Avenal pursues nine-month delay for 600-MW California project

The California Energy Commission is taking comment until Dec. 8, with a Dec. 10 decision possible, on a recent construction start deadline delay request from Avenal Power Center LLC.

On Oct. 22, Avenal Power Center requested a nine-month construction deadline extension for the Avenal Energy Project, from Dec. 16, 2014, to Sept. 16, 2015. The primary challenges delaying project progress include the initial acquisition and subsequent litigation pertaining to Avenal’s federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air permit application.

In December 2009, the Energy Commission certified Avenal as a 600-MW natural gas-fired plant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not issue a final PSD permit until May 2011. Several parties appealed the PSD issuance to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2012, due to the uncertainties of the pending litigation, Avenal filed a Petition to Amend (PTA) the Energy Commission’s Final Decision. The 2012 PTA proposed new and modified Air Quality (AQ) conditions of certification to allow Avenal to build/operate either as a major or minor stationary source of criteria air pollutant emissions (depending on the outcome of the Ninth Circuit decision. The Energy Commission approved Avenal’s amendment on Jan. 9, 2013.

In August 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision revoking Avenal’s PSD Permit, sending it back to U.S. EPA to revise. Based upon the timing and outcome of the court’s decision APC is requesting a nine-month extension “to rethink the options…[and have] the opportunity to fully evaluate those options prior to [license] expiration.”

Energy Commission staff intends to recommend approval of the petition at Dec. 10 Business Meeting of the Energy Commission.

The project is located in Kings County near the intersection of Interstate 5 and Avenal Cutoff Road. It is a nominal 600-MW gas-fired plant configured with two General Electric Model 7241FA gas turbines, each of which exhausts into a fired heat recovery steam generator.

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.