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The California Energy Commission (CEC) siting committee provisionally recommended approval of plans by a unit of NRG Energy Inc.to build a 558 MW combined-cycle gas-fired power plant on 23 acres of NRG's existing 100-acre Encina generation plant site in Carlsbad, CA. The committee is seeking input on determining if the current repowering plans provide "extraordinary public benefit" under the criteria established by the South Carlsbad Coastal Redevelopment Project Area Plan. That enhanced benefit might come from NRG's plans for removal of the existing 900 MW gas-fired plant. If licensed by the CEC, construction of the plant is expected to take about 25 months. NRG has said construction could begin by the end of the third quarter. Existing gas-fired Units 1, 2 and 3 at the larger site would be retired.

Xcel Energy's Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant was out of service Tuesday following the unplanned shut down of the 1,100 MW facility's Unit 2 early Monday morning. Operators investigated the cause of the unit automatically tripping off line, determining that it was weather-related. "A storm caused a disturbance on the grid that affected the plant's protective relaying," said a plant spokesperson. "Operators will gradually increase power until the unit is at full power, which is expected within a day or so." On April 29, Prairie Island's Unit 1 was shut down for refueling. Thus, both 550 MW units were idle. The outage at the Red Wing, MN, plant's second unit was expected to be short-lived. Unit 1's refueling is planned for four to six weeks, meaning the multi-state utility holding company will be drawing on added supplies from its other generation sources or purchasing more power in the wholesale market (see Daily GPI, May 4).

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