Gas-fired Oregon Clean Energy Center project needed to fill coal gap

The 799-MW, gas-fired Oregon Clean Energy Center LLC project is needed to fill a gap in part created by ongoing retirements of coal-fired capacity in the PJM Interconnection region.

That was one of the points made at an April 9 hearing of the Ohio Power Siting Board by William Martin, a managing member of North America Project Development LLC, the owner of Oregon Clean Energy Center LLC. The other co-managing member is William Siderewicz.

“We’re quite familiar with Ohio,” said Martin about he and his co-manager. “My company was the original developer of the Fremont, Ohio, 700-plus megawatt plant, in which we partnered with Calpine, and Bill Siderewicz was an executive with Calpine at the time, so the two of us had worked successfully in Ohio. In meetings with different entities here in Ohio, after that project was built, sold, and up and operating, we had a tour of the plant, and in discussions with people here in Ohio, we learned that there may be capacity needs and requirements in Ohio, particularly northwest Ohio.”

He added: “So we began an analysis, and when we felt that was indeed the case, that coal plants would be shutting down in PJM, in other words, Ohio and adjacent states, that they would have to be replaced by reliable and economic and environmentally-clean power plants, and gas-fired combined-cycle is really the best in all those categories of all the baseload plants you could create.”

The current project site, located just outside of Toledo near Lake Erie, was the only site that met all the needed criteria, Martin said. “We looked at a number of sites that were good, but usually something was missing, it’d be different in each case, and you really can’t afford to have any criterion missing or weak, and this project had met all our criteria.”

Asked when this plant would go commercial, Martin said: “We’ve been targeting the summer of 2016, but that will be really contingent upon the PJM…facility study. And I had a meeting with PJM on Monday in Pennsylvania, they’re the RTO that controls the electrical grid, and I think that process will lead us to a fall of 2016 or, perhaps, even a spring of 2017 start date.”

Oregon Clean Energy said in its January application to the board that it proposed to begin commercial operation by May 1, 2016, so Martin’s description of the PJM meeting indicates that the commercial start will likely be pushed back by several months.

Christopher Cunningham, a staff member at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which is an adjunct to the siting board, said that commission staff supports the project. He also pointed out the retirements of coal-fired capacity in the region as a reason for this project.

“As a reaction to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rules, there are over 6 gigawatts of capacity scheduled to be retired or to go offline in 2015,” Cunningham said. “Over two-and-a-half of those gigawatts of capacity are in the FirstEnergy service territory. This project is an 800-megawatt project and it’s also located in the FirstEnergy service territory. It does offset a large portion of the two-and-a-half gigawatts of capacity that are scheduled to go offline which goes a long way towards ensuring reliability and price stability in the service territory.”

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency went out for public comment on April 4 for a draft air pollution control permit-to-install (PTI) for the Oregon Clean Energy Center. This draft permit proposes to allow the installation of a nominal 799-MW combined-cycle gas turbine facility. A public hearing and information session on the draft air permit is scheduled for May 8 in Oregon, Ohio. Written comments on the draft permit must be received by the close of the business day on May 13.

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.