The AES Corporation’s (AES - Analyst Report) two subsidiaries AES Wind Generation and AES Energy Storage began the commercial operation of their wind generation plant known as AES Laurel Mountain.
The plant comprises 98 megawatt (MW) of wind generation capacity and 32 MW of integrated battery-based energy storage capacity. The 61 wind turbines are mounted on 80-meter towers positioned along a 13-mile stretch of Laurel Mountain located in Randolph and Barbour counties near Elkins, West Virginia.
AES Laurel Mountain is among the first wind generators to supply critical operating reserve capacity to help maintain the reliability of the power grid. With 61 GE 1.6 MW wind turbine generators, the project is supplying emissions-free renewable energy and clean, flexible, operating reserve capacity to the PJM Interconnection which is the largest power market in the world. The facility is expected to supply more than 260,000 MWh of emissions-free, renewable energy each year to the PJM Interconnection.
The project will provide PJM with regulation service, delivering instantaneous response to grid operator requests for power, helping to match generation and demand. The plant’s storage capacity with advanced battery technology will help to optimize the renewable energy generated and will also allow the wind facility to control the ramp rate of generation.
The 32 MW project is AES Wind Generation’s second wind facility that serves the PJM market, following the successful completion of AES Armenia Mountain located in Pennsylvania. Overall, AES Corporation has 72 MW of grid-scale storage resources in operation and construction and more than 500 MW of advanced energy storage projects in development.
Its other projects that are in operation include an 8 MW battery system in the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) market and a 12MW frequency regulation and spinning reserve solution at AES Gener’s Los Andes substation in Chile.
The AES Corporationhas business exposure to 28 countries around the globe, which insulates it from any region-specific risk. With a base of fossil fuel plants, the company is predominantly involved in long-term contracts, which do not allow for any rate base growth in the near term for its regulated utilities. The company is investing a substantial chunk of funds for capacity expansion in the power hungry regions of Latin America and Asia.
Also AES’ ongoing merger transaction with DPL Inc. is a boost for its regulated electricity business and is expected to be a strategic fit. Over the long term, we remain positive on the company and suggest that investors wait for a favorable entry point. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks #2 Rank (Buy). We have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.
The company is expected to release its earnings on November 4, 2011. One of its competitor’s Duke Energy Corporation (DUK - Analyst Report) is expected to release its earnings on November 3, 2011.
The AES Corporation is a global power company spread over 28 countries in five continents. AES Corporation operates in two lines of business – Generation and Utilities.