Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
Independent power producer Calpine has abandoned plans to build a new natural-gas plant in Southern California, swelling the ranks of recently canceled fossil fuel plants in the state.
The company withdrew its application for the Mission Rock plant in a letter to the California Energy Commission dated May 21. That decision ended a years-long conflict over the permitting of the plant, a 255-megawatt combustion turbine facility planned on the banks of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. The Native American Chumash people opposed the plant as a disruption to a river environment that they consider sacred.
The permitting battle also became a test case for new fossil fuel plant development as the Golden State moves toward its legislative goal of carbon-free electricity by 2045.
Mission Rock joins a string of recent gas plant cancellations in California. The state still relied on natural-gas generation for 34 percent of its electricity in 2017, but new gas construction there has become a rarity as market and policy headwinds intensify.
Calpine’s decision to walk away from the project comes a few weeks after SCE announced the battery plants it picked in place of the Puente gas plant. Calpine could have waited until those batteries were up and running, but it would still face headwinds from the local opposition that would ask regulators to rule the same way they did with Puente.
A handful of previously approved gas plants are working their way through construction to commercial operation. The elimination of Mission Rock, though, narrows the list of new gas plants seeking approval as California moves toward the legally mandated deadline of 2045 to remove carbon emissions from power production. The thinning pipeline and recent string of failed gas plant developments raise the possibility that California won’t build any more new plants.