effort to address market efficiency issues in the region.
The project will connect two existing 500-kV transmission lines in Pennsylvania and involves 40 miles of new 230-kV lines, two new substations and other upgrades to the grid. The new 230-kV lines will be built in two phases. The East segment is approximately 15 miles in length and will connect a new substation in Southern York County, PA to the existing Conastone substation in Harford county, MD. The West segment involves 25 miles of new overhead transmission connecting a new substation in Franklin County, PA to the existing Ringgold substation in Washington County, MD.
Transource will be hosting several open house discussions across the region during the early part of June. If all goes to plan, the project is expected online in mid-2020.
In early April, the PJM Interconnection Board approved the lifting of an earlier suspension of the Artificial Island Transmission Project – an estimated $280M project involving a 230-kV line from an area where the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants operate to a new substation in northern Delaware. As PJM President and CEO Andrew Ott stated in their April 6, 2017 news release, “the board reached its decision after thoughtful review of additional analysis and stakeholders’ input. We are satisfied that the original solution with modifications – is the right solution to address operational performance and reliability issues related to Artificial island generating facilities.” The main modification is changing the project connection to the Hope Creek substation from the original plan to connect at the Salem substation. The LS Power ($146M) and Public Service Electric & Gas ($132M) project is expected to be online in June 2020.
In mid-May, FirstEnergy’s Ohio Edison Subsidiary announced the completion of a new substation near West Jefferson, Ohio. The project will help meet future demand and enhance reliability in the Madison and Franklin county areas west of Columbus. According to Randall A. Frame, regional president of Ohio Edison, “This project is the sixth modular substation we have completed in the Ohio Edison area over the past several years. In addition to reducing the construction schedule, the standardized design also helps reduce maintenance costs.”
The substation project is part of FirstEnergy’s $371M planned investment in distribution and transmission in the Ohio Edison service territory this year. According to the news release, $227M is earmarked for transmission related projects owned by American Transmission Systems, FirstEnergy’s transmission company.
Energy Storage Makes Gains
Three innovative energy storage projects made the news late last month including Enel Green Power Chile Ltda’s emission free commercial-sized micro-grid solar PV facility. The innovative project incorporates both hydrogen-based and lithium-based storage. Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Enel’s Global Renewable Energies Division Enel Green Power stated, “This groundbreaking project shows that it is possible to build fully renewables-powered micro-grids capable of delivering efficient, zero-emission energy without interruptions.” The micro-grid project incorporates a 125kWp solar PV installation backed by a 450kWh hydrogen storage system and a 132-kWh lithium ion storage system. The micro-grid is capable of running 24/7 with no need for diesel fueled power support. Enel’s Green Power operation in Chile currently operates 1.1 GW of renewable power plants including 564 MW of wind energy, 492 MW of solar PV and 92 MW from hydropower. The micro-grid energy storage project supports over 600 technicians working at the company’s under construction geothermal plant Cerro Pabellon in the Antofagasta region.
On May 31, Southern Company’s Gulf Power announced that construction had started on the McCrary Battery Energy Storage Demonstration project at their Training Center in Pensacola FL. The project incorporates a 250 kW/1 MWh Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion system. Gulf Power spokesman, Kimberly Blair, stated, “Any source of energy can be used to charge a battery system. A customer can reduce their energy demand by charging during off-peak energy usage times and use the battery during the peak energy usage times.” The energy storage project is being done in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute’s Integrated Grid Initiative.
Tucson Electric Power made news in late May by announcing they had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nextera Energy to build a 100 MW solar PV system with a 30 MW (120 MWh) energy storage system. According to Tucson’s Senior Director for Energy Supply, Carmine Tilghman, “The project is priced less than $0.045/kWh over 20 years, and at under $0.030/kWh, the solar portion is probably the lowest price recorded in the U.S. Contributing to the attractive PPA price, both the solar and storage portions of the project qualify for the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) which was extended for three years back in December 2015.
International Transmission Projects
On May 25, the Saudi Electricity Company finalized the implementation of its plan to construct six power plants and build five interconnecting 380-kV transmission lines between cities in the Northern region of Saudi Arabia. Construction of the five overhead lines involves 1,376 miles of conductor at an estimated cost of $1.46bn. The project is a key component of Saudi Vision 2030’s diversification targets.
In Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak Cable Bhd’s subsidiary, Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd received a Letter of Acceptance from Tenaga Nasional Bhd for the installation of a 500-kV overhead transmission line from Alor Gajah to Bahau South. The project cost is estimated at $19M.
The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) approved a $56M financing package for a 500-kV transmission line between the cities of Melo and Tacuarembo in Uruguay. The project is expected to enable the integration of more renewable energy in the region. Italy’s Terna SpA has the contract to design and construct the project for UTE, Uruguay’s state-run electric utility which will operate and maintain the line under an operating lease agreement. The 132-mile project when complete will account for 5% of the total Uruguayan transmission grid.