SCE, Thermo Ecotek Reach Accord That Will Add Much-Needed Power to California Grid

August 31, 2000

August 31, 2000

GRAND TERRACE, Calif., Aug. 31, 2000-In an effort to help alleviate the current electric generation shortfall that has plagued the state this summer, Southern California Edison (SCE) has reached an agreement with Thermo Ecotek that will allow the utility to lease and return to full operation a 120-megawatt gas-fired power plant that is currently idle.

The "standby" plant is expected to be fully operational by early September and will supply some much-needed power to the state's electrical grid at the most critical time-late summer-when consumer demand for electricity is typically greatest.

Formerly known as the Highgrove Generation Station, the plant was sold by SCE in 1998 to Thermo Ecotek, a division of Thermo Electron Corp. of Waltham, Mass., as part of California's restructuring of the electric utility industry.  Riverside Canal Power Co., a Thermo Ecotek subsidiary, operates the plant, which has the capacity to produce enough power to serve approximately 100,000 homes.

"We're trying to do everything we can to bring solutions to the power supply dilemma in California," said Stephen E. Frank, chairman, president and CEO of SCE, an Edison International company based in Rosemead, Calif., and one of the nation's largest electric utilities.  "That includes exhausting local alternatives, negotiating new agreements, and effectively managing every available generating asset that can benefit consumers."

Said John Miller, president, Power Resources Division of Thermo Ecotek, "We're pleased with this new agreement and to be working with SCE to help meet California's ever-growing power needs."

Built in the early 1950s, the plant was operated by Thermo Ecotek during the summer of 1999, and had been on standby status until earlier this month when SCE workers began preparing the plant's four units for operation. 

Under the agreement, SCE will operate and maintain the plant and bid generated power into the state electricity market through Oct. 31, 2000.  SCE has an option to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis until the end of the year. 

Additionally under the agreement, SCE has the option to lease and operate the plant from June 1, 2001, through Oct. 31, 2001.  With no new power plants scheduled to go online until late next year, California's electricity shortage on hot summer days is projected to continue through next summer.

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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving more than 11 million people in a 50,000-square-mile area within central, coastal and Southern California.