SACCWIS Recommends Extending Retirement Dates for OTC Facilities – Again

Published On: September 20, 2022

The Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS), which is composed of the CAISO, CCEC, and CPUC – filed a draft report to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) this week (9/20) recommending that the OTC facilities slated for retirement remain on-line for an additional 3 and 5 years. 

Specifically, the report recommends that the SWRCB allow three AES facilities, the 1,137 MW Alamitos, 1,491 MW Ormond Beach and 226 MW Huntington Beach facilities to stay online another three years, to the end of 2026. 

This would be the second three-year extension of these plants, with a combined capacity of 2,854 MW.  Originally, they were slated for closure in 2010.  SACCWIS did not propose keeping the fourth AES plant, the Redondo Beach plant, online for an additional three years.

SACCWIS also recommends keeping the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) 324 MW Scattergood units 1 and 2 online for an additional five years, moving the closure date from December 31, 2024, to the end of 2029.

To date, 16 power plants totaling nearly 18,000 megawatts (MW) in the CAISO balancing area have been shuttered or repowered with air cooling.  While the CEC has recently insisted, as has the Governor’s Office, that closing natural gas-fueled OTC units remains a goal of the state, the CPUC in its IRP and ongoing concerns about grid reliability has now, for the second time in 3 years, resulting in a call for those resources to stay online until the transition to a 100% clean grid is further along.

According to the report, the cost of keeping the natural gas-fueled plants online longer could be covered by part of the $3 billion allocated to keep existing fossil fuel power plants running in the newly created Strategic Reliability Plan (AB 205).  CDWR and the CEC are to manage this fund and contracting.

The “extensions would be responsive to concerns regarding grid reliability and would bolster the electrical power supply that is essential for the welfare of the residents of the State of California,” according to the State Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures’ proposal. 

SACCWIS cites the updated state energy reliability analysis that concluded that more intense heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and supply chain constraints, are driving the need for the coastal power plant extensions.  It highlights the finding that there could be a 10,000 MW shortage by the summer of 2025.

The water board will hold a public hearing on the draft plan’s proposed coastal plant extensions on September 30.

Report of the Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS): 2022 Special Report of the Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (ca.gov)

About the Author: Jesus Arredondo

Jesus Arredondo is an Energy Industry Analyst and former State of California official. He can be reached at jesus at govreport.org