California Energy Commission approves two plants

In the midst of the worst electricity crisis in state history, the California Energy Commission voted to license the proposed $300 million, 500 Mw Elk Hills and the $180 million, 320 Mw Sunrise power plants in western Kern County. Elk Hills is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2002 and the Sunrise peaking project should be ready to deliver power this coming summer.


In the midst of the worst electricity crisis in state history, the California Energy Commission voted to license the proposed $300 million, 500 Mw Elk Hills and the $180 million, 320 Mw Sunrise power plants in western Kern County.

The Elk Hills power project, to be built near the oil community of Tupman, about 25 miles west of Bakersfield, will be a combined cycle facility fueled by natural gas extracted from the local area. It is owned by Elk Hills LLC, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy Resources and Occidental Energy Ventures Corp.

A significant concern with the project had been the use of potable well water supplied by the West Kern Water District. But the energy commission found that, although the water may be considered potable, alternatives are limited and recycled water is unavailable at a reasonable cost.

The Elk Hills power project should take about 15 months to construct and should be on line for the summer of 2002.

Sunrise is the first peaking power plant to be licensed since the California Legislature passed AB970 designed to speed construction of temporary facilities and help abate the state's electricity crisis. The project should be on line in time to generate and deliver power for the summer of 2001 and 2002.

As a temporary peaking facility, the plant is licensed to operate until Dec. 31, 2002. At that time it must be shut down or converted to either a combined cycle or a cogeneration facility.

When the Sunrise plant began the licensing process in 1999, it was proposed as a cogeneration facility, intended to generate 320 Mw of electricity and to produce steam for use in the Midway-Sunset oil fields adjacent to its 20-acre site. It was to be owned by Sunrise Cogeneration and Power Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco Inc. That project faced challenges on issues such as air quality.

Ownership of the project changed to Edison Mission Energy, and this September the applicant amended the project to be a single cycle peaking power plant. Now, with its single-cycle peaker design, the plant will no longer be producing steam for the oil fields

The plan takes advantage of engineering and development work and environmental studies already done for the project near the oil field community of Derby Acres.

More in New Plants