SHORTS CIRCUIT

By Published On: February 19, 2010

A GWF power plant in Tracy could be expanded under a proposed California Energy Commission decision announced Feb. 17. Under the tentative decision, the Tracy Combined Cycle Power Plant project would convert an existing 169 MW simple cycle power plant into a 314 MW combined cycle facility. If approved by the full Energy Commission, the plant could be up and running by June of 2012. Sempra Energy and Royal Bank of Scotland Feb. 15 agreed to sell the European and Asian operations of their RBS-Sempra Commodities joint venture to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for an expected $1.7 billion. J.P. Morgan will acquire RBS Sempra Commodities’ global metals and oil businesses and European natural gas and power businesses. RBS-Sempra Commodities will retain its North American natural gas and power businesses. Following the announcement of the deal, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its BBB+ corporate credit rating on Sempra Energy and the A corporate credit ratings on San Diego Gas & Electric and SoCal Gas. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power expects to transfer $147 million in proceeds from power sales to the city of Los Angeles general fund in the weeks ahead. The department earned the money in fiscal year 2008-09. It represents 39.5 percent of its net power operation revenue of $372.3 million last fiscal year. The money is to be transferred once the full city council adopts the required ordinance. A committee took up the transfer Feb. 16. LADWP interim general manager S. David Freeman said the department would transfer an additional $73 million to the city general fund in April for a total of $220 million. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to give PG&E more time to put in place physical security improvements at its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Under the federal plan, the utility would get an extra 15 months--until June 30, 2011--to carry out the security upgrades. The improvements are required under federal regulations to protect the nation’s nuclear plants against terrorism and sabotage, including cyber attacks. A major solar energy project planned in Imperial County advanced Feb. 12 when the California Energy Commission and Bureau of Land Management issued a joint staff assessment and draft environmental impact statement. The project by Stirling Energy Systems, slated to cover 6,500 acres of federal land, would make 750 MW of power when built out. It would use Dish Stirling engines powered by the reflection of the sun off of mirrors. The company has a power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric. Under the government agencies’ joint schedule, final approval could come in mid-September, in time for the company to break ground this year and qualify for a federal grant covering 30 percent of project costs. A settlement involving Mirant’s Contra Costa and Pittsburg power plants announced Feb. 18 requires the company to step up its monitoring of aquatic impacts and to complete consultation on impact mitigation with federal agencies. The settlement between the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, Kern County Water Agency, Mirant Delta, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is part of a web of complicated actions aimed at improving ecological conditions in the delta. The plants use water from the delta for cooling.

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