Two 3-megawatt Jenbacher natural gas engines power the new High Sierra Cogeneration Power Plant.
Final testing and commissioning of Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperativeís High Sierra Cogeneration Power Plant at the High Desert State Prison and California Correctional Center, east of Susanville, was completed in March.
Completion of the power plant is a step toward independence from the volatile and expensive California power market for PSREC members. The 6-megawatt High Sierra Cogeneration installation will supply up to 20 percent of PSREC's energy needs and is PSREC's first solely-owned electrical generation venture.
In addition, the facility will reduce transmission losses, provide voltage support, allow for additional load growth, and increase the stability and reliability of PSRE'ís entire system.
PSREC's High Sierra Cogeneration installation is the first utility-owned cogeneration facility in California.
PSREC gets most of its power from the California power market. PSREC's primary point of connection to the power grid is in Quincy, where Pacific Gas and Electric delivers power from the California Independent System Operator to the PSREC system.
The PG&E system is in rough terrain and subject to outages. The PSREC system is 120 miles long, with a significant portion of its load at the end of the lines.
That configuration strained the system and could have prevented additional growth, which would have resulted in higher rates without the High Sierra Cogeneration facility.
PSREC worked with EMCOR Energy Services to design and build the project. Construction began in January 2009. The expertise of local contractors, such as Joy Engineering, Kunsman Fence, White Cap Ready Mix, Cretecraft Construction, Millerís Custom Work, Almanor Energy, NST Engineering and Pee Wee Enterprises, was also employed for this project.
In addition to the revenue the contractors and their crews spent at Susanville businesses while on the job, the project has continuing economic benefits for the entire region. Lassen County will see an increased tax base from the facility.
The new facility consists of two 3-MW natural gas engines and is a cogeneration system, because it generates electricity and uses otherwise wasted heat from the engines to supply hot water to the CCC and High Desert prisons, replacing older, less efficient boilers.
By taking advantage of the excess thermal energy to heat the domestic water supplies for the institutions, the combined heat and power facility is not only more efficient, but also provides overall reductions in local greenhouse gas emissions.
That allows PSREC to receive credit for the emissions reductions, which will help reduce the cost of compliance with pending state and federal climate change regulations.
The High Sierra Cogeneration Power Plant is not PSREC's first groundbreaking endeavor. PSREC is the smallest transmission utility in the United States serving between control areas. With its Marble Substation, it can switch from the PG&E system to the Sierra Pacific Power Company system during outages, and import power from less expensive markets to the east.
PSREC has reliably delivered electricity to northeastern California since 1937. It prides itself on being an innovative provider of electric and telecommunication services; and an active member of the communities it serves.
The High Sierra Cogeneration facility is part of its continuing efforts to prepare for the future, while providing dependable and affordable electricity to its members.
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