California commission terminates proceedings for three NRG gas-fired projects

The California Energy Commission, on the advice of its staff and over the protests of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), on Oct. 14 terminated the site certification proceedings for three long-stalled, gas-fired power projects.

Commission staff said these applications for certification had lingered too long in the system. NRG, the owner of all three projects, said that it was still trying to work out power sale agreements for the projects and asked for an extra year. If it couldn’t move any of the projects forward within that year, NRG said it would not protest the certificate terminations at that time. The Oct. 14 decisions to terminate do not preclude NRG from applying at some point for a new certificate for any of these projects.

The covered projects are:

San Gabriel Generating Station

In 2007, San Gabriel Generation LLC, currently a subsidiary of NRG Energy, filed for the San Gabriel Generating Station (SGGS). SGGS, as proposed, would be a 696-MW natural-gas-fired combined-cycle plant consisting of two combustion turbine generators (CTG), two supplementally fired heat-recovery steam generators (HRSG), one steam turbine generator (STG), and ancillary equipment sited within the existing 60-acre Etiwanda Generating Station property located in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County. In 2009, a petition to suspend proceedings was granted for SGGS and it has remained in suspended status since that date.

Said a July 15 filing by this project company with the commission: “San Gabriel notes that the California Public Utilities Commission (‘CPUC’) has recently made a policy determination to rely on preferred resources as a significant percentage of resources to meet local reliability needs in the Los Angeles Basin. In fact, San Gabriel’s parent company, NRG Energy, Inc., fully supports the proliferation of preferred resources, and other NRG subsidiaries will be actively pursuing the deployment of preferred resources in the Los Angeles Basin through contracts awarded to them by Southern California Edison. However, whether those preferred resources appear in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of local reliability is still to be determined. If there are insufficient preferred resources to meet local reliability requirements in the Los Angeles load pocket, then the CPUC will have to rapidly authorize procurement of new gas-fired generation to make up the difference to ensure reliability. A rapid procurement will necessitate that new generation in the Los Angeles load pocket is rapidly permitted. San Gabriel is located in the Los Angeles load pocket.”

Sun Valley Energy Project

In 2005, Valle del Sol Energy LLC submitted an application to construct and operate a simple-cycle (peaking) plant named the Sun Valley Energy Project (SVEP), near Romoland in Riverside County, California. The SVEP would be a nominal 500 MW simple-cycle power plant consisting of five General Electric LMS100 natural gas-fired turbine generators. In 2011, the applicant’s petition to suspend proceedings was granted.

Said a July 15 filing by this project company: “Valle Del Sol notes that the California Public Utilities Commission (‘CPUC’) has recently made a policy determination to rely on preferred resources as a significant percentage of resources to meet local reliability needs in the Los Angeles Basin. In fact, Valle Del Sol’s parent company, NRG Energy, Inc., fully supports the proliferation of preferred resources, and other NRG subsidiaries will be actively pursuing the deployment of preferred resources in the Los Angeles Basin through contracts awarded to them by Southern California Edison. However, whether those preferred resources appear in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of local reliability is still to be determined. If there are insufficient preferred resources to meet local reliability requirements in the Los Angeles load pocket, then the CPUC will have to rapidly authorize procurement of new gas-fired generation to make up the difference to ensure reliability. A rapid procurement will necessitate that new generation in the Los Angeles load pocket is rapidly permitted. Valle Del Sol is located in the Los Angeles load pocket. By extending the suspension for an additional twelve months, the Commission will preserve the flexibility of Valle Del Sol to respond quickly to any emerging need for new gas-fired generation.”

Willow Pass Generating Station

The Energy Commission received the initial application for the Willow Pass Generating Station (WPGS) in 2008. WPGS, owned by NRG Energy and its NRG Willow Pass LLC affiliate, would consist of two power blocks, each containing one Siemens Flex Plant 10 combined-cycle unit located in the City of Pittsburg in Contra Costa County, California. The combined generating capacity of the two power blocks would be approximately 550 MW (net). The WPGS had been in suspended status since June 10, 2014.

Said a July 15 filing from the project company about this project: “Willow Pass suggests that there is some possibility that any emerging need for new gas-fired generation in the Greater Bay Area will become more apparent during the course of the next twelve months. Willow Pass is located in the Greater Bay Area load pocket. Extending the suspension for another twelve months will allow Willow Pass to quickly respond in the event a procurement opportunity arises, because a pending application for certification can be permitted more quickly than starting a new application for certification.”

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.