Combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant approved in California

The California Energy Commission on May 31 approved the construction of a proposed $500 million, 558 MW natural gas power plant in Carlsbad in a 4-0 vote.

A committee for the CEC said the proposed plant will have no significant impacts on the environment and complies with all regulations except in the area of land use. However, the committee determined that the project’s benefits outweigh the land use impacts and lack of compliance with recently amended land use regulations and possible lack of compliance with the California Coastal Act, and recommended that the commission make override findings and approve the project despite the impacts and inconsistencies.

“The Carlsbad project will help ensure a reliable supply of electricity in San Diego by meeting a need identified by the California Independent System Operator,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas, who is the presiding member for the committee reviewing the Carlsbad project. “It will also reduce pollution by displacing electricity generated by other less efficient facilities, further California’s policy to avoid once-through cooling by facilitating retirement of the nearby Encina Power Station, and facilitate the integration of intermittent renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.”

The Carlsbad Energy Center Project is a combined-cycle natural gas-fired plant being proposed by Carlsbad Energy Center LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG). The project will be built on a portion of the existing Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, and existing steam boiler units 1, 2 and 3 will retire when the new project is operational.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2014 and be completed by summer 2016.

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