California commission staff backs construction delay for 645-MW Palmdale project

The California Energy Commission staff in a June 16 memo recommended that the commission approve a May 18 application from Palmdale Energy LLC to extend the deadline to commence construction for approximately nine months, from Aug. 10, 2016, to June 1, 2017, for the gas-fired Palmdale Energy Project (PEP).

An existing Petition to Amend (PTA), submitted in July 2015, proposes to update the PEP’s technology and design. The project was licensed in 2011 by the city of Palmdale as a nominal 570-MW hybrid facility utilizing combined-cycle and solar trough technologies. That project was never constructed.

The currently-proposed PEP is a natural gas-fired, air-cooled, combined-cycle, 645-MW (net) facility, located within the footprint of the original project, in the northernmost portion of the city of Palmdale, approximately 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Staff intends to recommend approval of the petition to extend at the July 13 Business Meeting of the Energy Commission. It will take comment for 14 days beyond June 16 on that intent.

Palmdale Energy needs the extension of the deadline to commence construction for the sole purpose of allowing the Energy Commission sufficient time to issue a final decision on the July 2015 Petition to Amend. The Energy Commission adopted an order approving a transfer of ownership from the city of Palmdale to Palmdale Energy at the Energy Commission business meeting held on June 10, 2015.

The proposed PEP consists of a 700 megawatt (nominal capacity of 654 MW’s) two-on-one natural gas-fired combined cycle generating station, to be built on a smaller footprint within the area of the original project. Primary equipment includes two Siemens SGT6-5000F natural gas-fired combustion turbinegenerators (CTGs) rated at 220 MW each, two heat recovery steam generators, one steam turbine-generator rated at 232 MW, and one auxiliary boiler. The proposed project also includes the use of an Air Cooled Condenser, a turbine inlet evaporative cooler for the CTG’s, an operations building and auxiliary equipment.

The June 16 staff memo said: “Staff reviewed the petition filed by Palmdale Energy, LLC on May 18, 2016 requesting an approximately 9-month extension of the construction deadline, and concludes that the project owner has demonstrated the requisite good cause justifying an extension to the deadline to commence construction. Has the project owner been diligent in seeking to begin construction and in seeking the extension? Since acquiring this project in 2015, the current owner, Palmdale Energy, LLC has been working with its consultants and engineers to submit this project for review through the PTA and has been working with staff towards reaching a decision. Palmdale Energy, LLC personnel has met with staff on a number of occasions to work through outstanding issues to bring this efficient combined cycle project to market that would provide multiple operating profiles, and help bolster the local economy. Since acquiring the project, Palmdale Energy, LLC, has worked diligently to develop the project as proposed in the 2015 PTA. The requested extension of 9 months is not excessive and appears to be a reasonable amount of time to allow for the Energy Commission to issue a Final Decision on the PEP.”

On June 15, Palmdale Energy filed a status update with the commission about progress made on various aspects of the project, including:

  • Revised Preliminary Determination of Compliance – The Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District published its Revised Preliminary Determination of Compliance on May 13. The public comment period closed on June 13, and the only comment letter Palmdale Energy has received was from the U.S. EPA. Palmdale Energy said it will work with the district to address U.S. EPA’s comments. Palmdale Energy expects the Final Determination of Compliance to be published by the district within the next two weeks.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Works – Palmdale Energy said it had a productive meeting with representatives of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LACPW) to discuss the areas of the transmission line that would cross county roadways and therefore would be subject to the requirement for a franchise agreement. Since that meeting, Palmdale Energy has prepared a map showing the potential transmission line crossings that would be subject to a franchise agreement and has sent the map to LACPW for review. Once LACPW confirms the crossings, PEP will propose and file a condition of certification in sufficient time for Energy Commission staff to consider it and incorporate it into its Final Staff Assessment.
  • Air Cooled Condenser – Palmdale Energy obtained sufficient information about the Air Cooled Condenser’s (ACC) operating characteristics that it was able to prepare a report analyzing the potential thermal plumes that may be generated from it. The results of the analysis indicate that the condition of certifications contained in the PSA, with which Palmdale Energy agrees, will mitigate any potential impacts from the ACC to air traffic.
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.