Two Huntington Beach units get extra time as synchronous condensers

AES Huntington Beach LLC (AESHB) on Oct. 24 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission an extended Reliability Must-Run (RMR) agreement that will keep two units at its power plant running through 2014.

RMRs are needed when a power generator wants to shut capacity, but the local grid operator, in this case the California ISO (CAISO), wants to keep it running for a while longer while compensating grid fixes are completed.

The RMR in this case applies to Huntington Beach Generating Station Units 3 and 4. In a Jan. 4 order, the commission accepted the current RMR agreement, effective as of Jan. 9.

AESHB owns and operates part of and leases and operates part of the Huntington Beach Generating Station. It is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of AES Corp. (NYSE: AES).

Under the RMR agreement, AESHB collects a cost-of-service rate in exchange for operating two synchronous condensers necessary to provide voltage support in the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego/Imperial Valley local areas that is critically needed as the result of the unexpected permanent shutdown of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Units 2 and 3. The RMR agreement provides CAISO the ability to dispatch Units 3 and 4 to provide voltage support when required for local reliability.

By letter dated Sept. 27, CAISO gave AESHB notice to extend the term of the RMR agreement for an additional calendar year, through Dec. 31, 2014. That extension is what was filed on Oct. 24 at FERC.

While existing units are extended, repowered plant in the works

AES Southland Development LLC told the California Energy Commission on Oct. 1 that it is concerned about the slow pace of review for its 939-MW Huntington Beach Energy Project (HBEP). The company said: “HBEP is a critical project needed to maintain reliability in the Los Angeles Basin. Applicant has committed significant resources toward the permitting and development of the project and wishes to move the application for certification process more quickly toward a Final Decision.”

In June 2012 AES Southland submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to the California Energy Commission seeking permission to construct and operate the HBEP, to be located entirely within the footprint of the existing Huntington Beach Generating Station.

The HBEP is a natural-gas fired, combined-cycle, air-cooled, 939-MW facility that will replace the existing power plant. HBEP will consist of two independently operating, three-on-one, combined-cycle gas turbine power blocks.

If the commission approves the project, which is estimated to cost between $500m to $550m, demolition and construction activities are scheduled between the first quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2022.

In an Oct. 10 report, commission staff noted: “The California ISO has recognized the importance of the existing HBGS location in providing energy and contingency reserve for the Western Los Angeles Basin Local Reliability Area and northern San Diego County. Specifically, this location serves Orange County by providing essential electrical service to the existing [Southern California Edison] Ellis substation through a dedicated 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line connection.”

The HBGS has five steam generating units (units 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). Units 1 and 2 are currently operational. Units 3 and 4 are owned by Edison Mission Huntington Beach LLC. Effective October 2012, Units 3 and 4 ceased commercial operation. In September 2012, the California ISO approved a must-run contract on Units 3 and 4 to convert to synchronous condensers to provide voltage support to southern Orange County and San Diego. Unit 5, a 133-MW peaker, was retired in 2002.

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.