Category Archives: Utilities

Natural gas-fueled power plant in Lawrence County gets site approval

A $750 million plant in Lawrence County, powered by Marcellus shale gas, could begin generating electicity by 2016, officials said.

LS Power Development LLC received North Beaver supervisors’ approval this week to build a 900-megawatt plant along the Mahoning River at the site of a former American Cyanamid Co. explosives manufacturing plant. Construction could begin early next year.

The New Jersey-based company needs state and federal permits, and the state Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing several requests, project manager Casey Carroll said on Wednesday.

“We’re trying to respond to the large number of proposed retirements — some 3,000 megawatts” of power generation capacity in northwest Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio, he said, addressing how the company chose the location. One megawatt can power about 800 homes.

The proposed Hickory Run Energy Station also needs access to high-voltage lines, interstate natural gas pipelines and a water supply source.

LS Power’s project is moving forward as electric generation companies are closing less efficient coal-fired plants or converting them to run on cheaper natural gas before tougher federal air pollution standards take effect in 2015.

FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, American Electric Power of Columbus and GenOn Energy Inc., which NRG Energy of Princeton, N.J., acquired for $1.7 billion in December, along with other operators announced closings of dozens of plants last year.

Natural gas plants account for 95 percent of generation planned in grid operator PJM Interconnection LLC’s territory covering 13 states and the District of Columbia, spokeswoman Paula DuPont-Kidd said. Wind used to be the fastest-growing sector, she said.

Pending deactivations of coal-fired plants add up to more than 16,000 megawatts of generating capacity, PJM documents show.

Carroll said LS Power, with offices in East Brunswick, N.J., and St. Louis, has a contract to buy the Hickory Run site off Route 551, about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. owns and operates the gas lines that would supply the plant, and has a system that runs from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Carroll said 500 workers would be needed to build the plant, with an estimated payroll of $100 million. The completed power station will employ 25.

LS Power owns or is developing power plants that run on natural gas, coal or renewables such as wind and solar, and is building high-voltage transmission lines, its website said. In Pennsylvania, the company has a natural gas-fired plant under development in Berks County.

SOURCE: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/3435126-74/power-gas-plant#axzz2KFdbNDtK

New England needs to expand gas pipelines

New England’s strong and increasing reliance on natural gas is well documented, with almost half of electricity currently generated by natural gas, up from just 15 percent in 2000, according to ISO New England.

That trend line will only increase in coming months and years with more and more homes and businesses converting to natural gas from heating oil. NStar has estimated that conversions here have tripled over the past three years and National Grid said conversions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire increased 34 percent.

All these are positive trends, particularly considering the abundance of cheap, available natural gas – and the possibility of far more due to the shale gas revolution happening throughout the nation.

However, the region will need to do more to increase our capacity to bring this abundant energy source to our businesses, institutions, and homes. That presents a problem which New England ought to see as an opportunity and move quickly to expand the available pipeline for natural gas into the region.

There is a clear need for additional gas pipeline capacity in New England, not only for electric generation on the relatively infrequent peak-gas-demand days and to fill the gaps from the growing use of intermittent renewable resources but, in general, for the rapidly growing end-use demand for gas.

We need new capacity to take advantage of the nation’s rising supplies of natural gas. Currently, the delivery cost of gas in New England is increasing rapidly and will likely keep rising, unabated, until pipeline capacity increases and more gas starts flowing into the area.

In New York, the key financing for an expansion was secured when marketers and transmission companies signed on to firm contracts after a period of significant increase in primary delivery costs. As a result, marketers are now concentrating in that key, new open market. After this new capacity, New York’s primary delivery cost is now approximately $2/therm lower than what Massachusetts end users are paying, as highlighted in a recent report by the US Energy Information Administration. That report also states that New England has the highest average spot prices for natural gas in the nation.

For New England, it doesn’t make sense to wait until the cost of gas increases to the point where it hurts commercial, industrial, and residential customers. For PowerOptions members, who use roughly 13 million dekatherms annually, matching New York’s primary delivery cost would translate into $26 million of savings.

While it is a bad idea to saddle the electricity market with the full cost, smart expansions of pipeline capacity make sense and regulators and the marketplace should consider a range of expansion solutions and include all potential sources of financing support.

The truth is, we can’t continue to provide the incentives we do to end users for the conversion from oil heating and steam to natural gas and then not expand our ability to bring more gas into the region. That math doesn’t add up.

Bottom-line, this is a very complex problem. There are no simple answers and a wide net of potential solutions must be cast. But simple answers like greater efficiency and leak prevention in our pipeline are simply not enough. Smart but bold action is needed – and soon.

SOURCE: http://www.commonwealthmagazine.org/Voices/Perspective/Online-Perspectives-2013/Winter/002-Arcate-New-England-needs-to-expand-gas-pipelines.aspx

24-Inch Water Pipe Burst Closes Dallas Street

A water main break in Dallas released enough water to stop traffic and close one street for at least a day.

The 24-inch water pipeline burst on Beckley Avenue, under the Commerce Street Bridge.

“The possibilities of the failure could be corrosion, electrolysis that occurs there, it could be ground shift,” explained Randy Payton, with Dallas Water Utilities.

According to Payton, each year Dallas spends about $100 million on pipe replacement.

“Dallas has an aggressive approach in replacing its pipelines annually,” he said.

It’s expected to take a full day, up to 20 hours, to repair or replace the pipe.

There are some 5,000 miles of pipeline running through the city of Dallas.

Payton said it’s unusual for larger pipes to break and that the 24-inch pipe on Beckley is, “…a reliable pipe. Generally, like I said, it only fails once or twice a year — throughout the system.”

The large size of the burst pipe will require more manpower to repair/replace it.

SOURCE: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/06/06/24-inch-water-pipe-burst-closes-dallas-street/

Leaks and corrosion: Water main pipes being replaced in metro-east

 

BELLEVILLE — Illinois American Water Co. is investing $1.2 million to replace water main piping in parts of Belleville, East St. Louis, Granite City and Venice.

The original piping is rife with leaks, corrosion and longterm sediment accretion, according Grant Evitts, senior operations manager for the Interurban District.

“The water mains we are replacing with this project were installed over 50 years ago,” Evitts said. “Upgrading the infrastructure is essential to ensuring quality water service.”

According to utility company spokeswoman Karen Cotton, the funding for this project will be provided by revenue from customer water rates. These rates, which aren’t subsidized with taxes or fees, are based on the true cost of providing water service, including water treatment, distribution, customer service, meter reading and infrastructure investments that need to be made to ensure water quality and upgrading of the water main systems.

Work to install more than two miles of water mains begins this week on Coral Drive in Belleville. There will be 1,509 feet of 2-inch galvanized piping replaced with 8-inch ductile iron on Coral Drive from Carlyle Avenue to Gardenia and from Shady Lane to Holly Drive. Later this year, 750 feet of water main will be replaced on South Pennsylvania Avenue in Belleville.

Other installation projects throughout the year will include:

* 3,445 feet of 8-inch ductile iron main on Church Lane in East St. Louis from 78th Street to Illinois 157.

* 3,552 feet of 8-inch ductile iron main on Edison Avenue in Granite City form 22nd Street to 26th Street.

* 920 feet of 8-inch ductile iron main on Lincoln Avenue in Venice from Cleveland Avenue to Klein Avenue.

On Oct. 27, Illinois American filed a request with the Illinois Commerce Commission for a rate increase of $7.06 a month to be added to the existing $43.65 per month average residential bill. The review process is pending.

“We maintain ongoing infrastructure investments to ensure that we do not find ourselves in a crisis situation,” Cotton said. “…This will help meet the demands of today’s customers and planning for the future.”

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission plans to expand oversight rules on natural gas pipelines

State regulators are moving toward stricter oversight of natural gas pipelines, though officials say that effort began before the Allentown explosion that killed five people one year yesterday.

“We’ve been really taking a close look, partly because of some of the tragic incidents, but also because of the expansion of Marcellus Shale in the state,” said Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for thePennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

The PUC is currently accepting public comment on a proposal that would require natural gas utilities to annually submit pipeline replacement and performance plans.

If the new rules — proposed on Nov. 10 — take effect, utilities with intrastate operating revenues of more than $40 million would have to file plans this spring or summer with final approval scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013.

The plans basically require utilities to submit replacement time frames for aging pipes as well as updates on damage prevention and corrosion control efforts.

The PUC said it is also enhancing “frost patrol” reviews — winter surveys that gas utilities conduct to assess how safely pipes can endure freezing temperatures — to demand more frequent and detailed updates.

The state said it regularly reviews safety protocols, though it acknowledged the Feb. 9, 2011, explosion added urgency.

The explosion, which leveled an entire block of homes on North 13th Street, is believed to have resulted from a break in a UGI Utilities natural gas main.

The PUC said a surge in natural gas drilling relating to Marcellus Shale as well as a need to bring state standards in better compliance with evolving federal regulations influenced the changes.

Reading-based UGI said it supports the state revisions. The company said it began upgrading procedures before the blast, though it admitted making further improvements, such as conducting more comprehensive leak surveys, after the explosion.

That coincides with the company’s accelerated timeframe for replacing cast-iron pipe with high-density plastic or coated steel, UGI spokesman Joseph Swope said. 

“We have been aggressive,” Swope said. “We have accelerated those plans.”

Other nearby utilities said the explosion prompted a review of safety protocols, though none said they changed policy directly because of the Allentown blast.

PECO Gas spokesman Ben Armstrong said the company, which serves Bucks, Montgomery, and other counties, spends about $80 million a year to maintain its natural gas system.

Armstrong said PECO conducts walking surveys on all transmission pipelines every two months, leak inspections every six months, and annual inspection of valves, among other reviews.

“None of the procedures were revised directly because to the incidents in Allentown or Philadelphia,” Armstrong said, referring to another explosion last year that killed a Philadelphia Gas Works employee. “We have a vigorous maintenance and inspection system in place.”

Elizabethtown Gas, a subsidiary of AGL Resources serving Warren and Hunterdon counties, said system upgrades are ongoing irrespective of the blast.

Spokesman Duane Bourne said Elizabethtown is completing a $108 million improvement plan approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that would replace 70 miles of aging cast-iron pipe across its New Jersey service area. Work began in 2009.

SOURCE: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2012/02/pennsylvania_public_utility_co.html

South Bismarck sewer repairs continuing

Crews were seen repairing a corroded sewage pipe and keep raw sewage from seeping into homes in south Bismarck.

The city’s utility operations director, Keith Demke, said the workers were not successful in stopping the leak Wednesday night, and he said more work is required.

“We are asking residents in the affected area to continue to reduce the flows to the sewer system until further notice,” Demke said.

South Bismarck residents have been asked to limit showers, baths, laundry and other water use since Tuesday evening. To further ease pressure on the sewer system, some of the sewage is being moved through the South Washington lift station. Those affected are residents and businesses south of Bismarck Expressway from Washington Street to Airport Road.

The threat of sewage seeping into basements forced city crews to divert the mess from the normal sewer main into a storm water drainage ditch that flows directly into the Missouri River. The drainage ditch is south of Wachter Avenue and north of a bridge near a walking path.

“If we don’t do this, it’s going to back up into people’s homes and basements,” Demke said.

For the short-term repairs, Demke doesn’t believe the sewage diversion poses a health risk to people “unless they are in direct contact with it.” He said much of the drainage ditch’s mile-plus path is not accessible west of Tatley Meadows.

The leak was caused by a corrosion hole in the iron pipe carrying the waste material. Demke said the 24-inch pipe is the second largest sewer drainage system serving the city, about one-third of the city’s solid waste intake.

“It’s going a little slower than we thought,” Demke said Wednesday night. “They’re patching a new pipe together, bolting it, refilling it and then they’ve got to get the air out of the pipe.”

SOURCE: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/south-bismarck-sewer-repairs-underway/article_cd351da0-3716-11e1-9f47-0019bb2963f4.html

Investigation findings: Corrosion at Michigan nuclear plant due to stainless steel components

A recent investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that the failure of a water pump due to the corrosion of certain kinds of stainless steel components caused an August shutdown of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert.

In a news release from his office,Congressman Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, questioned why a substandard steel is still being used for certain plant components.

Here’s what it says:

Despite scientific findings and industry experience reporting its vulnerability to cracks and corrosion, the types of stainless steel –known as 410SS and 416SS – continues to be used in water pumps used to provide cooling water to critical safety-related equipment such as component cooling water, diesel generators, and containment vessel air coolers for nuclear power plants throughout the U.S.

Markey sent a letter querying the NRC about the vulnerability of these metals to corrosion cracking and their continued use despite two decades of failures in nuclear power plants, according to the news release.

Here’s more from the release:

Despite NRC alerting licensees about issues with these pumps, failures continue and licensees have not been required to take any action or even report back to the NRC regarding what they are doing to identify, mitigate or prevent corrosion cracking that could cause component failures.

“They say there was never a good knife made of bad steel. Similarly, you can’t have a safe nuclear reactor made of bad steel,” Markey said. “I am concerned that U.S. nuclear power plants using components made from 410 and 416 steel may be subject to failures of critical safety equipment and at risk of shutdown. NRC must ensure that it requires licensees to take steps to identify and mitigate any corrosion of its components in order to demonstrate that they will perform satisfactorily in service, especially for critical safety-related operations.”

In the letter, Markey asks the NRC to respond to questions that include:

• Which U.S. nuclear power plants currently use 410SS and 416SS components and what are the known uses of 410SS and 416SS?

• Will the NRC undertake a review of 410SS and 416SS steels to determine if additional periodic inspections and mitigation efforts are warranted?

• What regulatory actions will be undertaken in order to assess, require licensee reporting and inspection of, and address problems involved in 410SS and 416SS components?

In March, Congressman Fred Upton pledged support of the nation’s nuclear plants, three of which — Palisades Power Plant in Van Buren County and two at the Cook Nuclear Plant in Berrien County— are in his district, which covers southwestern Michigan.

Upton is chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

SOURCE: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/12/bum_steel_creates_dangers_at_p.html

$20m (AUD) to fix Canberra’s Scrivener Dam

Up to $20 million will be spent repairing Canberra’s Scrivener Dam after a safety audit uncovered corrosion problems.

The annual safety audit of the dam three weeks ago found corroded bolts in the flap gates of the dam wall which are opened during flooding to regulate the level of Lake Burley Griffin.

It recommended 120 anchor bolts be replaced within one to two years.

“The engineering work involves replacing every bolt, on every hinge, on every gate,” said National Capital Authority (NCA) chief executive Gary Rake.

“Each of the five flap gates will, in turn, be removed and replaced by a temporary floating gate while the bolts are changed.”

Most of the bolts are encased in steel structure or concrete and are difficult to access.

The work will also include redesigning the anchor bolt system to reduce corrosion and improve accessibility.

It is expected to cost between $15 million and $20 million (AUD), and will take up to 18 months to complete.

Mr Rake says the lake level is also being lowered to the same level reached in February 2003 during drought conditions.

“Lake Burley Griffin was lowered 200 millimetres last Friday evening in anticipation of increased water inflows,” he said.

“We will lower the lake by another 300mm. Lowering the lake to this level will assist us in managing risks associated with both the day-to-day operation of the dam and the completion of these engineering works.

“We expect that the lake will remain at this lower level throughout the work.

“There may be occasions when the lake needs to be lowered even further. Lake users will be given advance notice of expected changes in the lake level whenever possible.”

Mr Rake says the dam remains safe and fully functional.

“Undertaking these works will not interfere with the regular operation of the dam. We have been advised by independent engineers that Scrivener Dam remains safe and fully functional,” he said.

“All risks associated with these works and the day-to-day operation of the dam are being appropriately managed.”

SOURCE: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-01/scrivener-dam-repair-bill/3706644 

Water line break & corrosion a headache for Tucson Water

Aging water lines are a problem for Tucson Water. They often break causing big headaches.

But what happens when lines that are relatively new break. Solving that problem goes from headache to migraine.

A 24 inch line broke in front of Miller Elementary School at Camino de la Tierra and Avenida de Isabel. Because it was not a service line, homeowners and the school were not affected. Everyone still has water flowing into their homes.

But the biggest problem is trying to determine what a line that was installed in 1981 sprung a leak. A cast iron pipe like that should last 50 to 80 years at least. Turns out soil corrosion might have caused the line to fail. It could also be an electrochemical phenomenon.

What is known, there are some very large holes on the bottom of an eight foot section taken out of the ground.

An inspection of other pipes leading into homes in the area also showed the same type of corrosion.

The city will use camera’s to try to determine just how much of the pipe needs to be replaced. It will send a camera several hundred feet in both directions to see if corrosion may have weakened other parts as well.

So what started out to be a routine repair job may be long and complicated. The Water Department has identified $131 million in water line repairs that need to be done.

In the meantime, the water department had an early warning system in place which sends out alerts when a line is deteriorating.

The system worked a few weeks ago when workers were alerted to a weakening 42 inch line on Columbus Avenue and Grant.

It would have been a catastrophic event had it burst.

Workers are now repairing damage to the line.

SOURCE: http://www.kold.com/story/16148949/water-line-break-a-headache-for-workers

Pennsylvania Public Utility posts new rules for replacing aging pipelines

Noting the Feb. 9 natural gas explosion that killed five Allentown residents, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission last week proposed requiring gas utilities to file plans outlining how much aging underground pipelines leak and when the utilities intend to replace them.

The PUC unanimously agreed without discussion to seek comments on the proposal, which was developed in light of “recent tragic incidents” as well as the growth of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells and changing federal gas safety regulations, a PUC statement said. Comments can be filed with the PUC up to Dec. 2.

“These plans will tentatively be required to include infrastructure replacement time frames and a proposal for the means by which the cost of the infrastructure replacement program should be addressed in rates,” PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson and Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr. said in joint statement.

Under the proposal, utilities would have to file pipeline replacement and performance plans. The plans should include a time frame for replacing aging pipelines and performance standards that include damage prevention, corrosion control and distribution system leaks, it said. Utilities would have to file plans next spring or summer, with final approval by the PUC late next year or early 2013.

Replacing old lines became a higher priority for Allentown on Feb. 9, after a pipeline owned by UGI Utilities installed in 1928 leaked, leading to the fatal blast at 13th and Allen streets. After the explosion, UGI released a plan showing it intended to replace six miles of old cast-iron pipeline in Allentown, more than doubling what it did in 2010. As of earlier this year, Allentown had 79 miles of cast-iron natural gas pipe beneath its streets and about 230 total in the Lehigh Valley.

UGI officials Thursday had not had an opportunity to consider the PUC’s action, said Daniel Adamo, business development director. “UGI will completely review the tentative order and will plan to comment by the deadline,” he said. “We believe it is our responsibility to safely deliver natural gas to our customers,” he added.

The commission action also requires gas utilities to provide distribution integrity management program plans, which are required by the federal government, with the PUC by Nov. 30. In 2009, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued new regulations that required gas distribution companies, such as UGI, to adopt written plans for continuous review of data to identify threats to pipeline systems, evaluating risks, and implementing measures to reduce risks.

As part of its proposed regulations, the PUC also plans to mandate “frost surveys,” which are leak surveys that utilities perform during cold weather months. The regulation would require frost surveys from Nov. 1 to April 30 each year. Previously, the PUC asked, but hadn’t mandated, frost surveys.

The leak surveys are to be conducted weekly or monthly, depending on the location and size of the line, the PUC said. The utilities would be required to report all leaks every other week and provide a schedule for repairing them, it said.

SOURCE: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pennsylvania-puc-gas-pipeline-safety-20111110,0,1755685.story