PGE’s ‘smart’ gas plant helps balance wind, solar

Cogeneration effort seeks to mitigate supply issues in renewables variability

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Portland General Electric Company recently announced that its Port Westward Unit 2 plant, a 220-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant located near Clatskanie, Ore., went into service on Dec. 30, 2014 and is now available to generate electricity for PGE customers. The new plant is a highly efficient facility designed for maximum flexibility to help meet real-time fluctuations in customer demand and integrate renewable resources.

“With the growing amount of variable renewable power coming online, this type of flexible resource is essential in helping us continue to provide reliable service to our customers in an increasingly complex environment,” said Jim Piro, PGE’s president and CEO.

The plant is comprised of 12 reciprocating engines supplied by Wärtsilä North America that are designed to be highly efficient, flexible and responsive. The 25,000-horsepower 50SG engines are the first of their size in the country to run entirely on natural gas.

“Port Westward Unit 2’s advanced technology and unique configuration allows PGE to ramp up the plant to full load in less than 10 minutes,” said Rick Tetzloff, PGE’s project manager for Port Westward Unit 2. “This flexibility allows us to adjust quickly when renewable energy — like wind and solar — rise and fall with natural variability. And it also means that on peak demand days, our customers benefit from increased reliability.”

Port Westward Unit 2 serves as an important component of the company’s diversified portfolio of energy resources, complementing the new 267-megawatt Tucannon River Wind Farm brought online on Dec. 15, 2014.

Fast-reacting capacity is needed to balance sudden fluctuations in the renewable energy supply in real-time. Wärtsilä’s power plants have an extensive track record of such operation in Kansas, Colorado and Texas. Smart Power Generation technology helps utilities reach their targets for renewable energy. Agile generation not only supports, but enables more wind and solar power.

The new plant is adjacent to PGE’s existing natural gas-fired Port Westward and Beaver plants in Columbia County, Ore. Construction, which began in May 2013, created more than 400 jobs. The plant was completed ahead of schedule and on budget under fixed-price contracts, with final construction costs expected to be approximately $300 million, excluding AFDC.

PGE’s latest large-scale wind project went online in Washington State in December. The Tucannon River Wind farm consists of 116 wind turbines with capacity of 267 megawatts. The new wind farm helped PGE meet the 2015 goal for Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for PGE to supply 15 percent of the electricity used by its customers from qualified renewable resources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025.

Completion of Port Westward Unit 2 is a significant milestone in the implementation of PGE’s 2009 Integrated Resource Plan. The plan was acknowledged by the Oregon Public Utility Commission in November 2010. Port Westward Unit 2 was PGE’s benchmark proposal in a competitive bidding process conducted pursuant to guidelines established by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, using objective scoring criteria intended to identify projects that provide the best balance of cost and risk while meeting PGE customers’ needs for reliable, affordable electric power.  

 — Source: Portland General Electric; Wärtsilä Corporation