New Lodi Energy Plant to Help State Water Project Cut Emissions

A new natural gas energy plant dedicated in Lodi today will enable the State Water Project to substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The new, 296-megawatt Lodi Energy Center will allow the Department of Water Resources, which operates the SWP, to replace a portion of coal-generated electricity it currently uses with cleaner energy from the new plant.

Owned and operated by the non-profit Northern California Power Agency, the new state-of-the-art Lodi Energy Center is considered the most efficient power plant in Northern California. It cost $388 million to build and will cost $90 million to operate annually.

About two-thirds of the electricity generated by the new plant will go to NCPA members such as Silicon Valley Power, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Modesto Irrigation District and other municipal utilities in Northern California.

The rest will go to DWR to help replace power currently purchased from a coal-fired facility under a contract that expires in July 2013.

 “This action will reduce DWR’s greenhouse gas emissions, moving us closer to our goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020,” Veronica Hicks, chief of DWR’s Power and Risk Office, said in a statement. Energy supplied to DWR from this new plant will release 68% fewer emissions than the same amount of energy supplied through DWR’s coal contract, she said.

DWR uses electrical energy to move water through SWP, the largest state-run water and power system in the United States.  The project provides water to an estimated 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.  The project produces much of the energy is needs by generating electricity at Oroville Dam and its other hydroelectric facilities, but still must buy some electricity.

DWR is the largest of 13 project participants associated with the Lodi Energy Center.  DWR has contract rights to almost 100 megawatts, or 33.5% of the plant’s capacity.

The new facility will employ advanced emission control technology and has a fast-start capability allowing it to deliver about 200 megawatts of power capacity within just 30 minutes. The feature will help grid operators integrate into California’s electrical system intermittent, weather-dependent sources of renewable electricity generated by the sun and wind.  Fast-start capability also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent when compared to conventional units.

DWR’s contract for coal-fired energy will not be renewed after it expires in July, 2013. Since 1979, DWR has held a partial interest in Unit 4 of the Reid Gardner Power Station in Moapa, Nevada.  It supplied up to 235 megawatts of capacity to the SWP.

More on the Lodi plant is available here.