Calpine's California natgas-fired plants begin commercial ops

Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:42pm EDT

HOUSTON, July 25 (Reuters) - Calpine's two new
natural gas-fired power plants in California will begin
commercial operation in a few days to replace lost nuclear
output and to help meet renewable energy goals, the company said
on Thursday. 
    Calpine, the largest independent power producer in
California, said its 429-megawatt Russell City Energy Center
near Hayward, and the 309-MW Los Esteros Critical Energy
Facility near San Jose will be completed in days, just ahead of
California's traditional summer peak demand period.  
    The California power grid expects about 2,000 MW of new
gas-fired generation to come online this year, according to the
California power market monitor's report.
    New generation will help bolster the state's power supply
following Edison International's decision to
decommission, rather than repair, the crippled San Onofre
nuclear station in Southern California. 
    As more wind and solar generation comes online to meet the
state's 33-percent renewable mandate by 2020, the grid agency is
looking at the need for back-up gas generation to maintain grid
reliability.   
    Calpine's more efficient power plants in the western United
States produced 17 percent more electricity in the second
quarter this year compared to 2012, due to the state's effort to
reduce carbon emissions from other older plants and lower output
from hydropower plants, Calpine President Thad Hill told
investors on a call on Thursday.
    Hill said he is encouraged by a number of regulatory
discussions now underway in California to boost new supply,
along with other state goals related to air emissions and water
use. 
    "We are encouraged by the dialogue and the level of dialogue
and the multiple venues," Hill said. "The devil will certainly
be in the details, but the trend of the dialogue is the right
way."
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