Due to plant retirements, Southern California Ed alters Mojave Solar interconnect deal

Southern California Edison on Feb. 22 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission an amended Standard Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (LGIA) with Mojave Solar LLC and the California Independent System Operator for a completed project that has interconnection facilities affected by the retirement of power plants in that same part of the grid.

The agreement provides for the interconnection of the 275-MW solar thermal Mojave Solar Project, located in the county of San Bernardino, California. The project interconnects to SCE’s Kramer Substation at the 220 kV bus. The original LGIA was accepted for filing by FERC in 2011. This project went commercial in December 2014.

While SCE was in the process of obtaining its required licensing approvals from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to construct needed grid upgrades to support this project, the CPUC sought comments as to the continued need for those upgrades. This was due to a local generator with a lengthy history of operating a generating facility in the vicinity of the project giving notice to the CPUC that its Coolwater Generating Station would be permanently retired on Jan. 1, 2015, thereby potentially making transmission capacity in the area available for other generating facilities to use.

In supplemental comments in March 2015, the CAISO stated that its 2015 annual reassessment of upgrades indicated that sufficient transmission capacity was available in the project area so that the Mojave Solar Project could achieve Full Capacity Deliverability Status without the construction of the original upgrades. The change in the project’s delivery status was principally due to the election by several existing generating facilities in the area (other than the Coolwater Generating Station) to permanently retire and forego repowering. As a result, the CPUC concluded that significant material changes in transmission grid conditions had resulted which allowed the CAISO to assign Full Capacity Deliverability Status to the Mojave Solar Project without the construction of SCE’s proposed Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project. As a result, the CPUC dismissed SCE’s application without prejudice.

The parties have now agreed to amend the LGIA to remove the originally-planned upgrades.

The 636-MW, gas-fired Coolwater facility in California was retired from service in January 2015, said NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) in its February 2015 annual Form 10-K report. The Form 10-K noted: “During the fourth quarter of 2014, the Company determined that it would pursue retiring the 636 MW natural-gas fired Coolwater facility in Dagget, California. The facility faced critical repairs on the cooling towers for units 3 and 4 and, during the fourth quarter of 2014, did not receive any awards in a near-term capacity auction and no interest in a bilateral capacity deal. … The Company retired the Coolwater facility effective January 1, 2015.”