Few Contenders for New CA Generation
In the midst of this week's power alerts exacerbated by
California's shortage of electric generating capacity, the
Sacramento Municipal Utility District drew only three responses to
a proposal put out for bids early in the summer to have a developer
build, own and operate a natural gas-fired 500 to 1,000 MW
generation plant on part of a 2,000-acre site owned by the nation's
largest municipal utility. The earliest the plant would be
operational would be in 2004.
The three bidders are: San Jose, CA-based Calpine Corp., one of
the state's and nation's most aggressive merchant power plant
developers; a unit of Florida Power and Light; and a group
involving El Paso Merchant Energy, Aquila Energy, Nashville,
TN-based consultant, Endeco, and a Sacramento consulting firm, TSS
Consultants, according to SMUD officials administering the program.
The bids closed at 5 p.m. last Friday.
"I have not opened any of the proposals at this point, and I
wouldn't be at liberty to disclose anything about pricing until
after the evaluation is complete," said John Bell, the engineer in
charge of the bidding program who said he was expecting at least
"five or six" proposals based on what power plant developers had
indicated to him.
Current plans call for evaluation of the bids and selection of a
finalist by Oct. 12; negotiations on the deal between that time and
Nov. 15; and development of a final contract for okay by the SMUD
board at the end of November, Bell said.
SMUD has proposed using 60 to 80 acres of its 2,000-acre
property which originally was marked for development of a
now-abandoned nuclear plant 35 miles southeast of the state
Capitol. The mothballed nuclear facility uses about 100 acres;
parkland, a game refuge and a 3-MW photovoltaic electric generation
site are part of the surrounding property.
Electric transmission lines are less than a mile from the
proposed new gas-fired generation plant site. Natural gas tie-in
could be done by connecting with nearby Pacific Gas and Electric
Co. transmission pipelines or by running a pipeline lateral about
20 miles to a SMUD gas transmission line feeding several large
"There is plenty of acreage," Bell said. "There are two proposed
locations in our RFP, each about 30 to 40 acres apiece. They could
come in with proposals to use it all. (A 500-MW plant on each of
the two sites within the larger acreage.)
SMUD will contract with the developer/operator for some portion
of the new plant's output with the rest being sold on the grid,
Richard Nemec, Los Angeles
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