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Energy commission looks at TID’s new power plant plans

Energy commission looks at TID’s new power plant plans

Above is an architectural rendering of the proposed Almond 2 Power Plant that will be located in Ceres.


POSTED August 4, 2009 10:23 p.m.
The Turlock Irrigation District began the long regulatory path towards improving Turlock’s electrical system on July 30 when the California Energy Commission conducted an informational hearing on the Almond 2 Power Plant Project and a bus tour of the proposed site.
If approved, the 174-megawatt clean natural gas fired, simple-cycle peaking electricity generating Almond 2 Power Plant would provide additional protection against power outages for TID customers.
“This generating facility is very important to us to meet our generation and reliability needs for our consumers,” said TID General Manager Larry Weis.
Sited on 4.6 acres adjacent to the existing 48 megawatt Almond 1 Power Plant on Crows Landing Road — 2 miles from the Ceres city center and five mile south of Modesto — Almond 2 is expected to assist TID with meeting balancing authority obligations.
As one of five balancing authorities in State of California, TID must ensure power generation is matched with loads. In order to guarantee sufficient reserve generation capacity to meet whatever demands may arise on the grid, TID must operate their existing generators below their maximum potential.
Almond 2 is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 57,000 tons per year by allowing other generators to operate at their most efficient levels. The development is also expected to help supplement the inconsistent wind power TID generates through its Tuolumne Wind Project.
Almond 2 would continue TID’s tradition of building infrastructure internally rather than relying on long-line transmission, Weis said. Two new 115 kV transmission lines would connect Almond 2 to the proposed TID Grayson Substation, which is to be located about a half mile away.
The Almond 2 plant would make use of three 58-megawatt General Electric LM6000PG turbines — the first of the newest generation of generators — equipped with a water injection system and selective catalytic reduction system to control emissions. The fast-start, clean natural gas burning units would allow TID to turn generators on and off quickly to meet demand, while offering enough excess capacity that only two of three generators would function at most times.
Cooling water for Almond 2 would be sourced from the Ceres Wastewater Treatment Plant through an existing pipeline to the Almond 1 Power Plant. PG&E would construct a new 8 to 11 mile natural gas pipeline, 8 inches in diameter, to convey natural gas to the facility.
California Energy Commissioner Julia Levin, presiding member of the committee overseeing TID’s case, took some issue with plans to open a new natural gas plant rather than a more green alternative as preferred by the CEC’s loading order preference. Levin questioned whether a biomass or biogas facility might be more appropriate to the region given the large amount of agriculture in the county.
“We do take this loading order very seriously,” Levin said. “Given the importance of addressing climate change … we do want to see the loading order followed.”
TID staff said they would be unable to source the biowaste to power such a facility as farmers prefer to reuse their clippings as fertilizer. Also, given nearby the Stanislaus Resource Recovery Center garbage burning center, TID considered itself unlikely to receive air district approval for such a plan. TID has already secured air credits for a natural gas plant.
Many members of the public spoke on behalf of TID’s efforts to help businesses reduce electricity use, including Amy Wolfe of G3 Enterprises, Martin Pohl, President of Hughson Nut Company, and Stanislaus County District 2 Supervisor Vito Chiesa. Chiesa also reiterated the need for the on-demand power generation that natural gas generators provide.
“We have to remember that wind doesn’t always blow and water doesn’t always fall,” Chiesa said.
The CEC will assess the plan for the Almond 2 Power Plant in a state-mandated 12-month review process. A decision on whether or not the plant will be allowed is required from the CEC by July 1, 2010.
However, given the current lack of funds at the state level, the CEC could be forced to exceed that deadline.
“We all anticipate an expeditious AFC (Application for Certification) in this case and hope everything goes along swimmingly, but we recognize the realities,” said CEC Hearing Officer Ken Celli
Project information and documents are available at http://www.energy.ca.gov/sittingcases/almond/
Written comments can be e-mailed to FMiller@energy.state.ca.us or sent to Felicia Miller, Project Manager, Siting, Transmission & Environmental Protection Division, California Energy Commission, 1516 Ninth Street, MS-15, Sacramento, CA, 95814. All comments must include the project name and docket number, “Almond 2 Power Plant Project, Docket 09-AFC-2.”
For further information, contact Public Advisor Elena Miller at (916) 654-4489.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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