The NRG Etiwanda Generating Station in Rancho Cucamonga, which began operations in 1962, will be retired as of June 1. The NRG Ormond Beach Generating Station in Oxnard, which started operations in the early 1970s, will close on Oct. 1, and the NRG Ellwood Generating Station in Goleta will close on Jan. 1 after about 45 years of operations.People familiar with recent California electrical-generation history will recognize Etiwanda. That power plant was a key player in the 2000/2001 electricity crisis. Many plants were shut down for no particular reason, and despite the fact that it was very hard on the equipment, Texas traders ramped the turbines at places like Etiwanda up and down several times an hour in order to rig electricity prices statewide:
"They were basically ramping up as fast as they can, and then slamming the brakes on," said one of the operators. "They were increasing the fatigue on the units."
ISO officials say they changed market operations last fall to crack down on gaming tactics, including instituting a so-called 10-minute market, rather than the hourly market, so that it could be more easily detected when companies were withholding power.
But the ISO says generator outages have now become the primary tactic in driving up energy prices.
A computer analysis by The Chronicle of shutdown data over a recent 39-day period shows Reliant and three other generating companies topped the list of plant shutdowns. Reliant also represented the largest amount of wattage lost among those companies.
Plants owned by Reliant, AES, Mirant Corp. and Duke Energy Inc. accounted for more than half of the state's unplanned shutdowns, even though their generating capacity was no more than 25 percent of the state's total capacity from all sources.
Ah, corporate criminality! How we will miss thee!