Gas recip hits peak

20 August 2001

In August, Wartsila announced the largest order yet for PeakingPlus, its new line of modular pre-engineered and pre-packaged power plants that allows users to participate in the peaking market, generating their own power when electricity demand is at its highest. Bethesda-based PG&E National Energy Group has placed a contract for a 110 MWe PeakingPlus installation, to be located near the city of Arvada west of Denver, Colorado. This station, called Plains End, with twenty Wartsila 18V34 SG engines, rated at 5.7 MWe each, is claimed to be the largest power plant in the United States to use natural-gas-powered reciprocating engines. It is expected to operate for about 6000 hours per year. Since October, Wartsila has received eight orders for PeakingPlus plants, representing 325 MWe – more than doubling the installed capacity the company has sold in the United States. Wartsila sees a potential for orders representing another 600 MWe in the US by 2003.
Other PeakingPlus customers include: City Light Water and Cable (CLWC), of Paragould, AK; City Light Gas and Water, of Kennett, MO; City of Iola, KS; and City of Red Bluff, CA. PeakingPlus now accounts for almost 50 per cent of Wartsila’s power plant sales in the USA. The first two, the CLWC Paragould and the Kennett projects, were expected to be on-line just in time for this year’s peak summer season. CLWC anticipates its Paragould PeakingPlus plant (pictured above), with 18.4 MWe contracted electrical output, will help the utility maintain its high level of service and low rates for electrical services. The Kennett Board of Public Works purchased PeakingPlus to mitigate its risks from high summer electric rates, and to position itself to sell into the volatile power market.
One attraction of PeakingPlus is that it can be operational 10 months after contract signing.
Developed to address the unique peak energy requirements of the United States, PeakingPlus is the first reciprocating engine plant offered in the gas-fired, intermediate peaking market. Compared with gas turbines, Wartsila’s reciprocating engines offer a scalable, modular design that more closely matches customers’ energy needs, and provide more than a 20 per cent increase in electrical efficiency. PeakingPlus is targeted to municipalities, industrial users, and integrated power companies.
“The phenomenal demand for PeakingPlus in the United States is driven by what’s happening in the deregulated electricity market - a shortage of power, unreliable supply, and price volatility,” commented Thomas M. Carbone, president of Wartsila North America. “Given trends in the deregulated market, and the fact that the peak summer usage period is just underway, Wartsila foresees higher demand for distributed power solutions such as PeakingPlus. This is the beginning of a paradigm shift in the energy market. Many industrial and municipal users are seeking greater control over their power consumption.” Distributed energy solutions, such as Wartsila’s PeakingPlus, allow users to cap their costs by generating their own power during peak usage periods and buying power from utilities when usage and prices are low. This approach also enables users to sell excess power, if they choose, into the volatile energy market, while reducing demand on local utilities. With electricity demand anticipated to grow by 15 to 20 GW a year in the United States, and large utility plants slow to come on-line, more users are expected to turn to distributed solutions.

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