Project Status: Licensed; In Compliance Phase.
Operational: July 24, 2003

The California Energy Commission approved this project's Application For Certification on December 6, 2000. The Commission monitors the power plant's construction, operation and eventual decommissioning through a compliance proceeding.

Key Dates

  • February 24, 1999 - Application for Certification (AFC) filed
  • June 9, 1999 - Commission accepts AFC as "data adequate."
  • December 6, 2000 - Commission approves Application for Certification.
  • July 24, 2003 - Power plant on line and producing power.

General Description of Project

The permitted Elk Hills Power (EHP) facility is a nominal 550-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired combined-cycle, cogeneration power generating plant located in western Kern County, west of Bakersfield, near the community of Tupman. EHP lies on a 12-acre site at the approximate center of the 74-square mile Elk Hills Oil and Gas Field. The 12-acre site is directly adjacent to the highly disturbed and developed 35R Gas Processing Facilities and the 35R Cogeneration Plant, both operated by Occidental of Elk Hills, Inc. (OEHI). The 74-square mile Elk Hills Oil and Gas Field is a fenced and secured area. The nearest residence is located more than 5 miles from EHP.

The plant is powered by two General Electric (GE) 7FA technology combustion turbine generators (CTGs). Exhaust gas from the CTGs is directed to two supplementary fired heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) for the generation of high-pressure, intermediate pressure, and low-pressure steam that drives the steam turbine generator (STG). Supplementary firing (duct burner firing) capability is provided in each HRSG to generate additional steam for peak power production. The EHPP facility utilizes Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems for the control of NOx emissions and oxidation catalysts for the control of CO and VOC emissions. Fuel for the CTGs and duct burners is exclusively natural gas. A mechanical draft cooling tower provides heat rejection for the steam cycle. The cooling tower is comprised of six cells and is equipped with high efficiency drift eliminators. One diesel-fired internal combustion engine is used to drive a fire water pump. EHP delivers electricity to the EHP 230kV switchyard, which then is transmitted via a generation tie line to the interconnection point at the PG&E Midway Substation. The 9.8-mile water supply pipeline extends from the plant site east to the West Kern Water District (WKWD) facilities near Tupman. In addition, a 4.4-mile wastewater disposal pipeline extends from the plant heading south generally paralleling Elk Hills Road, terminating at Class 1 injection wells.

In 2011, the project was modified to allow EHP to deliver useful cogenerated thermal energy to support natural gas processing facilities in the adjacent OEHI oil and gas processing facilities (referred to as the 35R Gas Processing Facilities). The Cogeneration portion of the project allows an overall improvement in efficiency of the combined operations by using thermal energy from EHP to replace the heating load that would otherwise be supplied by natural gas fired heaters at the adjacent, existing 35R Gas Processing Facilities.

The steam coming from EHP is not comingled with the existing OEHI steam and condensate system associated with the 35R Gas Processing Facilities. Blow down from the steam generator in the Heat Exchanger Facilities is recovered and sent to the EHP cooling tower, reducing EHP’s make-up water requirements. The Heat Exchanger Facilities will be used to transfer useful thermal energy from EHP to the steam system associated with the 35R Gas Processing Facilities. Pipelines carrying steam and boiler feed water extend from the Heat Exchanger Facilities to the existing steam and boiler feed water pipelines associated with the 35R Gas Processing Facilities that run on an existing north/south pipe rack located south of the 35R Cogeneration Plant.

By using steam generated in the EHP HRSGs, the power output of EHP steam turbines is reduced by 10 to 25 MW. In addition, providing thermal energy to the 35R Gas Processing Facilities reduces load at the EHP cooling tower and thereby reduces the overall water use by EHP.

Energy Commission Facility Certification Process

The California Energy Commission is the lead agency (for licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts and larger) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and has a certified regulatory program under CEQA. Under its certified program, the Energy Commission is exempt from having to prepare an environmental impact report. Its certified program, however, does require environmental analysis of the project, including an analysis of alternatives and mitigation measures to minimize any significant adverse effect the project may have on the environment.

For Questions about this Certification Proceeding Contact:

Mary Dyas
Compliance Project Manager
Siting, Transmission and Environmental Protection (STEP) Division
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-2000
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-628-5418

For Questions About Public Participation In Certification Proceedings Contact:

Public Advisor
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-12 Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-654-4489
Toll-Free in California: 1-800-822-6228

News Media Please Contact:

Media & Public Communications Office
Phone: 916-654-4989