San Diego Gas & Electric talking with NRG about Carlsbad project

San Diego Gas & Electric is taking a new look at a possible, 558-MW gas-fired addition to NRG Energy’s (NYSE: NRG) Encina Power Station site.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Dec. 4 that at a Dec. 3 Carlsbad City Council meeting, the idea of this new power plant, to be called the Carlsbad Energy Center, came up as a partial replacement for the retired San Onofre nuclear plant, which has a capacity of about 2,200 MW. The nuclear plant is being retired after Southern California Edison decided to not make expensive fixes to the plant and due to entrenched local opposition to the plant’s continued operation.

Officials from both NRG and SDG&E told Carlsbad City Council members that SDG&E might eventually buy power from the new plant if NRG redesigns it as a “peaker plant,” which would run less often and be less conspicuous than the plant NRG planned to build, the report said.

The Carlsbad City Council, which has long opposed any type of power plant on the site, voted unanimously to negotiate a compromise with the two companies over the project, the report said. City officials said the shutdown and demolition of the existing Encina plant would have to be part of any deal they’d approve. “Our driving motive is to get the site as clean as possible,” Mayor Matt Hall said.

The report noted that the city of Carlsbad unsuccessfully appealed the California Energy Commission’s 2012 approval of the project, then took its case to the state Supreme Court, where the city lost again.

Utility spokeswoman Jennifer Ramp said in a Dec. 4 e-mail to Generation Hub about the situation: “The project as originally proposed by NRG is not of interest to SDG&E and was not selected in the last competitive solicitation as it did not meet the ‘least cost-best fit’ guidelines of the [California Public Utilities Commission]. SDG&E has been approached by NRG about the possibility of exploring changes with the proposed facility and if it might be something SDG&E would support, and SDG&E is supportive to opening this dialogue as we would like to part of the solution in resolving Southern California’s reliability issues.”

Carlsbad Energy Center LLC, a unit of NRG, has proposed to develop this natural gas-fueled facility in the City of Carlsbad in San Diego County, California. As proposed, the Carlsbad project would be a fast-start combined-cycle facility. The currently planned project would be a 558-MW (gross) facility configured using two units with one natural gas-fueled combustion turbine and one steam turbine per unit.

As part of the existing Carlsbad project, existing steam boiler Units 1, 2, and 3 at the Encina Power Station would be retired. The retirements will occur upon the successful commercial operations of the new Carlsbad generating units.

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.