Governor fires up newest power plant |

Governor fires up newest power plant

FELLOWS, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Gray Davis fired up a power plant Wednesday in western Kern County in a ceremony marking the start of the state’s newest major generator in 13 years and the first step toward independence from out-of-state energy producers.

The 320-megawatt Sunrise Power Project, about 45 miles southwest of Bakersfield, will provide enough power for about 240,000 homes and will eventually produce 585 megawatts.

”We are taking control of our energy destiny,” Davis said in the control room of the natural gas-fired facility owned by Edison Mission Energy and Texaco.

Sunrise is the first of three new plants expected to be in operation in the next two weeks to provide a combined 1,300 megawatts to the state’s power grid. A megawatt is enough to run about 750 homes.

The owners of the $250 million plant could receive up to $1 million in bonuses for finishing the plant early – an incentive offered by the governor last year when electricity prices soared, utilities lost billions of dollars and blackouts hit the state.

Located amid oil wells in this arid, dusty county, Sunrise is the first generator in operation of the 16 power plants licensed under the Davis administration.

The 500-megawatt Sutter plant is expected to start Monday in Yuba City and a 560-megawatt plant in Pittsburg is scheduled to be running July 7.

Edison Mission Energy has signed a contract with the state to sell power from the Sunrise plant at about 6 cents per kilowatt hour over the life of the 10-year contract, company officials said.

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