Backers fire up 800-MW CPV Sentinel peaker in California

In time to meet the summer heat, California’s newest power plant, the 800-MW CPV Sentinel Energy Project, has begun flowing electricity to the grid three months earlier than planned.

Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), General Electric’s (NYSE: GE) GE Energy Financial Services subsidiary and Diamond Generating Corp. (DGC) said May 16 that the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and the California Energy Commission have declared commercial operations while the Chief Building Officer issued a final Certificate of Occupancy for the natural gas-powered plant in Riverside County. 

The CPV Sentinel Energy Project is located near Desert Hot Springs, amidst wind farms producing 600 MW, five miles northwest of Palm Springs. The project uses the most modern “peaking” technology available, the GE LMS100 aeroderivative gas turbine, to provide electricity in Southern California Edison‘s service territory. Eight units with quick-starting and fast-ramping capability make the project a perfect fit for summer peak seasons, while also backing up California’s growing solar and wind farms that literally surround the plant.

“With California’s San Onofre nuclear plant off-line and power reserve margins expected to be tight, it is more important than ever that the CPV Sentinel Energy Project be available to support electric reliability this summer,” said John Murphy, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Construction for CPV. “Gemma Power Systems did a fantastic job of working with GE and our team to complete this project ahead of schedule and on budget.”

Gemma Power Systems California was the general contractor overseeing construction of the project.

The project uses Best Available Control Technology for air emissions and Zero Liquid Discharge for water usage, making it one of the state’s most environmentally friendly natural gas-fired power generation facilities. The commencement of Sentinel’s operations allows the grid operator to rely less on older and inefficient power generation, the companies noted.

The project is providing power based on short-term sales agreements now. Beginning in August, CPV Sentinel will supply electricity under a long-term power purchase agreement to Southern California Edison, an Edison International (NYSE: EIX) company.

CPV, the managing member, developer and asset manager, owns 25% of the project, while DGC owns 50% and will serve as the plant’s operator and GE Energy Financial Services owns 25%.

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., CPV currently has 5,000 MW of conventional generation projects in various stages of development. The company’s Asset Management division has ramped up to more than 4,200 MW of natural gas generation under management and has been expanding into wind generation facility management. CPV Renewable Energy Co. (REC) is currently developing 1,300 MW of wind power projects across North America, with plans for more. CPV REC has recently expanded its development portfolio to include utility-scale solar power generation.

GE Energy Financial Services—GE’s energy investing business—works as a builder, not just a banker, to help meet the world’s power and fuel needs. Based in Stamford, Conn., GE Energy Financial Services holds an approximately $20bn global energy portfolio.

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., one of the world’s most diverse enterprises, with over 500 subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide, DGC has developed a reputation for financial strength and long-term stability. Headquartered in Los Angeles, DGC currently owns 10 operating generating facilities around the U.S. totaling 5,000 MW, with about 1,850 MW of net equity. Of these, two are wind projects and the remainder is natural-gas fired. DGC currently operates four of its facilities in California.

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.