PG&E Gateway natgas power unit off-line, back Feb 10

LOS ANGELES Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:27pm EST

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LOS ANGELES Jan 26 (Reuters) - The PG&E (PCG.N) 530-megawatt Gateway natural gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California, will be off-line until about Feb. 10 in what the utility on Monday called routine maintenance for a unit that recently went commercial.

The unit was taken off-line late Friday, Jan. 23, for work that is "part of a planned outage for normal post-operational maintenance," after it went operational January 4, said spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian of PG&E.

Sarkissian said the unit may return before Feb. 10.

Gateway is operated by San Francisco-based PG&E primary subsidiary Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Gateway was under construction by Mirant Corp and was to be called Contra Costa Unit 8 when Mirant sold the contracts, equipment and permits to PG&E in 2006. PG&E switched the plant from water-cooled to dry-cooling, which uses 97 percent less water than conventional natural gas power plants.

PG&E's taking over the unit that became Gateway was part of a larger settlement with Mirant related to overcharges of power sold during the 2000-2001 Western energy crisis.

PG&E "essentially built Gateway from the ground up," said Sarkissian.

Since going on-line for commercial operations January 4, Gateway has "run like a charm, and is slightly more fuel-efficient than anticipated," said Sarkissian.

Gateway makes enough power to serve about 400,000 northern and central California customers. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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