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New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

LCG, December 4, 2019--The last operating coal-fired power plant in New York is moving toward closure shortly. Last month, Somerset Operating Company, a subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, submitted a request to the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state's required, 180-day notice to close the Somerset Station, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020. Closure is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which will evaluate if it will cause an adverse effect on grid reliability.

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Construction Commences on Enel’s Aurora Wind Farm in North Dakota

Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (“EGPNA”), the US renewable energy company of the Enel Group, has started construction of the 299-MW Aurora Wind Farm in North Dakota.

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Industry News

Reworking California Power Contracts Seen as Risky

LCG, Oct. 4, 2001--The California Department of Water Resources says the state risks returning to an "out of control electricity market" if it is forced to renegotiate $43 billion of long-term power contracts, Reuters news agency reported yesterday.

The water agency, pressed into buying power when the state's two biggest utilities ran out of cash last winter, negotiated the contracts "to be an insurance policy to hedge California against the volatile spot market and keep the lights on," DWR spokesman Oscar Hidalgo told Reuters.

"We could be looking at an out of control electricity market if we have to renegotiate. We entered into these contracts in good faith and we strongly believe they have gotten us out of a very tumultuous market," Hidalgo said.

The sellers of electricity also believe they entered into the negotiations in good faith. According to Reuters, independent energy companies selling the electricity to the state said they no have intention of reworking the contracts despite California Public Utilities Commission and consumer groups' complaints that they are priced too high.

The CPUC is challenging several of the state's long-term contracts with electricity generators because the prices and terms may not be good for consumers, commission President Loretta Lynch said Monday.

Many of the contracts range from seven to 10 years at prices of 7 cents to 12 cents a kilowatt-hour, she said. In January, when the state began negotiating the contracts, the market price was often more than 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. But lately, the market price has been closer to 3 cents.

Calpine Corp., which has signed up to sell 2,500 megawatts to DWR for 10 to 20 years, said it "does not expect to renegotiate" the deals, which it said "are very valuable for the state," and Williams Cos. Inc. spokeswoman Paula Hall-Collins said her company has signed a "fair contract" with the state.

Lynch said keeping the contracts as they are would mean Californians would be unfairly saddled with high electricity prices for years to come given the subsequent slump in power prices as the height of the emergency passed.

But a good part of that slump can be traced to the contracts themselves, according to Katherine Potter, a spokeswoman for Calpine, who said the contracts also helped reduce natural gas prices because power generators signed up for long-term gas supplies to run their plants.

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