California commission seeks input on Carlsbad gas project changes

The California Energy Commission is taking comment until Jan. 21 on a Preliminary Staff Assessment covering proposed changes in a 2012 commission approval of the gas-fired Carlsbad Energy Center Project (CECP).

The project owner and petitioner, Carlsbad Energy Center LLC, is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG).

The commission also plans Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 workshops on the assessment document and the proposed changes it covers in the city of Carlsbad. Another workshop will be held Jan. 14 at the commission offices in Sacramento, if needed.

The PSA is not a decision document for these proceedings, nor does it contain findings of the Energy Commission related to environmental impacts or the project’s compliance with local, state, and federal laws, ordinances, regulations and standards. The PSA serves as a precursor to the Final Staff Assessment (FSA). After allowing for a public comment period and holding public workshops on the PSA, staff will prepare and publish a FSA that will address comments received and serve as staff’s formal testimony in evidentiary hearings to be held by the Energy Commission Committee assigned to hear this case.

In May 2012, the Energy Commission approved the 540-MW CECP, with combined-cycle technology powered by natural gas and air-cooled by fin-fan heat exchange condensers. Necessary linear features approved for the licensed CECP include the option to use either reclaimed or desalinated seawater for the project’s daily industrial water requirements.

Following a change in regional reliability requirements due to the June 2013 decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, plans to amend the licensed CECP began. Amendments to the CECP were filed by the petitioner/project owner in two separate petitions (one filed on April 29 and the second on May 2). The two petitions were consolidated and combined into one proceeding.

The amended CECP would be located on about 30 acres (an expansion of seven acres from the licensed CECP footprint) at the northeastern corner of the 95-acre Encina Power Station (EPS) in the northern coastal San Diego County city of Carlsbad. The amended CECP would consist of six General Electric LMS 100 combustion-turbine units operating in simple-cycle mode. The amended CECP would generate a net of 632 MW (at 96°F and 36% relative humidity), and is designed to provide peaking power at a maximum 31% annual capacity factor. Similar to the licensed CECP, the amended CECP would interconnect with San Diego Gas & Electric‘s (SDG&E) 138-kV and 230-kV switchyard facilities.

The amended CECP would be developed in several phases over a 64-month period.

  • Phase I would be demolition of above-ground fuel oil storage tanks (ASTs) 1, 2 and 4 (following demolition of those ASTs already permitted for demolition by the licensed CECP).
  • Phase II would involve the construction, commissioning, and commencement of operation of the amended CECP power plant.
  • Following start-up of commercial operation, Phase III would begin a maximum 12-month phase that includes cessation of all once-through seawater cooling (OTC) at the EPS, per the state water board OTC deadline of Dec. 31, 2017.
  • Phase IV involves the demolition of EPS Units 1-5, the 200-foot concrete enclosure building housing the units, the 400-foot exhaust stack, and other above-ground ancillary facilities located west of the North Coast Transit District railroad tracks. The only facilities west of the rail tracks that would remain following Phase IV demolition would be facilities associated with the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project, and transmission and linear features necessary for the operation of the amended CECP power plant.
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.