Puget Sound Energy buys gas-fired plant from Tenaska

As part of an ongoing effort to secure firm power supplier, Puget Sound Energy said Nov. 15 that it has bought a 270-MW natural gas-fired power plant in northwest Washington from Tenaska Washington Partners LP.

Said Paul Wiegand, PSE senior vice president of Energy Operations: “With the addition of this plant to our supply portfolio, our customers gain another cost-effective, environmentally responsible source of power.”

The Whatcom County facility employs combined-cycle, cogeneration technology that can generate electricity first from its natural gas-fired turbines, and then from a steam-driven turbine drawing exhaust heat from the two gas-fired units. Built in 1994, the plant is adjacent to a Phillips 66 oil refinery about five miles west of Ferndale. Through 2011, PSE had purchased the plant’s power output from Tenaska.

Market studies indicated that utility ownership of the facility will provide lower-cost power to PSE customers, Wiegand said. The Ferndale transaction was the result of a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process the utility initiated in 2011 to solicit outside power-supply offers.

The acquisition is part of PSE’s ongoing efforts to procure the additional power supplies needed to serve customers. With the Ferndale transaction, PSE has obtained more than 2,100 MW of power-generating assets over the past 10 years. That includes PSE’s development of three large wind facilities and the purchase of four other gas-fired cogens. The utility also has secured a significant amount of power supply in recent years under long-term purchased-power contracts with other energy producers.

Even with these power acquisitions, PSE estimates it still needs about 160 MW of additional electric resources by the end of 2017 to meet customers’ wintertime peaks in power demand. PSE owns three other natural gas-fired plants in Whatcom County: the 147-MW Whitehorn Generating Station, the 167-MW Encogen Generating Station, and the 125-MW Sumas Generating Station.

Said the Tenaska website about this plant: “The 270-megawatt (MW) Tenaska Ferndale Cogeneration Station in Ferndale, Wash. provided power to Puget Sound Energy, Inc. (PSE) to meet the region’s growing electric demand until December 31, 2011, and now operates as a merchant plant. Tenaska worked closely with PSE to meet its need for a hydro-firming resource, coordinating the plant’s operation with water availability and hydroelectric operation in the Pacific Northwest. The Ferndale plant, which provides process steam to the adjacent ConocoPhillips oil refinery, has operated safely and reliably since it started generating electricity in 1994.”

Washington state’s oldest local energy company, Puget Sound Energy serves 1.1 million electric customers and more than 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties. A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its customers, in part, through cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and investment in energy-delivery infrastructure. Puget Energy, a subsidiary of Puget Holdings LLC, is a Bellevue, Wash.-based company whose core business is Puget Sound Energy.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.