The $452-million Lodi Energy Center (LEC) natural gas power plant project is progressing well and is on track for completion in June 2012, according to sources at the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA), a joint‐action agency serving public power entities in Northern and Central California.

The project, which is under construction on 4.4 acres of land in Lodi, will generate 280 megawatts of power once complete.

“We’ve experienced a few challenges with suppliers, but we are working around those,” said Ed Warner, project manager, NCPA. “We are 50 percent done with construction and over 70 percent complete with the overall project, and we are still on schedule and on budget.”

LEC will be a combined-cycle generating plant comprised of one natural gas-fired Siemens STGS-5000F combustion turbine-generator. The California Energy Commission and NCPA are working together on the project, though NCPA is constructing it and will own and operate the plant. ARB is the general contractor with WorleyParsons serving as detail engineer.

Designed to use “Flex Plant 30” rapid startup technology, LEC is expected to be one of the cleanest and most efficient power plants in the country. Flex Plant 30 allows earlier startup of the steam turbine by decoupling the gas turbine from the heat recovery steam generator, essentially reducing startup emissions, explained Ken Speer, assistant general manager, generation services, NCPA.

“It’s the first in U.S. of its kind,” he said. “It allows you to shut down and start the plant up very quickly – in under an hour,” Speer said.

When there is less demand for power, such as at 2 a.m. when winds tend to peak in this part of Northern California while demand simultaneously dwindles, the plant will physically shut down. In the later morning, as power demands begin to grow, the plant will quickly come back online.

“It provides flexibility that we think will be very valuable now and in the future,” said Speer. “That start-up speed also equates overall to a lower carbon footprint and fewer emissions, since the faster a plant can start-up the fewer the emissions generated.”

Ten of NCPA’s 17 members, as well as four other public power participants, joined forces in financing LEC and will share in the benefits it generates once complete.

“This is a larger plant than just our members could take on, so we have some other entities like the California Department of Water Resources involved as well,” said Speer. “Combining all these entities means our project partners are able to get the benefits of a larger plant they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Typically, each of these entities would have to build a small plant and it wouldn’t be as efficient.”