California adds 2,110 MW in 2013, more on the way this year

There has been a total of 2,110 MW of generating capacity brought on-line so far in 2013, all of it officially on May 1 by parties like Edison Mission Energy, said the project website of the California Energy Commission.

The projects that came on-line on (or around) May 1 are, said the website:

  • Walnut Creek Peaker (gas-fired), Edison Mission Energy, 500 MW, Los Angeles;
  • Marsh Landing Generating Station (gas-fired), Mirant Marsh Landing LLC, 760 MW, Contra Costa; and
  • Sentinel Peaker (gas-fired), CPV Sentinel LLC, 850 MW, Riverside.

The 2,110 MW brought on-line so far this year dwarfs already the 902 MW brought on-line in California in 2012 and the 296 MW in 2011. The need for new capacity in California became even more critical with the announcement June 7 by Southern California Edison that it will give up its attempts to restart the 2,200-MW San Onofre nuclear plant and will retire it instead.

Depending on any updated construction schedules per project, 2013 promises to be an even bigger year for new capacity by the time it’s done. The projects that the commission website shows as under construction and due to come on-line during the rest of the year are:

  • Los Esteros Combined Cycle (gas-fired), Calpine, 140 MW (uprate of existing capacity), Santa Clara, due on-line in June;
  • Russell City (gas-fired), Calpine and General Electric, 600 MW, Alameda, on-line in July;
  • El Segundo Power Redevelopment (dry cooling amendment), El Segundo Power II LLC, 630 MW, Los Angeles, on-line in August;
  • Ivanpah Solar, Brightsource, 370 MW, San Bernardino, phased on-line approach over the 2012-2014 period.

Backers mark the start ups of the May projects

Leaders of California’s top energy and environmental regulatory organizations on May 10 joined Edison Mission Energy to dedicate the Walnut Creek Energy Park 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.

NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) said May 1 that it has brought online the Marsh Landing peaking power plant in time for summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. The fast-start technology employed by Marsh Landing supports the integration of new renewable energy sources expected to come online in the next decade, NRG said. The Marsh Landing peaker allows NRG to immediately retire two less-efficient, 1960s-era units at its adjacent Contra Costa Generating Station that relied on once-through cooling.

Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) said May 16 that the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and the California Energy Commission have declared commercial operations for CPV Sentinel. The 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 SCE’s service territory. Eight units with quick-starting and fast-ramping capability can meet summer peak seasons, while also backing up California’s growing solar and wind farms that literally surround the plant.

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.