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Almond Power Plant expansion proposed
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The California Energy Commission has started the review of a proposed "peaker" power plant near Ceres.

On May 11, the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) submitted an Application for Certification for a proposed addition to the existing Almond Power Plant south of Ceres. TID has a 4.6-acre parcel adjacent to the existing 48 megawatt (MW) TID Almond Power Plant located south of Service Road and west of the Ceres wastewater treatment plant.

If approved by the state, TID would begin construction in the third quarter of 2010, continuing for a year, with full-scale operation targeted for late 2011.

At a regular business meeting recently, the commission voted to accept the application of the gas-fired Almond 2 Power Plant Project as "data adequate," meaning that there is enough information to begin the discovery and analysis phase of the certification process.

The $7.6 million plant would be a natural-gas fired, simple-cycle peaking facility rated at a gross generating capacity of 174 megawatts (MW). General Electric would supply TID with three 58-MW LM6000PG turbines equipped with a water injection system to the turbine in order to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) formation, and a selective catalytic reduction system to further control NOx emissions.

The expansion will quadruple the plant's current output and reduce the district's need to purchase wholesale electricity, helping TID meet its resource adequacy and reserve needs in the future.

According to the California Energy Commission, the state's peak energy demands are growing at the rate of 2.4 percent each year. In 2007, California produced only 70 percent of the energy it consumed and the remainder was imported from other sources. The Almond plant expansion will add up to 150 megawatts (MW) to TID's 50-MW Almond Power Plant. One megawatt is enough electricity to power about 300 homes in summer and about 1,000 in winter.

"This important upgrade will allow TID to contribute to California's energy goals of building sufficient generation facilities and ensuring new generation plants can quickly come online when necessary," said Darryl Wilson, general manager of GE Energy's aeroderivative business.

Power will be transmitted to the grid at 115 kilovolts (kV) through two new transmission lines which will connect to the proposed Grayson Substation which will be located approximately 3,300 feet from the site. The substation is expected to be complete before the project is operational.

The plant addition would use the existing fire protection system, water treatment system, process water supply and wastewater discharge system, and demineralized and reverse osmosis water storage tanks. Like its existing counterpart, the second almond power plant will receive processed water from the Ceres wastewater treatment plant through an existing pipeline, as well as service water for domestic use provided by an existing onsite water well.

To get the required natural gas to burn in the turbines, PG&E will construct an 8-inch natural gas pipeline to their supply line several miles from the site.

The Energy Commission has scheduled a public site visit and informational hearing to discuss the proposed project at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 30 with a hearing at 5 p.m. at the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres. Prior to the Informational Hearing, members of the public are invited to join the committee on a tour of the proposed site. Transportation to and from the project site leaving from the Community Center. For reservations, contact the EnergyCommission's Public Adviser's Office at (916) 654-4489 or 800-822-6228 or e-mail: Reservations need to be made on or before July 23.

Since 1923, TID has been providing safe, low-cost and reliable electricity to a growing customer base that today numbers in excess of 98,000 home, farm, business, industrial and municipal accounts. It also serves more than 5,800 irrigation customers covering approximately 149,500 acres of farmland. TID's generation resources include large and small-scale hydro-electric power plants and three natural gas-fired turbine generating plants.