NRG Energy, Inc., the largest independent power producer (IPP) in the United States, is proposing a comprehensive energy solution for southeastern Massachusetts that will modernize and upgrade NRG’s Canal Generating station. These projects are part of NRG’s continual efforts to upgrade its generating fleet with clean and efficient new technology.

The Canal modernization projects will include a state-of-the-art simple cycle combustion turbine for peaking service (Canal 3) and a ground-mounted solar farm (Edmund Freeman Solar Farm). These projects will leverage existing infrastructure and industrial space, improve the reliability of the regional electrical system, and help Massachusetts meet its sustainability goal of 1600 MW of solar facilities by 2020.

The Canal 3 project will primarily use clean natural gas to provide up to 333 megawatts of new generating capacity for the “SEMA/RI zone,” an area of the ISO New England grid that is currently underserved.

This will be a peaking plant designed to promote grid reliability by operating mainly on days of peak demand (in very cold or very hot weather) or during system contingencies (e.g. unexpected outages or major weather events). The Edmund Freeman Solar Farm will provide up to 1.5 MW of capacity from ground-mounted solar photovoltaic panels.

The new Canal 3 project will use a modern, high-efficiency gas turbine capable of starting and reaching full load in 10 minutes. The project will take advantage of existing infrastructure at the Canal Generating Station and will not require a new gas line, electrical substation or additional fuel storage tanks.

Based on the current schedule, Canal 3 construction will begin in June 2017 and the project will achieve commercial operation by the end of 2019. Electricity from the Freeman solar farm could be available by late 2016 or early 2017.