The Scattergood Generating Station in Playa del Rey is set to undergo a major overhaul that officials say will help reduce ocean water cooling, decrease emissions and improve power reliability and integration with renewable energy.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) was joined by city elected officials and environmental leaders Aug. 29 in breaking ground on a $950 million repowering project at the Scattergood power plant. The 55-acre plant, located along the coast off Vista del Mar, has three existing units operating as conventional steam turbine generators that burn natural gas in boiler units to produce steam. Units 1 and 2 were built in the 1950s and Unit 3 began operation in 1974.
“The Scattergood Unit 3 Repowering Project promises a clean energy future for Los Angeles through improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and the protection of local marine habitats thanks to modern, new technology that does not require the use of ocean water cooling,” said DWP General Manager Ronald O. Nichols. “This project also provides significant economic benefits. Over the course of the construction schedule, Scattergood will support over 9,500 annual jobs, generate more than $2 billion in economic output, and over $189.3 million in tax revenue.”
DWP officials say the modernization of local power plants is a key element of the department’s major power supply transformation. Over the next five to 15 years, DWP plans to replace over 70 percent of existing power generation with major investments to modernize its infrastructure, meet renewable energy and energy efficiency goals and eliminate the use of coal power, a department spokesperson said.
DWP officials were joined at the groundbreaking by representatives of the state Air Resources Board, state Water Resources Control Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Energy Commission, the city of El Segundo, and Heal the Bay.
The repowering project will replace the plant’s existing Unit 3 with a more efficient combined cycle (natural gas and steam) turbine and two simple-cycle turbines, according to DWP.
The new generating units are expected to be 33 percent more fuel efficient than the existing Unit 3 and feature advanced pollution control systems, helping to reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouses gases, the department spokesperson said.
DWP officials also anticipate that the project will greatly reduce harmful impacts on marine habitat by replacing the current ocean cooling system at Unit 3 with an air-cooled condenser for the combined-cycle unit and an air-cooled heat exchanger for the smaller simple-cycle units.
Frances Spivy-Weber, vice chair of the state Water Resources Control Board, said her agency worked collaboratively with DWP in an effort to eliminate ocean cooling at DWP’s coastal power plants.
“The Scattergood Repowering Project demonstrates LADWP’s leadership in creating partnerships that can turn regulations and strategic planning into opportunities for water, power and wildlife resources,” Spivy-Weber said.
Along with repowering Scattergood Unit 3, DWP will lower the current capacity of Unit 1 to maintain the same total power output and meet air quality standards, said Aram Benyamin, senior assistant general manager for the power system.
“Today, we continue the massive transformation of our power supply by replacing 1970s-era power generation with efficient state-of-the art, advanced technology turbines that serve the dual function of increasing the plant’s reliability and supporting current and future generation of renewable energy,” Benyamin said.
Sarah Sikich, science and policy director of coastal resources for Heal the Bay, added, “The groundbreaking is a big step in the continued improvement of our valuable coastal resources in the Santa Monica Bay.”
Construction began in April and project completion is expected by December 2015.

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