California commission staff plans revamped Palmdale power plant

The California Energy Commission issued a preliminary staff assessment on the Palmdale Energy Project.

The assessment examines engineering, environmental, public health and safety aspects of the project, based on the information provided by applicant Palmdale Energy and other sources available at the time the assessment was prepared. After a 30-day public comment period on the assessment, staff will issue its testimony in the form of the final staff assessment.

In the evidentiary hearings, a committee of commission members will consider the recommendations presented by staff, the petitioner, intervenors, governmental agencies, tribes, and the public prior to submitting its Presiding Member’s Proposed Decision to the full commission. Following public hearing, the full commission will make a final decision on the proposed modifications.

This project, then called the Palmdale Hybrid Power Project, was originally licensed as a nominal 570 MW hybrid facility using combined-cycle and solar trough technologies located in the city of Palmdale and backed by the city itself. However, the power plant was not constructed.

The project owner submitted a revised comprehensive PTA on July 17, 2015, also requesting to rename the project the Palmdale Energy Project.

Construction of the proposed project 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.

The revamped project includes:

“-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 power components of the approved project;

“-Elimination of brine concentrator/crystallizer systems;

“-Replacement of the wet cooling towers with an ACC;

“-Reduction of the site from 333 acres to 50 acres;

“-Reorientation of the power block with the HRSG stacks now on the east and the combustion turbine inlets to the west;

“-Relocation of the point where the 230 kV transmission line turns south to the generating facility from East Avenue M to a point about 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 about 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; and

“-Possible change from a CO2 based fire suppression system for some components to an FM200 based system.

The PTA primarily proposes to eliminate the solar thermal component of the project, to change the combustion turbine generator technology, to change the cooling mechanism from water cooling to an air cooled condenser, and to remove the zero liquid discharge system, among other technical changes.

The proposed project is being designed with the capacity to operate under three different profiles. The proposed project would operate as a baseload power plant with an estimated operational ability of up to 8,000 hours per year, with a capacity factor of 60-80 percent.

In addition to the baseload operational profile, and in response to changing market conditions, the proposed project will have the capability to operate under two additional peaking or cycling type profiles.

The project consists of a 699.4 MW (net) (nominal capacity of 654 MW) two-on-one natural gas-fired combined cycle generating station. Primary equipment would include two Siemens SGT6-5000F natural gas-fired combustion turbine-generators rated at 220 MW each, two heat recovery steam generators, one steam turbine-generator rated at 232 MW, and one auxiliary boiler to provide sealing steam, allowing startup of the steam turbine shortly after the gas turbines.

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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.

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