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Big transmission lines advance; First US offshore wind farm goes online


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Insight Weekly: Cybersecurity M&A momentum; US banks' loan growth; miners' labor supply woes

Big transmission lines advance; First US offshore wind farm goes online

345-kV line supporting reliability in Nebraska, Missouri completed

A transmission line that will allow Great Plains Energy Inc. utility Kansas City Power & Light Co. to buy power from two planned Missouri wind facilities was energized Dec. 15. The project, also known as the Sibley-Nebraska City Transmission Project, originally had a targeted completion date of June 1, 2017, but the developers said more than a year ago that it would be finished by the end of 2016. Its estimated cost was $400 million.

MISO selects LS Power-led project in competition for 345-kV line

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. selected a partnership led by private developer LS Power Associates LP to build, own and operate the Duff-Coleman 345-kV line in southern Indiana and western Kentucky, the first transmission project selected through a competitive process in compliance with FERC Order 1000.

Big transmission lines advance, but still face tough slog

In late November, the Illinois Supreme Court handed electric transmission developer Clean Line Energy Partners some welcome good news: It agreed to hear the appeal of a lower court's ruling that had essentially shut down work on Clean Line's Rock Island transmission line. A proposed 500-mile high-voltage, direct-current transmission line, Rock Island is designed to carry 3,500 MW from wind farms in northwest Iowa and the surrounding region to cities in Illinois and other states to the east.

BLM approves major transmission projects in the West

The Bureau of Land Management issued records of decision on two major transmission projects across western states in a signing ceremony in Coronado, Calif., with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, California Gov. Jerry Brown and other notables. The federal agency approved plans for the TransWest Express and Gateway South projects, which together will span more than 1,100 miles of 500-kV and 600-kV transmission lines across Utah and portions of Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada.

Start of operations for 1st US offshore wind farm marks new era

America's first commercial offshore wind farm has begun producing electricity, 3 miles off of the coast of Rhode Island. Project developer Deepwater Wind announced Dec. 12 that its $300 million, 30-MW Block Island Offshore Wind project started supplying electricity to the grid after completing its commissioning and testing.

NextEra Energy commissions 2 wind farms in Kansas

NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary NextEra Energy Resources LLC started operations at its Kingman and Ninnescah wind farms in Kansas. SNL Energy estimated project costs of $390 million for the 200-MW Kingman facility in Kingman County and $388 million for the 208.3-MW Ninnescah facility in Pratt County.

NRG adds nearly 2,800 MW of gas capacity by converting coal plants

NRG Energy Inc. has successfully converted four of its coal-fired facilities to run on natural gas, slashing the power plants' combined carbon footprint by more than 80%. The modified units can collectively produce 2,780 MW, enough to power more than 2 million average homes, according to a Dec. 19 news release.

PG&E to complete 2,409-MW solar rooftop program

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is close to completing the installation of its 2,409-MW solar rooftop program in Northern and Central California. The PG&E Corp. subsidiary will connect more than 275,000 customers to the grid under the Net Energy Metering Successor Program, or NEM 2.

NRC issues licenses for Duke Energy nuclear reactors in South Carolina

Duke Energy Carolinas LLC received long-anticipated federal approval to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Dec. 21 said it issued two combined construction and operating licenses to the Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary for the 2,234-MW William States Lee III Nuclear Station in Cherokee County, S.C.

NB Power will pursue repairs at Mactaquac hydro dam to avoid premature shutdown

The owner of a troubled hydroelectric dam in New Brunswick has recommended the facility be repaired rather than torn down or replaced, with an estimated cost between C$2.9 billion and C$3.6 billion. NB Power's board of directors announced Dec. 20 it will seek permission from the provincial government to ensure the originally anticipated lifespan of the 668-MW Mactaquac hydro plant, which supplies 12% of the province's electricity customers.

Eversource, Danish utility partner to build Mass. offshore wind project

One of the world's largest offshore wind developers, DONG Energy, is partnering with New England utility Eversource Energy to develop DONG's proposed Bay State Offshore Wind project off of Massachusetts that Eversource has a 50% stake in. The project's size is yet to be determined, but it has previously been reported as 1,000 MW.

Vogtle unit 3 reaches another milestone with 2nd containment vessel ring placed

Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power Co. said the second containment vessel ring has been successfully placed inside the 1,100-MW Vogtle Nuclear Plant unit 3 expansion project in Burke County, Ga. Weighing 2.4 million pounds, the containment vessel ring was developed on site and contains dozens of individual steel plates.