- Massachusetts regulators have given the green light to NRG Energy’s proposed modernization efforts at the Canal Generating station in Sandwich, MA, including the addition of 333 MW of gas-fired power and a 1.5 MW ground-mounted solar array.
- The new gas-fired generating capacity would be located in the "SEMA/RI zone,” an area of the ISO New England grid that NRG says "is currently underserved."
- The Canal 3 unit would be a highly-efficient simple cycle gas turbine capable of starting and reaching full capacity in 10 minutes. According to local news site The Sandwich Enterprise, the project has been exempted from local zoning rules and there have been no local objections.
NRG officials say Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board's unanimous approval is among the final hurdles to moving forward with the gas plant modernization.
“This is a major step in moving forward with the project, after a permitting cycle that has lasted about two years," NRG spokesman David Gaier told the Enterprise in a statement. Construction of the plant could begin next year and the solar component is already generating electricity.
"This will be a peaking plant designed to promote grid reliability by operating mainly on days of peak demand (in very cold or very hot weather) or during system contingencies," NRG explained on the project website. While the company does not deal directly with ratepaters, it also said the new generation will likely lower wholesale capacity prices for the area, ultimately helping lower home bills.
The town of Sandwich, Mass., where the Canal modernization project is proposed, has backed the new gas plant due to the financial benefits.
NRG is major independent power producer, and earlier this year, President and CEO Mauricio Gutierrez made waves when he said the model is "now obsolete and unable to create value over the long term." The company lost almost $900 million in 2016, largely the result of lower power and gas prices.
Much of that problem has originated in Texas, however, where growing wind power, low gas and declining coal usage have caused issues for competitive generators.
This post has been updated to reflect that the solar portion of the plant is already generating electricity.