NRG awaiting key approval for Oxnard Mandalay power plant replacement

By George Miller

After a two year battle with Oxnard government, various environmental and other activist groups, SoCal Edison and NRG, the proposed owner/operator, have received most of the key required approvals to move ahead with a new proposed state-of-the-art, hi-tech, low emission, CA-compliant, air-cooled gas turbine powered 262 megawatt peaker power plant at the site of their existing Mandalay plant..


Old plant (L), new one (R). Source: NRG

It is our understanding that NRG has offered to demolish and remove the existing Mandalay main plant, the Ormond Beach facility, all of the latter’s infrastructure and perform environmental restoration at the Ormond Beach site.

If started on schedule, the new plant would be on line by the end of 2020. The demolition and restoration dates are uncertain.

It is California state policy to favor so-called “renewable” power, which includes solar, wind, geothermal sources, over “non-renewable/fossil fuel sources. However, the unreliability and cost of renewable power at this time prompted a partial reliance upon non-renewable sources for at least several more decades. Hence the “Puente Project” for a local gas-fired power plant. The project name “Puente” suggests that it is a bridge to the future until such time as renewable projects will be adequate to do the job on their own. The existence of local infrastructure reportedly made the Mandalay site the most competitive contender. The proposed Calpine Santa Paula plant proposal would become unneeded and moot if this project was approved.

Oxnard passed an ordinance prohibiting the operation of coastal power plants of greater than 50 MW, proscribed them in its coastal plan and intends to do the same in the general plan. Their rationale is that the coast should be for recreation, that “climate change,” “sea rise” and tsunamis would endanger the plant, that it would be a health hazard and an eyesore. So far, regulatory agencies have disagreed. On the flip side, it would provide local jobs, tax revenues and a very nearby power source. Led by Mayor pro-tem Carmen Ramirez, the Oxnard City Council has foregone the opportunity to negotiate with NRG for a community benefits agreement, which might have provided additional amenities, other considerations for the community and maybe even mitigated some of the drawbacks.  They have already committed resources well into 6 figures for legal and other opposition activities.

The California Energy Commission, by law, has the last word on the decision, to help counteract NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) sentiment. It is ironic that some of the leaders opposing the project helped put the people in office who formulated such rules removing the rights of community self-determination. A July 17 hearing is scheduled on this, possibly to be followed by a final decision, after a lengthy due process period to adequately hear all stakeholders’ and “friend of the court” views.


California Energy Commission info:

Committee Overseeing This Case:

Janea Scott, Commissioner, Presiding Member

Karen Douglas, Commissioner, Associate Member

Hearing Officer: Raoul Renaud


Key Dates

Final (?) hearing:

Committee Conference (Closed Session) – Puente Power Project

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Energy Commission Committee (Committee) assigned to conduct proceedings on the Application for Certification (Application) on the Puente Power Project (Project) has scheduled a Committee Conference/Closed Session on:

Friday, July 15, 2016
10:00 a.m.

Third Floor Fishbowl Conference Room
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

(Parties and the public are advised not to travel to Sacramento as the public portion of the agenda will be brief – use the WebEx system instead.)
TELECONFERENCE OPTION: Parties and the public may attend the Public Workshop in person at the above location or by telephone and/or by computer via our “WebEx” web conferencing system. For additional details on how to participate via WebEx, please see the notice at:

WebEx and Conference Call-in-toll-free number: 1-866-469-3239
Please go to

Access code: 923 506 415
No Password Required


CPUC: Oxnard Power Plant Moves Forward and Santa Barbara

California regulators approve 262 MW Puente natural gas peaker

There are numerous articles on this issue in Google: “ Oxnard Mandalay power plant”

George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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