Edison Mission sees June start for its new California power plant

Fri May 10, 2013 7:07pm EDT

May 10 (Reuters) - Edison Mission Energy, a unit of California power company Edison International, said Friday its new 479-megawatt (MW) Walnut Creek natural gas-fired power plant in Southern California is expected to enter commercial service in June.

The plant is expected to add much needed electric capacity to the state's power grid, which is preparing for a second summer in a row without the two reactors at the giant San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Walnut Creek, which is located in the city of Industry about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, has put limited amounts of energy out on the state's power grid in test mode since January, a company spokesman told Reuters.

He said Edison Mission, which sought bankruptcy protection in December, will sell power from the plant under a 10-year purchase agreement to Southern California Edison (SCE).

SCE is another unit of Edison International that serves about 4.9 million customers in southern and central California.

Edison Mission said it started permitting the Walnut Creek project in 2005 and was a successful bidder in SCE's request for offers in 2008.

The two reactors at SCE's 2,150-MW San Onofre plant shut in January 2012 due to problems with their new steam generators.

SCE has proposed to restart the 1,070-MW Unit 2 and run it at less than full power for this summer, but that plan requires approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

SCE has said it may retire one or both reactors at San Onofre by the end of the year if the NRC denies its request to restart Unit 2.

Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric unit owns a stake in San Onofre.

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