California commission takes input on NRG’s 262-MW Puente project

The California Energy Commission has issued for comment the Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA) for the 262-MW Puente Power Project’s (P3) Application for Certification (AFC).

The PSA contains the California Energy Commission staff’s preliminary engineering, environmental and public health and safety evaluation of the proposed project. 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, issued June 20, is a precursor to the Final Staff Assessment (FSA).

During the 45-day public comment period, staff will notice a public workshop. A workshop is tentatively scheduled for July 21 and July 22 in Oxnard, California. After the conclusion of the workshop and the 45-day public comment period, staff will then prepare its FSA. 

In April 2015, NRG Oxnard Energy Center LLC submitted an AFC to construct, own and operate the Puente Power Project (P3). The 262-MW project would be located on a three-acre portion of the 36-acre Mandalay Generating Station (MGS) at 393 North Harbor Boulevard, Oxnard, Ventura County. The proposed project would be comprised of one gas-fired combustion turbine generator (CTG), a 188-foot exhaust stack, and miscellaneous improvements necessary to either extend or reuse existing site structures and utilities.

The existing Mandalay Generating Station Units 1 and 2 will be decommissioned and, if P3 is built and becomes operational, the power blocks and exhaust structure will be demolished and removed. The existing MGS Unit 3 would continue to operate.

Commission staff concludes that with implementation of staff’s recommended mitigation measures described in the conditions of certification, the project will not cause a significant adverse impact to the environment, public health and safety, or to environmental justice communities, and will comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards. Staff has identified the need for additional mitigation for particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10) and sulfur dioxide (a precursor to PM10) emissions to reduce the project’s direct and cumulative air quality impacts to a less than significant level.

The project consists of:

  • A single General Electric (GE) Model 7HA.01 CTG, with a maximum 271 net MW capability, with a 262 net MW generating capacity, that would entail simple-cycle, fast-start peaking generation capability;
  • A 188-foot-tall exhaust stack, oriented in location towards the westerly (beach) side of the site;
  • Four 100-foot-tall poles carrying transmission line connections from the new powerblock to an existing 230-kV switchyard immediately to the east of P3 owned and operated by Southern California Edison (SCE); and
  • Extensions of existing water, storm drain, fire water loop, septic and gas lines to service the CTG and support buildings.

The P3 is proposed as a replacement project for the majority of power currently generated by the existing MGS, which serves the Moorpark subarea of the Big Creek/ Ventura local reliability area in the Greater Los Angeles basin. P3 would replace the 430 MW generating capacity of MGS Units 1 and 2 with a new, single 262 MW CTG.

MGS Units 1 and 2 are subject to the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Statewide Water Quality Control Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling, also referred to as the Once-Through Cooling (OTC) Policy. Irrespective of the proposed development of P3, pumping of ocean water for cooling MGS Units 1 and 2 must be reduced or eliminated as of the OTC Policy compliance date of Dec. 31, 2020. If P3 is approved and developed, MGS Units 1 and 2 would be retired by the completion of commissioning of P3. The decommissioned facilities and structures would be demolished to existing grade, and the existing 200-foot tall exhaust stack, and Units 1 and 2 boilers, turbines and other power block structures would be removed.

On May 26, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 20-year contract between Southern California Edison and NRG to provide electrical generating power from the P3.

On June 7, the Oxnard City Council voted 5-0 to approve an amendment to the city’s Oxnard General Plan to prohibit power generation facilities greater than 50 MW in areas subject to coastal hazards (which includes the MGS and P3 sites). Unless rescinded or otherwise reconsidered, the general plan amendment will become effective July 7. Energy Commission staff will address any inconsistencies between the P3 and local land use plans arising from approval of the general plan amendment in the Final Staff Assessment.

NRG Oxnard is a unit of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG).

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.