California takes steps to avoid power shortages, delays natgas plant retirements

Nov 8 (Reuters) – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) took a number of steps to avoid potential electricity shortages starting in 2021, including the delay of planned retirements for several natural gas-fired power plants in the state:

* The CPUC said in a statement on Thursday that its concern is to ensure safe and reliable electric service in a manner that keeps the power sector on a path to meet a state goal of procuring 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

* To meet that goal, the CPUC recommended the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) extend the once-through-cooling compliance deadlines for several gas plants currently slated to retire by Dec. 31, 2020.

* Once-through systems take water from nearby sources, like rivers or lakes or the ocean, circulate it through the power plant to absorb heat, and discharge the warmer water back to the source.

* Most new power plants do not use once-through cooling because they can disrupt local ecosystems. Instead they use closed-loop systems, which use less water, or dry systems, which use air for cooling.

* The plants the CPUC wants to keep in service for longer include AES Corp’s 332-megawatt (MW) Alamitos 3, 335-MW Alamitos 4 and 485-MW Alamitos 5 for up to three years, AES’ 226-MW Huntington Beach 2 for up to three years, AES’ 175-MW Redondo Beach 5, 175-MW Redondo Beach 6 and the 480-MW Redondo Beach 8 for up to two years, and GenOn’s 741-MW Ormond Beach 1 and 750-MW Ormond Beach 2 for up to one year. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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