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Ultrasystems Signs Pacts to Develop 4 Power Plants

Times Staff Writer

Ultrasystems Inc. of Irvine has signed four joint-venture agreements with Combustion Engineering Inc. of Stamford, Conn., to develop, construct, own and operate two waste wood-fired power plants and two cogeneration power plants in California.

Ultrasystems, the primary contractor for the four plants, also is negotiating with several other firms to sell most of its 50% interest in the projects in order to lessen risks and reduce its cash investment, Philip J. Stevens, the company’s president, said. If the deals are successful, Ultrasystems would own 10% of each project.

The four plants will cost $208 million to build, Stevens said, and $191 million of that amount will be financed, raising the total cost to $269 million. As part of its services, he said, Ultrasystems arranged the site purchases, environmental permits and financing.

Construction on one of the waste-wood plants will begin this summer in Fresno, and work on the other three facilities is scheduled to begin in the fall. The other wood-fired plant will be in Rocklin, and the two coal-fired co-generation plants will be built on oil fields outside of Bakersfield. Steam produced by the Bakersfield plants will be injected into the ground to soften heavy oil for extraction, Stevens said.

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Southern California Edison Co. will purchase power from one of the Bakersfield plants, and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will purchase power from the other three plants under 30-year sales contracts, he said.

The plants were developed by Ultrapower Inc. and will be designed and built by Ultrasystems Engineers & Constructors Inc., both subsidiaries of Ultrasystems.

The plants, together with four other plants the company has built or is building in California, will produce a total of 185 megawatts of power to provide enough electricity for 171,000 homes.

“We believe we are the largest independent energy producer in the state,” Stevens said.

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The company also has built two wood-fired power plants in Maine and a North Dakota plant that turns barley into ethanol to be used to increase the octane content of gasoline. Government contracts for space- and defense-related computer systems account for about one-third of Ultrasystems’ business, Stevens added.


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