Glendale Water & Power looks to upgrade Grayson Power Plant

After a directive to "repower" the electricity-generating Grayson Power Plant, Glendale Water & Power officials on Monday presented the utility's commission with a long-awaited update on a proposal to upgrade the facility.

In 2015, City Council ordered the utility to draft plans to improve the plant by removing, rebuilding and replacing seven of the eight turbines there. Glendale Water & Power officials hope the revamp will result in a more reliable, affordable and sustainable facility.

"It is definitely the most expensive power in our portfolio because of its age and its unreliability," said Steve Zurn, the utility's general manager, during the meeting. "We turn that around and we get a new plant, we can use it a lot more ... and provide cheaper power for our ratepayers."

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An updated Grayson Power Plant would provide a degree of electric independence for Glendale, Zurn said, as more capacity translates into less energy transmission from outside sources and not having to pay the associated fees.

Although the 80 year-old units have served the city for decades, their current condition was compared to a Ford Pinto at the meeting.

"The more we run our units, the more they break. They're just old and tired," said Ramon Abueg, chief assistant general manager for electric and water operations for Glendale Water & Power.

At peak capacity, the Grayson Power Plan generates 238 megawatts. The proposed units would bring less than 50 megawatts of additional capacity.

Currently, only one unit is running because the utility is preparing the older turbines to handle peak loads during the summer. The decade-old unit No. 9 is today supplying 42 megawatts of power, with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, as well as other facilities, supplementing the rest.

While no definitive cost was given for the project during Monday's update, utility officials previously told council members it may be roughly $350 million.

Before finalizing the design, a draft Environmental Impact Report addressing noise, hazardous materials, greenhouse gases and other possible effects will be presented to the public and city officials for feedback.

The project, with an estimated completion date around 2021, will need council approval before moving ahead.

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Jeff Landa, jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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