Press Release

New power plant in Modesto, California utilizes Wärtsilä gas engines to meet the state’s environmental targets

Wärtsilä Corporation, Local press release, 18 August 2011

The newly commissioned power plant located in Modesto, California, provides the community with the needed flexible, fast-start peaking generation to balance the expected increase in intermittent renewable generation resources. Modesto Irrigation District (MID) built the peaking plant to support their goal of meeting California’s mandated 33 percent  renewable energy in their generation portfolio by 2020.

The Woodland 3 Generation Project gas power plant was commissioned and handed over for commercial operation to MID, the electric utility serving the communities Modesto, Salida, Empire, Waterford, Mountain House and parts of Escalon, Oakdale, Ripon and Riverbank in July, 2011.

The 49.6 MW power plant has six generating sets, based on 20-cylinder Wärtsilä 34SG engines running on natural gas, which meet the stringent California state permit requirements. Wärtsilä was selected for this project because of the plant’s efficiency at part load, its fast-start flexibility and the low environmental impact.

"The modular nature of the Woodland 3 Plant allows MID to optimize the efficiency of our entire generation portfolio.  The ability to quickly dispatch any or all of the six Wärtsilä units anywhere from 4 to 49 MW, allows the District’s remaining generating portfolio to be operated in a more efficient manner. We are very impressed with the fuel efficiency of the new plant across the entire operating range. With MID actively moving toward the California mandated renewable portfolio standard of 33 percent renewables by the year 2020, the added flexibility is critical. The Wärtsilä units will be the backstop for MID, helping us maintain reliable, dependable service to our customers even with the substantial influx of non-traditional, intermittent resources like wind and solar," says Richard Smith, the Modesto Irrigation District’s Project Manager for the Woodland 3 Project.

A smart power generation solution
Wärtsilä’s flexible power plant features include the ability to reach full plant output in just five minutes, and to provide 25 percent power in two minutes. The concept represents a multi-unit solution with the highest simple cycle efficiency available in the industry. It offers constant performance and rapid response, regardless of the state of the grid and the ambient conditions. Importantly, the lifecycle costs of the Wärtsilä power plants are extremely competitive.

"This grid stability power plant project is an excellent example of Wärtsilä’s ability to provide smart power generation solutions. Wärtsilä’s natural gas fueled technology has the capability to operate efficiently at low loads; a capability that can be used for providing spinning reserve (operating reserve) for the system. This increases the value of the power plant. Additionally, Wärtsilä’s flexible power plants are able to supply all commercially traded ancillary services, including black start capabilities," says Mark Harrer, Business Development Manager, Wärtsilä Power Plants in North America.

Wärtsilä’s flexible power plants also allow customers to meet today’s increasingly stringent air quality requirements. Furthermore, by employing a closed loop cooling system, Wärtsilä’s engines do not consume process water or require significant wastewater treatment or disposal. This helps to address the growing concern over water supply in many areas of the USA.

Link: Wärtsilä gas power plants

For further information, please contact:


Mark Harrer
Business Development Manager
Wärtsilä Power Plants
Wärtsilä North America Inc
Tel: +1 281 233 6200
E-mail: [email protected]  

Amy Reynolds
Wärtsilä North America
Tel.+1 281 233 6228
Email: [email protected]

Modesto Irrigation District:
Melissa Williams
Public Affairs Specialist
Modesto Irrigation District
Tel: + 1 209 526 7390
Email: [email protected] 
About Wärtsilä
Wärtsilä is a global leader in complete lifecycle power solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising technological innovation and total efficiency, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2010, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 4.6 billion with more than 17,500 employees. The company has operations in 160 locations in 70 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki, Finland.