Calpine gets cold feet over proposed California gas plant
- Developers of the proposed 255 MW Mission Rock Energy Center have asked California regulators to suspend the gas plant's application, citing a lack of energy demand and changes to state policies as the primary factors.
- Southern California Edison recently published its request for offers (RFO) for local reliability projects in the Moorpark Subarea, and Calpine Corp. concluded it "does not appear to present an opportunity" for the proposed gas plant.
- Calpine's decision to pull the plug on Mission Rock would echo a recent trend of fossil fuel plants shuttering or being canceled in California.
The Mission Rock Energy Center was intended to address local reliability needs in the Moorpark subarea of the Big Creek/Ventura local reliability area. Calpine touted its black start capabilities and peaking capacity coupled with battery storage as part of its benefits.
But in the company's March 9 motion to suspend the application, Calpine said the energy policy landscape in California has been changing for some time.
"Since the Mission Rock Energy Center was proposed, California policies and programs relating to grid reliability—particularly local reliability and procurement— have been in transition," the company said.
While the Edison RFO did not look to gas plants like Mission Rock, Calpine said policy changes currently under
evaluation "may further shape markets." The company also said it remains unclear if transmission solutions and the RFO could make up for 2,000 MW of older generation slated for retirement,
The news is just the latest sign of the uncertainty of natural gas in California. Last year, an investigation by the Los Angeles Times suggested California was overbuilding natural gas plants, lending greater scrutiny from those overseeing utilities.
With that in mind, California stakeholders began considering whether energy storage could replace three gas plants on the Pacific Gas and Electric system. NRG Energy's proposed Puente Gas Plant is also in danger as SoCal Edison looks at preferred resources. California ISO had also agreed to examine alternatives to the plant last summer after pressure from lawmakers. To add to that, last week, news surfaced that NRG Energy plans to shutter three gas plants in the state, including the Etiwanda, Ormond Beach and Ellwood plants.
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