Edison Mission Energy dedicates 479-MW Walnut Creek gas project

Leaders of California’s top energy and environmental regulatory organizations on May 10 joined Edison Mission Energy President Pedro Pizarro to dedicate the gas-fired Walnut Creek Energy Park (WCEP) in the City of Industry.

The new plant began selling energy into the southern California electrical grid this spring and will begin full-scale commercial operation under a 10-year contract to sell power to Southern California Edison (SCE) in June. Designed to help meet peak demand for electricity, the 479-MW project is able to produce enough energy to power 165,000 residential central air conditioning units in the Los Angeles Basin.

Participants in the dedication included: California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey; California Independent System Operator (CAISO) Chairman and city of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster; CAISO President and CEO Steve Berberich; California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols; and California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister.

“Walnut Creek builds on Edison Mission Energy’s 27-year history of developing, building and operating natural gas-fired power generation to provide safe, reliable electricity to California homes and businesses,” said Pizarro.

Walnut Creek serves as a quick response peaker that will generate electricity when customer demand is highest. It will likely run 20% to 40% of the time, most frequently during the summer months or when electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power ramps down.

Fueled by natural gas, the $500m project is equipped with five General Electric LMS 100 gas turbines can start and ramp up to full power in 10 minutes. WCEP replaces two, 52-year-old generating units in Huntington Beach that used ocean water for cooling before they were retired. WCEP uses reclaimed water for cooling.

With the addition of Walnut Creek, EME now owns interests in or operates 10 power generating facilities in California, all of which are fueled by natural gas. EME’s net ownership of generating capacity in the state is 1,465 MW.

Headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif., EME owns, operates or leases a portfolio of more than 40 electric generating sites in 13 states that are powered by wind, natural gas and coal, as well as an energy marketing and trading operation based in Boston. EME operates one of the largest wind energy projects in the U.S. with a current portfolio of 29 projects in operation in 11 states with a total generating capacity of nearly 2,000 MW.

EME and some of its affiliated companies, though not all of them, filed in December 2012 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The case is still in its fairly early stages and EME is running its operations at a fairly normal level in the meantime.

SCE is a regulated subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX), while EME has been a non-regulated subsidiary of Edison International. The stated intent in the bankruptcy case is to turn various EME assets over to creditors.

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.