GE to scrap California power plant - GulfToday

GE to scrap California power plant


The plant of General Electric in Birr, Switzerland. Reuters

General Electric (GE) plans to demolish a large power plant it owns in California after only one-third of its useful life because the plant is no longer economically viable.

The 750-megawatt natural gas-fired plant, known as the Inland Empire Energy Center, uses two of GE’s H-Class turbines, developed last decade, before the company’s successor gas turbine, the flagship HA model, which uses different technology.

The closure illustrates stiff competition in the deregulated energy market as cheap wind and solar supply more electricity, squeezing out fossil fuels. Some utilities say they have no plans to build more fossil plants. It also highlights the Boston-based conglomerate’s stumble with its first H-Class turbine. The complex, steam-cooled H design is relatively slow to start, suffered technical problems and sold poorly, experts said.

“We have made the decision to shut down operation of the Inland Empire Power Plant, which has been operating below capacity for several years, effective at the end of 2019,” GE told Reuters. The plant “is powered by a legacy gas turbine technology and is uneconomical to support further.” GE declined to comment on whether it would take a charge for shutting the plant.

In a filing with the California Energy Commission on Thursday, GE said the plant is “not designed for the needs of the evolving California market, which requires fast-start capabilities to satisfy peak demand periods.”

GE’s newer HA turbine can power up more quickly than the H to match fluctuating supplies of wind and solar power, GE said. The large market for the H turbine that GE anticipated “did not develop and has resulted in an orphan technology installation at IEEC,” the filing said. It added that GE would no longer support or make replacement parts for the H turbine. Only one other plant uses H turbines, Baglan Bay in Wales.


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