California commission issues staff report on 700-MW Palmdale project

The final staff assessment (FSA), a major step in the California Energy Commission‘s review process, was filed Sept. 12 at the commission by its staff for the Palmdale Energy Project (PEP) petition to amend (PTA).

The PSA examines engineering, environmental, public health and safety aspects of the PEP project, based on the information provided by the applicant (Palmdale Energy LLC) and other sources available at the time the FSA was prepared.

When issuing a license, the Energy Commission is the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and its process is functionally equivalent to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). After a 30-day public comment period on the FSA, staff will provide its testimony to a committee of commissioners, which will be used in preparing the Presiding Members Proposed Decision (PMPD).

This FSA represents staff’s independent assessment of the project’s engineering design and its potential effects on the environment, the public’s health and safety, and whether the project conforms with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations and standards (LORS). This FSA is not the 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 LORS.

In the upcoming evidentiary hearings, the committee will consider the recommendations presented by staff, the petitioner, intervenors, governmental agencies, tribes, and the public prior to submitting its PMPD to the full commission. Following a public hearing(s), the full commission will make a final decision on the proposed modifications.

An original version of this project, called the Palmdale Hybrid Power Project (PHPP), was certified by the Energy Commission in 2011. The PHPP was originally licensed as a nominal 570-MW hybrid facility utilizing combined-cycle and solar trough technologies located in the city of Palmdale. The new project owner submitted a revised comprehensive PTA in July 2015, also requesting to rename the project Palmdale Energy Project (PEP).

The proposed site for the PEP is located in the northernmost portion of the city of Palmdale, approximately 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Construction of the proposed PEP would require permanent use of a 50-acre site for the power plant site, and an additional separate 20 acres for construction laydown and parking, located adjacent and north of the proposed power plant site. After completion of the project, the 20-acre parcel would be restored and re-vegetated, if necessary, and remain under the ownership of the city of Palmdale.

Features of the new version of the project include:

  • Replacement of the General Electric gas turbines with new Siemens SGT6-5000Fs to meet pending need for “Flexible Resources” to support integration of renewable energy
  • A new steam turbine
  • A new auxiliary boiler
  • Elimination of the solar components of the approved project
  • Elimination of brine concentrator/crystallizer systems
  • Replacement of the wet cooling towers with an air cooled condenser (ACC)
  • Relocation of the point where the 230-kV transmission line turns south to the generating facility from East Avenue M to a point approximately 1,800 feet further west on East Avenue M
  • Addition of three 230-kV transmission line towers along the south side of East Avenue M north of the project site and extension of the generation tie-line westerly approximately 1,800 feet along the south side of East Avenue M
  • Addition of waste stream consisting of combustion turbine inlet evaporative cooler blow down, water treatment system reject, and plant drains
  • Change in the water steam cycle chemistry control system from a phosphate based system to an all volatile system

The proposed PEP is designed to operate as a flexible capacity resource and have the ability to start up to two times per day. The expected annual capacity factor is expected to be between 40% and 60%. Expected availability of the PEP is expected to be in the range of 90% to 95%. To evaluate worst case air emissions the applicant analyzed three different operating profiles when quantifying emission estimates for the proposed operation of the PEP. The operating profiles vary in the amount of operational hours up to 8,000 hours per year, as well as the number of start-up and shutdown events.

The PEP consists of a 700-MW (nominal capacity of 654 MW) two-on-one natural gas-fired combined cycle station. Primary equipment for the facility would include two Siemens SGT6-5000F natural gas-fired CTGs rated at 220 MW each, two HRSG, one STG rated at 232 MW, and one auxiliary boiler to provide sealing steam, allowing startup of the steam turbine shortly after the gas turbines. The proposed project also includes the use of an air cooled condenser, a turbine inlet evaporative cooler for the CTGs, an operations building and auxiliary equipment. The tallest components of the project would be the two 160-foot tall, 22-foot diameter HRSG exhaust stacks.

The commission in June 2015 approved the ownership change for this project. Palmdale Energy LLC had requested a transfer of ownership from the city of Paimdale. Summit Power Group LLC controls Palmdale Energy.

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.