New Geothermal Plant Begins Serving California Through One Nevada Transmission Line

The Don A. Campbell geothermal power plant—a 16-MW base load complex located in Mineral County, Nev.—began full capacity operation on Dec. 6, 2013.

The plant, named after the geologist who discovered the resource, is supplying electricity to Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) under a Power Purchase Agreement. SCPPA, in turn, resells the power to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Burbank Water and Power.

The plant is a binary geothermal power plant designed by Ormat Technologies Inc. The technology is based on the Organic Rankine Cycle. In the thermodynamic process, heat is transferred at constant pressure to an organic fluid with a boiling point lower than water. The vaporized secondary fluid is then expanded in a turbine that drives a generator. The method allows a low resource temperature—in this case, approximately 260F—to be used for utility scale electric power generation.

“Ormat’s holistic approach to geothermal development, matching power plant design to the specific characteristics of the geothermal resource through rigorous exploration and field development, allowed our team of experts to work together to develop this successful project,” said Yoram Bronicki, president and chief operating officer of Ormat.

From the start of mechanical construction to full power output, the power plant was completed in nine months. Transmission of the power to Southern California hinged on completion of the One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line) though. The 231-mile-long line—between Harry Allen Substation north of Las Vegas and the newly constructed Robinson Summit Substation located 20 miles west of Ely, Nev.—connects Nevada’s northern and southern transmission systems for the first time.

ON Line was the first transmission project to receive a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee back in 2011. It represents the first phase of the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), which when fully completed, will carry approximately 2 GW of electricity, and enable wind and solar resources in Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada to power the Southwest and California markets.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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