Portland General Electric plans Carty, Port Westward 2 gas units

Oregon regulators are reviewing plans for an upcoming request for proposals that could lead to new natural gas generation being built to serve Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) customers.

During the next 20 years, demand for electricity to serve Oregon customers is expected to increase more than 45%, compared to 30% nationally.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission could issue an RFP for energy and capacity resources as early as June 5, a PGE spokesperson said recently. PGE is developing “benchmark” proposals for the new Carty combined-cycle natural gas plant as well as new gas-fired generation at its Port Westward gas-fueled power plant.

In March, the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) issued a proposed order that recommended the state Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) grant a site certificate for PGE’s proposed Carty gas-fired generating station.

Siting officials were scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Carty proposal April 13 in Boardman, Ore.

In 2009, PGE submitted a notice of intent to submit a site certification application for the Carty project. Carty would provide between 300 MW and 500 MW of baseload generation.

The proposed Carty station site is located in Morrow County, southwest of the city of Boardman, and north of the Carty reservoir. The location is also next to the existing Boardman coal plant.

PGE proposes an associated transmission line, to be located primarily within an existing transmission right-of-way, which would extend across the western portion of Morrow County, into the eastern portion of Gilliam County to connect to the existing Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Slatt substation.

If approved, cooling towers would be constructed to handle excess heat from the power generation process. The cooling towers would be about 50-feet high, according to documents filed with the state.

The Carty gas plant plans serve as a “benchmark” proposal and be submitted for comparison against third-party bids with an independent evaluator. The plant will only be built if it is selected as the best option in this competitive bidding process with the acknowledgement of the OPUC.

If Carty is selected in the RFP process, then Portland envisions licensing, construction and startup by 2016.

If PGE is allowed to proceed with a self-build, about 300 to 400 workers would be employed during the three-year construction process, the utility has said. About 20 full-time people would be needed once the plant starts operation.           

Meanwhile, Portland General Electric is also interested in developing 100 to 220 MW of new flexible natural gas generation at its Port Westward 2 complex. As part of the utility’s 2009 Integrated Resource Plan, PGE is proposing to build a second natural gas-fired generating unit on the existing Port Westward site.

If PGE’s Port Westward 2 is selected during a competitive bidding process, the new unit could come online in 2014.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.