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Wind Power Sees Growth Spurt in 2015, FERC Says

Natural gas remained high atop the list of energy sources in terms of total installed operating generating capacity, but wind power outpaced gas in newly installed power generation capacity so far this year, according to data from FERC.

In the latest Energy Infrastructure Update (EIU) compiled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects, natural gas leads in terms of total installed operating generating capacity, with 497.91 GW, or 42.76% of the total 1.16 terawatts. Coal was a distant second at 26.61% (309.9 GW), followed by nuclear power at an even more remote third (9.19%, 107.02 GW).

The EIU showed that a total of 250 power generation units with a combined installed capacity of 7,276 MW have been placed into service as either newbuilds or expansions through September 2015. Of those, 34 units were gas-fueled units totaling 2,884 MW, or 39.6% of the total. But the 26 wind units installed so far this year have a combined 2,966 MW of installed capacity (40.8% of total), making wind tops by that benchmark. Solar was a distant third with 1,137 MW (15.6% of total) from 142 units.

At the same time last year, natural gas accounted for a little more than half of newly installed capacity -- 5,808 MW from 51 units, or 54.8% of the total 10,597 MW from 463 units. Wind was in second place in terms of newly installed capacity (2,030 MW from 37 units) and solar was third (1,928 MW from 258 units).

Although FERC reported that no new natural gas pipelines were placed into service in September, it did grant Bobcat Gas Storage, a unit of Spectra Energy Corp., authorization to place its Cavern No. 5, located in St. Landry Parish, LA, into service. The facility will provide a working gas capacity of 8 Bcf.

FERC also reported that it gave:

  • Leaf River Energy Center LLC authorization to place its No. 6 compressor station, part of its Leaf River Storage Project in Smith County, MS, into service;
  • Trans-Union Interstate Pipeline LP authorization to construct and operate facilities which will increase the capacity of its existing system in Arkansas and Louisiana by 30 MMcf/d in order to serve El Dorado Chemical Co. in Union County, AR; and
  • Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC authorization to construct and operate its Cameron Access Project, which will provide up to 800,000 Dth/d of additional firm transportation service from east to west on its West Lateral Transmission System (see Daily GPISept. 17).

According to FERC, 15 pipeline projects totaling 194.5 miles were placed into service between January and September 2015, which combined account for 5.23 Bcf/d of capacity and 127,925 hp of compression. By comparison, over the same time period in 2014, 12 pipelines totaling 92.4 miles were placed into service, with 989.4 MMcf/d of capacity and 30,950 hp of compression.

FERC said five gas storage projects have been placed into service this year, with 11.4 Bcf of storage capacity and 53 MMcf/d of deliverability with 4,800 hp of compression. By comparison, six storage projects were placed into service for the same period of 2014, with 22.25 Bcf of storage capacity, 110 MMcf/d of deliverability and 4,800 hp of compression.

For its reporting on new in-service generation and total installed operating generating capacity, FERC used data provided by Velocity Suite, ABB Inc. and The C Three Group LLC. The Commission used data compiled internally for its report on natural gas activities.

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