NGI The Weekly Gas Market Report / NGI All News Access

CA Power Plants Move Ahead

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 November.

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 again.)

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

©Copyright 2000 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.

Comments powered by Disqus