NRG still searching for a power sales deal for Willow Pass project

NRG Willow Pass LLC said in a Dec. 2 status report filed at the California Energy Commission that it is still looking for a power sale agreement for its 550-MW, gas-fired project.

The Willow Pass Generating Station is a proposed 550-MW facility to be located in Pittsburg, Calif. The commission’s siting review process for this project, which began in 2008, has lately been on hold, with the company filing periodic reports on progress so far.

“There are no new developments to report since the last status report,” said the Dec. 2 update. “As reported previously, NRG remains committed to pursuing the Willow Pass Project and continues to look for opportunities to restart active development. The timing likely depends on the availability of a long-term contracting opportunity that would support financing and construction. The California Public Utilities Commission (‘CPUC’) conducts a long-term procurement plan (‘LTPP’) process that evaluates the need for new electricity generating capacity to meet reliability needs within the service territories of the three major investor-owned utilities. A new LTPP cycle is expected to commence in 2014 and that process could lead to contracting opportunities for new resources.”

Development of Willow Pass would entail the construction of two generating units and ancillary systems including, adjacent electric and gas transmission lines, and water and wastewater pipelines. Willow Pass would be located two miles west of the Pittsburg city center within the existing Pittsburg Power Plant. The Pittsburg Power Plant site is occupied by seven generating units. Willow Pass would occupy a 26-acre parcel adjacent to the existing units.

Willow Pass would consist of two power blocks, each containing one Siemens Flex Plant 10 (FP10) combined-cycle unit. The combined generating capacity of the two power blocks would be about 550 MW (net). The units are expected to operate at a 40% to 50% capacity factor and would use air-cooled heat exchanger (ACHE) technology to reduce water consumption.

The land is currently owned by a subsidiary of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), but would be conveyed to Willow Pass. NRG thus holds long-term site control and there are no uncertainties associated with site ownership. The Willow Pass Project also will be adjacent to an existing transmission switchyard and very close to an existing natural gas pipeline. NRG said it also holds sufficient emission reduction credits to construct the Willow Pass Project in compliance with applicable air quality laws, ordinances, standards and regulations.

“The existing record indicates that no major issues have been identified for the Willow Pass Project,” the Dec. 2 update said. “As reported in previous status reports, there is additional work to be done to complete the site investigation contemplated in the staff-approved Work Plan for Focused Site Investigation and Focused Heath Risk Assessment that was prepared by a consultant to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (‘PG&E’), the former owner of the project site, in response to staff’s Data Requests 73 through 75. The work plan provides for collection of soil vapor and groundwater samples and preparation of a focused Health Risk Assessment that includes a Human Health Risk Assessment and a Screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment (‘HRA’). At the appropriate time, Willow Pass will work with PG&E to conduct the sampling and prepare the HRA for submission to staff.”

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.