- NRG Energy plans to shutter three gas plants in California, continuing a trend of difficulties for fossil fuel generation in the state. According to Sierra Club, the facilities to be retired include the Etiwanda, Ormond Beach and Ellwood plants.
- An NRG official confirmed that its subsidiary GenOn has informed the California ISO of its intention to shut down the plants for economic reasons. The NRG subsidiary filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2017.
- Last year, California began considering whether energy storage could replace three gas plants on the Pacific Gas & Electric system, and NRG Energy's proposed Puente Gas Plant is in danger as Southern California Edison looks to preferred resources.
A spokesman for NRG said GenOn has announced it will close several plants "for economic reasons." The news follows an announcement last month that GenOn would sell its Hunterstown gas plant in Gettysburg, Pa., for $520 million.
Sierra Club officials point to a trend of gas plants not being built or retiring due to community opposition and the growth of clean energy. Campaign manager Evan Gillespie said NRG's decision is "more proof that clean energy is driving gas out of California."
"Given the trends, these plants won’t be the last to announce retirement in 2018," Gillespie predicted.
The Puente gas plant in Southern California Edison's territory has been a high profile example of the trend. The utility has filed a procurement plan that reduces requirements from 308 MW to 76 MW, and will also seek energy storage and clean energy alternatives as well.
With the shortfall more manageable, SCE has indicated it will show a "strong preference" for alternative energy resources. NRG Energy has asked the California Energy Commission to suspend its application for the proposed 262 MW Puente gas plant until a decision is made.
Meanwhile, California ISO had agreed to examine alternatives to the plant last summer after pressure from lawmakers. A Los Angeles Times report had suggested California was overbuilding natural gas plants, lending greater scrutiny from those overseeing utilities. Clean energy and green groups urged regulators and lawmakers to instead pivot to solar, efficiency and storage as a more cost-effective way to meet power needs and reduce emissions.