California commission puts NRG Willow Pass review on the shelf

The California Energy Commission, at the request of project developer NRG Willow Pass LLC, on June 10 put a review proceeding on the 550-MW, gas-fired Willow Pass power project in suspension until June 30, 2015.

During the suspension, commission staff and all responsible agencies will cease work on the 2008 application and all pending motions are stayed. The company was told to provide quarterly status reports beginning Sept. 1 during the suspension period. Staff and other parties may also file status reports but are not required to do so.

Said the May 23 suspension request: “Willow Pass and its ultimate parent, NRG Energy, Inc. (‘NRG’), remain committed to pursuing the Willow Pass Project and continue to seek 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 biennial long-term procurement plan (‘LTPP’) process that typically evaluates the need for new electricity generating capacity to meet reliability needs within the service territories of the three major investor-owned utilities. The CPUC recently initiated a new LTPP cycle and in that proceeding the CPUC will consider the need for flexible generating capacity and other resources to meet long-term reliability needs. The LTPP process could lead to contracting opportunities for new resources such as the Willow Pass Project.”

The company noted that it holds sufficient emission reduction credits to construct the Willow Pass Project in compliance with applicable air quality laws, ordinances, standards and regulations. Such credits can be hard to come by in emissions-constrained California.

The Willow Pass Generating Station would be a new, approximately 550-MW dry-cooled, natural gas-fired facility located in the city of Pittsburg in Contra Costa County, Calif. It would be located within the existing Pittsburg Power Plant site.

Willow Pass would consist of two power blocks, each containing one Siemens Flex Plant 10 (FP10) combined-cycle unit. The combined capacity of the two power blocks would be about 550 MW (net). The units would use air-cooled heat exchanger technology to reduce water usage.

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.