IID’s El Centro 3 repowering project expected online in October

After some delays, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) in California expects to have its $250m repowering project for the El Centro 3 gas-fired power unit operating by early October.

The project, which got an updated license from the California Energy Commission in 2010, is designed to increase the energy output of the original 44-MW energy unit by almost 100 MW, according to the IID website.

In May, the project had a setback when one of the generators experienced a series of “back fires” or “flashbacks,” an IID spokesperson said in a Sept. 17 email response to GenerationHub. Initial inspections revealed significant damage to the unit’s compressor. A replacement turbine was installed and the project is now in its testing phase, the spokesperson said.

The original turbine is undergoing a forensic study to determine the root cause of the issue, the official added.

The El Centro Unit 3 repowering project is a nominally-rated 140-MW natural-gas, combined-cycle project, boosting energy capacity by almost 100 MW. That represents a 218% increase in energy output over the original unit, IID has said.

The project involves replacement of a 1957-vintage boiler along with old turbine generators. The revamped El Centro 3 will be a natural-gas combined-cycle system consisting of two combustion turbine generators, two heat recovery steam generators and a steam turbine generator.

The project is designed not only to increase IID’s generating capacity, but also overall system reliability and fuel efficiency while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The revamped generator will consume one-third of the water of the current one on a per-MW basis, IID said.

IID describes itself as the third largest public power provider in California. It manages more than 1,000 MW of energy from a portfolio that includes gas, oil, hydro and nuclear. IID also plans to blend more renewable power into the mix.

IID has 145,000 customers in Imperial County and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties.

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.