The California Department of Water Resources is procuring five 30-MW natural gas-fired generators by Oct. 31 to help compensate for a projected electricity shortage this summer.
The generators are being deployed to existing power plants in Roseville and Yuba City, and DWR is still in the process of finalizing the third location, Ryan Endean, acting deputy director of DWR's Public Affairs Office, told California Energy Markets in an Aug. 20 email.
DWR is assessing 40 power plant sites to determine if temporary generators will be needed at those locations, Ted Craddock, deputy director for DWR's State Water Project, said at an Aug. 17 California Energy Commission business meeting.
"[We will] procure these generators in rapid fashion," Craddock said. "These generators will be natural gas units that are hydrogen-capable in the future."
The natural gas generator projects could be approved through the CEC's new expedited review process, which the commission approved at the Aug. 17 meeting. Under direction from Gov. Gavin Newsom's July 30 emergency proclamation, the CEC's new review process will accelerate the commission's reviews of proposed natural gas generator projects that are 10 MW or larger. A proposed project must be able to supply power to the grid to meet net peak demand and be able to do so before Halloween.
The projects must be installed at a previously disturbed site; use natural gas as soon after construction as practicable; include a water supply source that meets the project's water requirements; and be able to connect to the grid through an available interconnection, the commission said in its order.
The CEC will post on its website all approvals of temporary power generators granted under Newsom's emergency proclamation, commission staff told CEM in an Aug. 19 email. Nearby residences will be informed about short-term temporary construction, staff said.
Dual-fuel engines that are capable of operating on diesel fuel as well as natural gas could be installed, CEC staff told CEM, adding that those projects could use diesel fuel initially, but only until necessary connections to convert to natural gas are completed. Renewable resources are not allowed, staff said, explaining that only gas-fired generators are allowed under the order because they are dispatchable at any time.
As part of the approved review process, the CEC will suspend requirements within the California Environmental Quality Act, a landmark environmental protection law in the state. CEQA was passed in 1970 and requires state and local government agencies to inform the public about the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects. CEQA also can require a project applicant to conduct a more detailed study called an environmental impact report.
California could need about 2,000 MW of additional energy resource capacity this summer to meet demand on hot days, and potentially 5,200 MW in September 2022, the CEC said earlier this month (see CEM No. 1654). The CEC, the California Public Utilities Commission and Newsom's office together have issued numerous emergency electricity orders, decisions and rulings related to projected capacity shortages.
The commission at its meeting also approved an expedited approval process for changes to the design, operation or performance of a power plant that would allow the plant to help reduce the state's energy shortfall by Oct. 31. Proposed changes must either increase the plant's power production or operating hours, or include new solar panels or battery storage equipment at the plant, the order says. A petition for changes to a CEC license for an existing facility is not required if the facility increases its power generation output or operating hours during the time when the California Independent System Operator has issued a grid-shortage warning or emergency notice, among other requirements.
The CEC in the order attributed the action to an "unprecedented climate emergency" that threatens the state's energy supply and limits the ability to import additional energy to meet summer electricity demand.