The NCPA CT1 Project consists of three 25MW combustion turbines, with two units collocated in Alameda and the remaining unit in Lodi. In today’s volatile energy landscape, this project provides necessary capacity to ensure that electric demand is met and the lights stay on. Crucial to that mission is the units’ ability to be fully online within ten minutes of when a start command is issued. This project has played an instrumental role as an important source of peak load and reserve capacity for NCPA’s local communities and districts. Whether it’s responding to power shutoffs, Flex Alerts, extreme heat waves, or other high demand events, the CT1 projects have supported the California grid and NCPA’s customers during extreme demand events for nearly 40 years.
NCPA staff work around the clock to keep the plants reliable and viable in a changing energy market. These units utilize novel water injection technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, innovative cooling techniques help promote plant efficiency and output during the hottest summer months—when Californians need it most.
The NCPA CT2 Project is collocated with the LEC project in the City of Lodi. The project consists of a 49.9 MW steam injected gas turbine, colloquially shortened to STIG.. A STIG cycle is an early, simplified alternative to a combined cycle that uses exhaust heat from the combustion turbine to create steam. That high energy steam is then reinjected into the gas turbine to create additional electrical power, augmenting the power already created by combustion alone. The STIG cycle is the best of both worlds between simple cycle generation like the CT1 projects and the high tech LEC combined cycle project; STIG has lower capital costs than a combined cycle plant, but significantly better efficiency and lower emissions than simple cycle combustion turbine plants.
To produce this steam, STIG uses recycled and treated waste water supplied from the neighboring City of Lodi White Slough Water Pollution Control Facility. This relationship between the City of Lodi and NCPA is symbiotic; the City needed a use for the recycled waste water, and NCPA needed a non-potable water supply to create steam for the STIG cycle. After thorough treatment, the water formally flushed down the sewer systems of Lodi helps reduce electric carbon emissions!
In 2012, NCPA opened the Lodi Energy Center (LEC), home to one of the cleanest and most efficient natural gas-fired power systems in the U.S. It was the first in the nation to take advantage of “fast-start” gas-turbine technology to reduce emissions and provide a rapid response to market and grid conditions. Fast-start technology gives LEC the ability to quickly respond to changes in grid demand, counterbalancing the variable nature of wind and solar energy.
The LEC is owned and operated by NCPA, a nonprofit public agency renowned for its commitment to innovation and environmental stewardship. Nine NCPA members and four other public entities share the benefits of its low-cost and reliable electricity production. The participants use the power to light homes, power businesses, transport water, irrigate fields, store data, and propel trains.
LEC uses what is known as the combined cycle process. This process takes the on-demand reliability of combustion turbine generation and dramatically increases the efficiency by reclaiming exhaust heat. Just like a car, the exhaust of LEC is extremely hot. Combined cycle systems capture this otherwise wasted heat energy as steam, and use that steam to create additional electricity. In LEC’s case, electrical output increases 50% through addition of the steam cycle. Californians benefit from the addition of the LEC to the state’s energy resource mix, as it promotes further investment in renewables, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and enhances grid reliability. The LEC is a critical part of California’s clean and reliable energy future.
The LEC sits on a 44-acre site adjacent to the White Slough Water Pollution Control Facility, which treats wastewater from the City of Lodi. The City needed to find a use for its wastewater, and the LEC provided a great solution— the ability to use the City of Lodi’s treated wastewater for power plant cooling and steam generation. This is consistent with a new trend in the public power sector; cities across the country are finding that wastewater treatment and electricity production make good neighbors. After a thorough treatment regime, the water formally flushed down the sewer systems of Lodi helps reduce electric carbon emissions!
In 2020, NCPA announced the LEC Hydrogen Project; a cutting-edge directive to lower carbon emissions even further while extending the life of this valuable asset. LEC is uniquely positioned to leverage the existing supply of recycled City of Lodi waste water, produce hydrogen from that water with renewable energy, and consume that hydrogen in LEC to reduce the plant’s carbon impact. This is possible because when burned, hydrogen releases no carbon byproducts. The LEC Hydrogen Project is another way NCPA is working to ensure clean, reliable power for all Californians.