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For Immediate Release: January 3, 2007
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield-Jones - 916-654-4989

California Energy Commission Approves Small Power
Plant Exemption for El Centro Repower Project

Sacramento - The California Energy Commission today voted to issue a Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE) for the proposed 128-megawatt (MW) El Centro Unit 3 power plant.

With the SPPE, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), which proposes to build and operate the repower project, may obtain local permits for the project based upon the environmental and engineering analyses in the Presiding Member's Proposed Decision for the Mitigated Negative Declaration and Final Initial Study, which was released December 20.

The IID filed a proposal May 19, 2006, to replace El Centro Unit 3's existing boiler with a combustion turbine and heat recovery steam generator. The repower project will increase the power plant's generating capacity by 84 MW, from 44 MW to 128 MW. Under California Public Research Code Section 25541, the Energy Commission may grant exemptions for changes to existing power plants that do not add more than 100 MW capacity if the modifications don't adversely affect the environment or energy resources. The SPPE is subject to local permitting processes.

The Unit 3 repower project will interconnect to the existing Southern California Gas Company high pressure gas metering station located on the El Centro Generating Station (ECGS) property, 485 East Villa Road, El Centro, Imperial County. The generator output from the Unit 3 Repower will be interconnected with the existing 92-kilovolt (kV) portion of the existing IID El Centro Switching Station, also located within the ECGS property. Most of the existing Unit 3 plant systems will continue to be used with only minor adjustments.

The IID expects construction of the repower project to take 20 months, starting in September 2007. El Centro Unit 3 is expected to start generating electricity for IID's customers by May 2009. IID estimates construction costs to be $73.5 million.

Since deregulation occurred in 1998, the Energy Commission has licensed or given small power plant exemptions to 60 power plants, totaling 23,549 MW. Thirty-six licensed power plants are in operation, producing 12,910 MW. Since Governor Schwarzenegger took office, 18 of these power plants, totaling 6,913 MW, have been approved. In addition, 15 power plant projects are active in the Energy Commission's review process, representing 4,552 MW. More information on Energy Commission power plant projects is available at: www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/all_projects.html

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