In the future, Lodians could cut get their power through a combination of intense heat and treated sewer water.
If approved, the plant will use 1.4 to 2.3 million gallons of water per day - roughly the amount in 100 swimming pools.
While it likely won't save residents from rising electric rates, the 255-megawatt power plant will establish greater reliability in case of skyrocketing power prices.
The Northern California Power Agency, a joint-action agency of power producers of which Lodi is a member, is considering the plant on five acres at White Slough Wastewater Treatment Plant property.
NCPA already has a steam turbine at White Slough that can produce 49 megawatts, but the high cost of operation leaves it idle most of the time.
The proposed plant would boast the latest in power generation equipment: A set of turbines that use both combustion and steam to produce electricity. Lodi could stand to receive 20 megawatts from the plant.
Lodi Councilman Larry Hansen is the city's representative on the NCPA board. He said he's "very excited" about the power plant idea, adding it "brings huge benefits to the city of Lodi."
Bryan Bertacchi, NCPA's assistant general manager for generation services, said the White Slough location "is by far the best site for all of members for a whole host of reasons."
If the project is approved by NCPA's members, Bertacchi said the proposal for the Lodi plant could be submitted to the state's energy commission in March or April.
The plant would use about 7,000 Btus of natural gas to produce a kilowatt of energy - that's 26 percent less than the NCPA's STIG plant which creates energy at 9,500 Btus.
Btus, or British thermal units, is the amount of heat it takes to make water increase by one degree in a controlled environment. One cubic foot of natural gas is about equal to 1,027 Btus.
By the numbers5: Number of acres a new plant would take up
9: Number of people it would take to operate
225: Number of mega-watts the plant could produce
2009: The year the plant could be operational
1.4 to 2.3 million: Water the plant will use daily, in gallons
- News-Sentinel staff
Bertacchi said the new plant uses similar technology of the STIG plant, but has an additional turbine that runs off steam produced by a combustion turbine. He described the combustion turbine as a large jet engine.
Last week, the council approved a "will serve" agreement with the NCPA to provide processed wastewater for the cooling systems of the plants turbines.
Hansen said while nothing has been formally decided, the project appears to have a number of benefits for Lodi including helping the city secure its power needs for the future.
"Everybody knows we're struggling to balance the budget, but we need to be forward thinking," Hansen said.
The plant would have a total price tag of $212 million. Lodi would have to cover about $1.2 million, according to the councilman, and he thinks the city may be able to use some of Lodi Electric Utility's bond revenue.
Mayor John Beckman also viewed the idea as a possible benefit for the city of Lodi.
"You look at a power rates now, and anything we can do to stabilize them would be beneficial," he said.
If approved by the California Energy Commission, the plant could be operational by 2009 and would be staffed by a crew of nine.
Hansen said he understands NCPA is looking at two 250-megawatt size projects, one of which being the proposal in Lodi, and another 500-megawatt project NCPA is being "pretty close-mouthed about."
When the matter does come before the NCPA's board, Hansen said he hopes the Lodi project gets the green light. That decision could come in January, he said.
Bertacchi told the council that in the wake of the Enron debacle and volatile energy prices the proposed plant could provide cheaper and reliable power for Lodi and other NCPA members.
Bertacchi said the White Slough location is ideal because the plant could be served by existing gas lines and pump energy into nearby transmission lines.
Preliminary plans call for Lodi to receive about 9 percent or 20 megawatts from the plants output. Roseville and Turlock could receive 50 megawatts each from the plant, and 15 could go to Bay Area Rapid Transit.
Contact reporter Andrew Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.