U.S. Geothermal Gives Mid-Year Update
Major geothermal energy company U.S. Geothermal, Inc., released details about is operations in its mid-year update Monday.
The company has three major projects underway in Neal Hot Springs, Oregon, San Emidio, Nevada, and Raft River, Idaho. It provided a breakdown of each project and its current status.
At Neal Hot Springs, the company said the three units produced 96,681 MWh in the first half of 2014, a marked 27 percent increase from 2013’s 76,151 MWh. Under the company’s Power Purchase Agreement for the site, prices were seasonally adjusted in March, April, and May, during which time planned outages for maintenance were conducted.
San Emidio saw generation fall slightly, from 37,267 in the first half of 2013 to 36,910 this year, because of an extended outage in April. The first quarter, specifically, was better than the previous year, generating 10 percent more power, though was ultimately offset by the outage in quarter two. The outage was necessary to make upgrades to the plant, the likes of which have been performed on the Neal Hot Springs site as well.
In Raft River, Idaho, the company called the plant generation “exceptional,” recording a 7 percent increase over the first half of 2013, despite 108 hours of scheduled maintenance. The maintenance was conducted during seasonally adjusted price times under a PPA, much like Neal Hot Springs.
The company is also working on several developments in Guatemala, California, and Nevada that they hope will help boost generation. Help is also coming from various governments, with tax credits for new geothermal plants set to be extended for the next two years. Also, California and Nevada have regulations in the process of being passed stating that certain amounts of renewable energy must come from geothermal sources.
CEO Dennis Gilles was both excited about his company’s performance this year so far and optimistic it’ll finish 2014 strong.
"Our operations team has done an outstanding job during this first half of the year focusing on maximizing production from all of our facilities. Our units are all performing with exceptionally high availabilities, and with output that is at or above what we had expected. The total generation from all of our units for the first half of 2014 was 173,272 megawatt-hours, compared to 150,341 megawatt-hours for the first half of 2013, reflecting a 15% increase over the prior year period,” Gilles said. "As a result of this strong performance, we anticipate that our projected year-end results should be in the higher end of the range of guidance that we previously provided."
U.S. Geothermal expects to release its full second quarter financial reports and a report looking ahead to the rest of this year and into next year on August 14.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.