The California Energy Commission staff has published a preliminary analysis of NRG Energy’s amended application for a new, smaller power plant to replace the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad.
The "Preliminary Staff Assessment,” which addresses the project’s potential for environmental impacts and compliance with applicable laws and regulations, concludes that the revised project will not cause significant adverse impacts and will comply with all legal requirements if NRG Energy, the project owner, implements several mitigation measures and conditions during construction and operation.
The energy commission staff will hold public workshops on Jan. 12 and 13, 2015, to discuss the initial analysis and respond to comments. The preliminary staff assessment and meeting details are available on the Energy Commission's website. The commission staff have also asked that written comments on the analysis be submitted by Jan. 21, 2015.
NRG Energy originally proposed the Carlsbad Energy Center Project in September 2007. Located next to the Encina Power Station, the project was intended to allow three of the five Encina units to retire. The original proposal, however, did not include a commitment to tear down the existing plant, leaving open the possibility of two power plants on Carlsbad’s coast for the foreseeable future. The City of Carlsbad strongly opposed the project for these reasons, although the city does not have authority to approve or deny the project. The California Energy Commission approved the project on May 31, 2012. Following approval, NRG was not able to obtain a contract for power from the plant because its technology was not ideally suited to meet regional electricity system needs.
Last December, in the wake of San Onofre’s unanticipated closure, SDG&E, NRG Energy and the City of Carlsbad, entered into negotiations that would allow for the construction of an amended Carlsbad Energy Center Project.
In January of 2014, the Carlsbad City Council approved an agreement with NRG and SDG&E under which NRG would build a more environmentally friendly, lower profile power plant in Carlsbad in exchange for a guarantee that the old power plant be torn down and land along Carlsbad Boulevard freed up for uses more appropriate for the coast. Among the conditions in the agreement are:
NRG will amend its approved project, proposing a plant that is more environmentally friendly, lower profile and would run only during periods of peak demand – a “peaker” style power plant.
NRG will completely retire and tear down the old Encina Power Station at no cost to taxpayers and begin the process to redevelop the site.
To support the City of Carlsbad’s goal of returning its coastal land to non-industrial uses, SDG&E proposes to relocate its operations yard (“North Coast Service Center”) at NRG’s expense, pending regulatory approval, at no cost to taxpayers. SDG&E would then transfer ownership of the existing property to the city. If it is not possible to relocate the service center, NRG will pay the city $10 million.
NRG Energy filed an application for the Amended Carlsbad Energy Center Project with the Energy Commission in April 2014.
The Preliminary Staff Assessment published on Dec. 15 is the first of several steps leading to a final Energy Commission decision on the amended Carlsbad Energy Center Project. Following a review of all input, the Commission Staff will prepare a Final Staff Assessment. This document and information from other agencies, parties, and interested public will be considered by a Committee of two Energy Commissioners at public hearings to be held in the spring. The Commission anticipates reaching a decision on the Amended Carlsbad Energy Center Project in early summer.