Dynegy explores California wave park to replace Morro Bay plant

An affiliate of Dynegy (NYSE: DYN), Dynegy Point Estero Wave Park LLC, applied Feb. 6 at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit on a wave park in the Pacific Ocean that would eventually produce over 650 MW.

A preliminary permit would allow the company three years of exclusivity to look at project feasibility, with a license application then needed if the decision is to move forward from there.

The project location is in California, in the Pacific Ocean off the town of Morro Bay and the existing Morro Bay power plant. That plant is due for imminent retirement, freeing up the power line capacity now used by the plant.

The Point Estero Wave Park will utilize the kinetic energy of the ocean swells, converting it into renewable electricity. Dynegy plans to deploy the GWAVE Power Generating Vessels under development by GWAVE LLC. The vessels are megawatt-scale high-efficiency ocean wave energy converters. The vessels will be moored to the ocean floor and float on the ocean’s surface.

As currently envisioned, the project would have three phases:

  • In the demonstration phase, a single vessel would operate in the project area principally as an experimental device for the primary purpose of gathering data needed for licenses and permits;
  • In the second commercial test phase, a small number of vessels will be arrayed in the project area principally to generate electricity for sale and secondarily to continue data work from the development phase. This second phase would consist of ten to sixteen vessels; and
  • In the final commercial phase, a larger number of vessels with total nameplate capacity of up to 650 MW will be installed in the project area to generate electricity for sale. However, the deliverable capacity will not be determined until appropriate interconnection studies are complete.

Dynegy anticipates that the vessels will be interconnected using a configuration similar to that deployed at offshore wind farms globally. Each vessel would be electrically connected in parallel by 345-kv AC submarine power cables to a submerged substation. Power would be aggregated at two or more submerged transformer buoys and stepped up to 230-kV AC for transmission to shore using two or more submarine cables. The cables would make shore at the site of Dynegy’s existing Morro Bay power plant.

The wave project will use the transmission switchyard facilities currently used by the Morro Bay Power Plant owned by an affiliate of Dynegy, Dynegy Morro Bay LLC (DMB). DMB has exclusive use of 650 MW of Capacity Injection Rights into the California bulk power system at this location which would enable Dynegy to deliver the full 650 MW under all modeled system conditions.

“Although DMB has announced the retirement of the Morro Bay Power Plant effective in February 2014, DMB will retain these Capacity Injection Rights for period of at least three years, a period that allows Dynegy to use those rights for the Point Estero Wave Park,” said the application. “Dynegy anticipates that the final installed capacity of the project will be at least 650 MW. The average net capacity factor of vessel array is expected to be approximately 50 percent, yielding net generation from the Commercial Phase of project of approximately 2.8 TWh annually.”

The Dynegy contact is: Henry Jones, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Dynegy Inc.,
 601 Travis, Suite 1400, Houston TX 77002, 713-767-8556.

Notable is that on Feb. 6, Dynegy filed with FERC basically an identical preliminary permit application, again for a wave project of 650 MW in size using 650 MW of transmission capacity at the existing Morro Bay power plant, under the slightly different project name of Dynegy Estero Bay Wave Park LLC.

Another wave park developer also interested in this area

Dynegy may have some competition for the transmission capacity at the existing Morro Bay plant. Coincidentally, also on Feb. 6, Archon Energy 1 Inc. filed a revised preliminary permit application with FERC for its Morro Bay Wave Park project. The application, originally filed in November 2013, was amended in the following ways:

  • the capacity was amended from the 200 MW-500 MW range to the 100 MW-500 MW range;
  • new land description and coordinates were added;
  • new project boundary maps were supplied; and
  • the project description was amended from “federal lands” to “state lands.”

The Archon Energy project would be located in the Pacific Ocean near San Luis Obispo County, Calif., west of the town of Morro Bay. The transmission cable from the wave park could possibly come to shore via an underground pipe to the Morro Bay, Cayucos or Baywood substation interconnection points.

“The Morro Bay Wave Park will utilize the kinetic energy of the ocean swells and convert it into clean, renewable electricity,” said the revised application. “The project is envisioned to utilize the power transmission corridor left behind after the future decommissioning of the 1002 MW Morro Bay Power Plant. The wave park could generate up to the capacity of the transmission corridor in several expansion phases once a successful pilot demonstration is completed or Phase 1 of a commercial license is granted. The full capacity will not be fully determined until an interconnection study is completed and wave converter technology is selected. The interconnection study will analyze three tie-in location alternatives at the Morro Bay, Cayucos and Baywood Substations including additional alternatives.”

Project contact information is: President Paul Grist, Archon Energy 1 Inc.,
 Suite 2800, 101 East Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602,
 (415) 377-2460, Paul@archonenergy.com.

The Dynegy website shows Morro Bay as a 650-MW (net), gas-fired peaker. The GenerationHub database indicates this 650-MW of listed capacity is apparently just Units 3 and 4, which are in service, while Units 1 and 2 (169 MW nameplate each) are both out of service. The GenerationHub database puts the steam turbine plant’s total capacity, including the shut units, at 1,056 MW.

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.