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TVA Buys Chunk of Capacity on Columbia

TVA Buys Chunk of Capacity on Columbia

A transportation agreement signed by Columbia Gulf and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) marks the beginning of a relationship that is likely to grow over time as TVA converts a significant amount of its generation capacity to burn natural gas.

The agreement covers firm transportation on Columbia for 240,000 MMBtu/d of gas that will fuel 1,500 MW of power generation at TVA's Gallatin Power Plant in Sumner County, TN. But the plant represents a small piece of a larger conversion process which will turn another 20 generation units to gas usage over the next year.

The Gallatin conversion project will involve converting four fuel oil units to burn natural gas. Columbia plans to build a 2.3-mile 12-inch diameter pipeline from mainline facilitates in Wilson County, TN, to Gallatin.

It is Columbia's second agreement with a power generator. In 1996, the pipeline built facilities to deliver gas to two Central Louisiana Electric Co. power plants. "Through connections with these plants, we are moving toward Columbia Gulf becoming the preferred platform for the eventual cross-commodity trading of natural gas and electricity," said James W. Hart, Columbia Gulf's vice president of commercial services.

Columbia Gulf President Terrance L. McGill said this TVA deal is just a beginning. In all, TVA expects to have 2,296 MW of gas-fired power operating by late 1999.

TVA also currently is seeking proposals from third parties to provide up to 1,200 MW of additional peaking power by 2002 - 600 MW by June 1, 2001 and 600 MW the following year. The power must be supplied by simple-cycle gas-fired power plants located in the TVA service area. TVA is not interested in owning the plants but would pay a negotiated fee for an exclusive right to buy the power, a TVA spokeswoman said. TVA plans to compare any proposals with a possible TVA-built project.

The government agency has recommended converting its partially constructed Bellefonte nuclear plant to burn natural gas, but according to a spokesman, the Department of Energy has plans to complete the construction of the plant as a nuclear generator for production of tritium gas, which is used in nuclear arms development. As a result, the agency will continue to seek out proposals for additional gas-fired power.

Rocco Canonica

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