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For Immediate Release: March 29, 2006
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler - 916-654-4989

Energy Commission Forms Committee for
Imperial County Peaker Power Plant Proposal

Sacramento-The California Energy Commission today assigned two commissioners to lead the review of an application for a Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE) from the Imperial Irrigation District (IID).

The SPPE is for the proposed Niland Gas Turbine Plant, a 93-megawatt electrical "peak load" power facility.

Named were Commissioner James Boyd as presiding member and Chairman Joseph Desmond as second member.

Next step in the process will be an informational hearing and site visit to inform the public and other interested parties of project details and the Commission's process.

The plant, expected to cost $69.4 million, will be located on a 22-acre site owned by the IID near the town of Niland, about 117 miles from San Diego. It will be built next to the existing IID Niland Electrical Substation and will consist of two natural gas-fired combustion turbine generators and associated support facilities.

Since the project is not over 100 megawatts, the Energy Commission may exempt it under a small power plant exemption from its usual review process that can take up to a year. But the Commission must first find that the proposed plant will not create a substantial adverse impact on the environment, public health, or the transmission system.

If granted the SPPE, the Imperial Irrigation District will be responsible for obtaining all necessary local, state, and federal permits to build and operate the proposed facility. Local and state agencies will use the Energy Commission's exemption document when issuing their respective permits.

As a "peak load" plant, the Niland Gas Turbine Plant will provide electricity during "peak use" times, when there is not sufficient supply to meet demand, and will be required to operate a limited number of hours annually. The electricity will not be sold but will be used to augment the supply for IID electric customers, especially in the harsh summer months when air conditioning is important.

The IID is a community-owned utility providing irrigation water and electric power to nearly 125,000 customers in its 6,471-square-mile service area in Imperial County, and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties. The District has been experiencing a robust growth in load demand, especially in the Coachella Valley. Most of its power is imported from outside its service territory.

In its application for exemption, the IID said it has established a goal to increase internal energy production to 50 percent of the annual energy demand within its service territory. At the same time, IID also said it desires to increase the energy efficiency of its generation portfolio.

For more information on the Niland Gas Turbine Plant, click on the Energy Commission Web site at:


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