NRG pursues approvals in Massachusetts for Canal 3 peaker project

NRG Canal 3 Development LLC applied on Dec. 3 with the Energy Facilities Siting Board for approval to construct a new power plant in the town of Sandwich, capable of generating around 350 MW.

That board currently has that application up for comment until Feb. 29. NRG has also filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities seeking a comprehensive zoning exemption, or in the alternative certain individual zoning exemptions, from the Town of Sandwich Zoning Bylaw for the proposed facility. This project would be located on an approximately 12-acre site within the larger 52-acre site on Freezer Road in Sandwich on which the existing Canal Generating Station is located. The company’s two petitions have been consolidated for hearing before the Siting Board.

Notable is that NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) on Feb. 11 announced that its Canal 3 development project, a 333-MW gas turbine peaker, cleared the ISO New England tenth forward capacity auction at a price of $7.03/Kw-month. Canal 3’s selection demonstrates the value of new fast-start, flexible power generation in a region experiencing multiple facility retirements, NRG said. Canal 3 is scheduled to go online in 2019, with capital investment beginning in late 2017 and significant development expenditures in 2018. 

For the new Canal unit, NRG elected to receive the auction clearing price for seven capacity commitment periods, which means that the new unit will receive the FCA10 clearing price for seven years, with years 2-7 adjusted for inflation. This is an important capacity market feature that is helping to bring new generation resources online, NRG added.

NRG EVP of Development John Chillemi said: “We’re especially pleased that our new Canal 3 project cleared the auction, allowing us to provide valuable generation to the region and continue our robust fleet modernization program.”

Project features one turbine, possibly a GE model

The proposed facility would be a dual-fuel, natural gas and ultra-low-sulfur-distillate (ULSD) oil, simple-cycle, quick-start plant capable of generating up to 350 MW, the permitting documents show. The facility would include one General Electric 7HA.02 simple-cycle peaking combustion turbine, or a comparable unit. The turbine would have associated emissions control equipment; an evaporative inlet air cooling system; a tempering air fan system; a continuous emissions monitoring system; a natural gas pre-heater and compressor system; a generator step-up transformer; an auxiliary transformer; an auxiliary equipment cooling module; and an exhaust stack. The exhaust stack would be 220 feet tall.

The gross electrical output of the new CTG will vary from approximately 330 MW at higher ambient temperatures to approximately 365 MW at very low ambient temperatures. The facility is expected to operate during times of peak energy demand, for up to 4,380 hours per year and would run primarily on natural gas, with up to 1,440 hours per year on ULSD as the back-up fuel.

Natural gas would be delivered to the new facility via a new 3,590-foot pipeline entirely within the Freezer Road Site that would connect the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission Co. pipeline to a new gas compressor building to be constructed within the project site. ULSD would be transported to the facility by barge, using the same delivery practices for the existing Canal Generating Station. A new unloading pipe would be installed adjacent to the existing unloading line, and a new 4,000-foot pipeline would connect the combustion turbine to the ULSD storage tank and ULSD day tank.

The facility would interconnect with an existing 345-kV switchyard to the south that is owned and operated by NSTAR Electric Co. d/b/a Eversource Energy. For this interconnection, the company would construct a 4,225-foot, three-phase 345-kV overhead line from the facility to the switchyard. 

The facility would use a near-zero liquid discharge system. All liquid wastewater streams that cannot be recycled on site, such as turbine wash water, will be collected for off-site treatment and disposal. Air emissions control equipment would include Selective Catalytic Reduction and an oxidation catalyst system in modules downstream of the combustion turbine generator.

Notable is that NRG Canal 3 and the operator of the existing plant, NRG Canal LLC, are separate legal entities under NRG Energy. NRG Canal 3 would use certain existing facilities of NRG Canal LLC, including operations staff, permits, the facility site, chemical storage, natural gas supply, water supply and other facilities. The use of the site by Canal 3 will be under a lease agreement between NRG Canal LLC and Canal 3 and the use of the existing facilities and infrastructure will be documented in a shared facilities agreement. The services provided by personnel to operate Canal 3 will be done under an operations and maintenance agreement. All of these agreements will be negotiated on an arms-length basis so that Canal 3 has independent rights to own and operate the facility separate from NRG Canal LLC’s operations, and Canal 3 will compensate NRG Canal LLC for the use of its existing facilities, said the application. Canal 3 is not assuming any liabilities of NRG Canal LLC as a result of its use of the property.

The property has been used for power generation since the 1960s. The existing 1,120-MW Canal station occupies the western portion of the property. The existing station consists of two steam-electric generating units, served by a single 498-foot exhaust stack, several aboveground fuel oil storage tanks, NH3 storage tanks, and other appurtenant structures and infrastructure. Unit 1 is a Babcock & Wilcox boiler that fires No. 6 fuel oil as the sole operational fuel, with No. 2 fuel oil as a startup fuel. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1968. Unit 2 is a Babcock & Wilcox boiler that fires No. 6 fuel oil as the primary fuel, with natural gas as a backup fuel. Unit 2 began commercial operation in 1976. Although both units were originally constructed to run solely on No. 6 fuel oil, Unit 2 was modified in 1996 to allow firing of either No. 6 fuel oil or natural gas.

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.