Air Pollution Control Equipment Services, Gas

MID approves power plant for Modesto, Calif.

By TIM MORAN

MODESTO, Calif., Oct. 11, 2000, (The Modesto Bee)—The Modesto Irrigation District board of directors on Tuesday gave a green light to building a $60 million, 75- to 80-megawatt power plant in Modesto.

If the California Energy Commission approves, the plant will be adjacent to the Woodland Generation Station on Woodland Avenue near Highway 99.

The power plant is part of an MID strategy to shield customers from volatility in the power markets by locking in electricity costs over longer periods of time.

Power from the proposed plant would be used to meet peak demands on hot summer days and to sell electricity in the California market when the power is not needed locally.

In addition to the proposed new plant, the district is buying long-term contracts from independent power producers.

As part of the plant approval, district directors voted to add $300,000 to the budget to start applying for an energy commission license for the plant. That process includes an environmental review.

While the project would require buying $1 million in air pollution credits, Generation Manager Greg Salyer said the plant would actually be very clean because new technology has brought pollution levels from gas turbine generating plants down dramatically during the past two decades.

The McClure Generation Station, built 20 years ago, emits 42 parts per million of nitrogen oxide, Salyer said. The Woodland plant, built seven years ago, emits 3.5 parts per million, and the new plant would emit 2.5 parts per million.

Getting the license will take about a year. Directors expressed concern over whether the district will get caught in a delay at the Energy Commission because of the large number of applications for plant licenses.

The MID plant won’t be part of a fast-track process approved by the governor to try and head off a statewide power shortage next summer. But efforts at the state level to speed up the licensing process may help the MID project, said Roger Van Hoy, assistant general manager of electric resources.

“Clearly, it’s in everyone’s best interest to expedite it as quickly as possible,” said director Tom Van Groningen.

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