Leaders of California’s energy and environmental regulatory organizations joined to dedicate the Walnut Creek Energy Park in the city of Industry, California.
The new natural gas-fired plant began selling energy into the southern California electrical grid this spring and will begin full-scale commercial operation under a 10-year contract to sell power to Southern California Edison (SCE) in June.
Designed to help meet peak demand for electricity, the 479 MW project is able to produce enough energy to power 165,000 residential central air conditioning units in the Los Angeles Basin.
Walnut Creek serves as a quick response peaker that will generate electricity when customer demand is highest. It will likely run 20 to 40 percent of the time, most frequently during the summer months or when electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power ramps down.
Fueled by natural gas, the $500 million project is equipped with best available control technology for emissions. The site’s five General Electric (GE) LMS 100 gas turbines can start and ramp up to full power in 10 minutes. WCEP also replaces two, 52-year-old generating units in Huntington Beach that used ocean water for cooling before they were retired. WCEP uses reclaimed water for cooling.
Licensing and permitting of WCEP began in 2005, and the Public Utilities Commission approved a competitively-bid power sales contract with SCE for the project in 2008. Final approvals of construction and environmental permits were granted by the California Energy Commission and South Coast Air Quality Management District, and construction began in June 2011.
During peak construction, there were up to 400 workers on site, and an average of about 220 workers over the past year, most of them represented by regional building and construction trades. The project paid $22 million in sales taxes during construction and will pay nearly $7 million in annual property taxes.
As part of EME’s introduction to the community, Pizarro closed the dedication program by presenting a donation to Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Barbara Nakaoka to support the district’s Makerspace Lab program.
With the addition of Walnut Creek, EME now owns interests in or operates 10 power generating facilities in California, all of which are fueled by natural gas. EME’s net ownership of generating capacity in the state is 1,465 MW.