Puget Sound Energy purchased a 270 MW natural gas-fired power plant in northwest Washington, near Ferndale, to help the utility meet its customers’ long-term electricity needs.
PSE bought the Whatcom County facility from Tenaska Washington Partners, L.P.
The Whatcom County facility employs combined-cycle, co-generation technology that can generate electricity first from its natural gas-fired turbines, and then from a steam-driven turbine drawing exhaust heat from the two gas-fired units. The two-stage process boosts operating efficiency, lowers fuel costs, and reduces air emissions.
Built in 1994, the power plant is adjacent to a Phillips 66 oil refinery about five miles west of Ferndale. Through 2011, PSE had purchased the plant’s power output from Tenaska. Market studies indicate that utility ownership of the facility will provide lower-cost power to PSE customers.
The acquisition is part of PSE’s ongoing efforts to procure the additional power supplies needed to serve customers. With the Ferndale transaction, PSE has obtained more than 2,100 MW of power-generating assets over the past 10 years.
The assets include PSE’s development of three large wind-power facilities and purchase of four other gas-fired co-generation power plants. The utility also has secured a significant amount of power supply in recent years under long-term purchased-power contracts with other energy producers.
The Ferndale transaction arose out of a competitive request for proposals process the utility initiated in 2011 to solicit outside power-supply offers.
Even with the power-supply acquisitions, PSE estimates it still needs approximately 160 MW of additional electric resources by the end of 2017 to meet customers’ wintertime peaks in power demand.
PSE owns three other natural gas-fired power plants in Whatcom County: the 147-MW Whitehorn Generating Station, the 167 MW Encogen Generating Station, and the 125 MW Sumas Generating Station.