CA Power Plants Move Ahead
Momentum may have appeared just in time last week for
California's sluggish power plant siting system with state
approvals on short- and long-term electricity capacity additions
and the prospects for putting another 2,000-plus MW in play by the
end of February
With these additions, six projects totaling nearly 5,000 MW have
been approved with at least half of the capacity slated to come on
line next summer, albeit late in the air-conditioning season.
California's power plant siting agency Oct. 25 unanimously
approved Duke Energy's plans to build new facilities at its
existing Moss Landing generating plant site along the central
California coast, adding 1,200-MW capacity while eliminating eight
225-foot smoke stakes and 10 oil storage tanks at the generating
site developed in the early 1950s. After a 22-month review process,
Duke officials said they will begin construction today (Oct. 30).
The $500 million project includes dismantling the smokestacks,
tanks and five generation units that have been mothballed,
replacing them with two newer, more efficient natural gas-fired
combined-cycle units. The existing units generating about 1,500-MW
also will be upgraded.
In separate action, the California Energy Commission also
approved a fast-track 51-MW plant at San Francisco International
Airport to be developed by El Paso Merchant Energy as a preliminary
project to a larger 570-MW natural gas-fired plant it intends to
build at the same site. El Paso intends to file a separate
application for the larger plant with the state commission in
This is the first project accepted for review by the energy
commission under terms of a new state law enacted late this summer
to speed up the approval process on some new power plant projects.
Permanent new rules and regulations for the expedited, six-month
siting process will be considered by the energy plant site
regulators Nov. 8.
At Moss Landing, as part of the conditions of the state
approval, Duke has agreed to pay $7 million to help mitigate the
impacts of the power plant's operations on the surrounding marine
biology in the area. It also must pay $425,000 to the Monterey Bay
Sanctuary Foundation to fund the Coastal Waters Evaluation Program,
evaluating the effects on biological resources in the Bay resulting
from the power plant's thermal discharge.
"Moss Landing becomes the sixth California plant approved since
the state's electricity market was restructured in March 1998," the
energy commission said in its formal announcement on its action.
"When operating, these plants will represent a total generation
capacity of 4,708-MW, with 2,048-MW expected to be on-line by
2001." (Most would not be operable until the middle- to late-summer
next year, a time when energy officials expect a supply crunch
The other five new plants already approved-three of which are
already under construction-represent a collective investment of
more than $2 billion.
In a separate action on Monday, Duke re-filed its revised plans
for its Morro Bay plant about 80 miles south of Moss. That proposal
now calls for total tearing down of the existing generation units,
including smokestacks and storage tanks, and replacement with new
units that generate 1,200-1,300-MW with a relatively small
footprint in the local community, to which Duke is making a number
of monetary and environmental concessions.
The energy commission-approved "fast-track" plant by El Paso is
called the United Golden Gate Power Project, involves a simple
cycle power plant at the city's airport in suburban San Mateo
County immediately south of San Francisco.
"Only simple-cycle plants that present no significant adverse
environmental impact, and are equipped with best air emissions
control technology are eligible for this fast-track review
process," the energy commission announcement stated, noting that
the new state law applies to only "certain types" of power plants.
At the same meeting Oct. 25, the power plant regulators denied
approving several small, peak-shaving plant proposals by San Jose,
CA-based Calpine Corp., meaning the applications have to revised
before they can be reconsidered.
Richard Nemec, Los Angeles