"Peaker" power picture positive

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Posted at 12:24 a.m. PST Thursday, Feb. 22, 2001


`Peaker' power picture positive

State officials are confident that they will secure enough mini-generators to avert summer blackouts. About a dozen potential sites for such plants are in the Bay Area.


California energy officials said Wednesday that they should have enough small emergency power plants to meet one of Gov. Gray Davis' goals for averting blackouts this summer. About a dozen potential sites for the plants are in the Bay Area.

The mini-plants -- dubbed ``peakers'' because they would be designed to operate primarily during periods of peak energy use -- would generate from 18 to 276 megawatts, with one megawatt sufficient to power 1,000 homes. Typical large generators are around 600 megawatts.

State officials say the plants are desperately needed because California, which has already experienced rolling blackouts on several days recently, is expected to be in even worse shape when hot weather hits.

To deal with such concerns, Davis announced a crash plan on Feb. 8 to boost the state's power-generating capabilities, partly by adding nearly 2,300 megawatts from peakers, many of which could be transported on flatbed trucks and hooked to the state's power grid relatively quickly.

While state officials previously had lined up enough peakers to provide 1,281 megawatts, some experts had voiced concerns two weeks ago that authorities might have trouble locating the additional 1,000 megawatts from peakers that Davis was seeking.

``However, it appears that there are enough combustion turbines with acceptable emission levels to meet the 1,000 MW goal by July 31,'' according to a report made public Wednesday by the California Energy Commission.

Of the plants for the 1,281 megawatts, seven are in the Bay Area -- two in Vacaville, one in Pleasanton, one in Livermore and three in Antioch. Officials did not provide more precise locations, but it appeared several generators would be clustered on the same property.

State officials said they are still reviewing possible locations for the plants that will provide the additional 1,000 megawatts. But of 32 sites judged good possibilities by the commission, eight were in the Bay Area.

While the commission report provided few details on these sites, it said some were in Santa Clara, Martinez and Benicia, as well in Monterey and Solano counties.

Among the criteria for locating the plants are their closeness to natural gas and existing high voltage transmission lines. The report also noted that two particularly good sites would be an electricity substation in south Fremont and at another substation in South San Jose near the proposed Metcalf Energy Center power plant.

It recommended those areas because of ``the high electricity load growth that has occurred in that area in recent years.''State officials haven't decided which types of generators will operate at the sites, although they are expected to be more polluting than most new large plants.

Contact Steve Johnson at sjohnson@sjmercury.com or (408) 920-5043.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), February 23, 2001


Seeing is believing. Swissrose.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), February 23, 2001.

This will certainly help the natural gas situation. I have a suspicion they're going to be running on low gas pressure.

-- David Williams (DAVIDWILL@prodigy.net), February 23, 2001.

Most of these peaking turbines run on natural gas or steam produced from natural gas. Those that don't probably are diesel powered. But the refineries need gas to produce the diesel fuel.

Catch 22???

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), February 23, 2001.

What happens when BPA can't run those hydros at wrap 10?

Is this included in the expected numbers? -- Some how I doubt it.

-- (perry@ofuzzy1.com), February 23, 2001.

wrap= warp

-- (perry@ofuzzy1.com), February 23, 2001.

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