Calpine update on wildfires and effect on its geothermal operations at the Geysers

The cooling tower for the West Ford Flat power plant, Geysers/ California (source: commons/ wikimedia, Rtracey)
Alexander Richter 15 Sep 2015

Calpine Corporation has sent out a statement reporting on the damage caused by the recent wildfires to its geothermal plants at the Geysers in California, reporting severe damage to some ancillary structures but no damage to main power plants including turbines and generator sets.

In a statement this morning, Calpine provided an overview on the effect of the recent wildfire to its operations at the Geysers.

“Over the weekend, a wildfire designated as the Valley Fire spread to Calpine Corporation’s (NYSE: CPN) The Geysers geothermal power facilities in Lake and Sonoma Counties, California, affecting five of Calpine’s 14 power plants. All employees and contractors were safely evacuated and accounted for. We understand from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) that the fire is moving away from other power plants at The Geysers but is only minimally contained and could change direction. We continue to generate and deliver renewable electricity to the grid for our customers from our non-affected plants at The Geysers to the extent possible. We are coordinating closely with Cal Fire in the event further evacuation is needed from our operating plants, as employee safety is our top priority.

The fire inflicted substantial damage to the communities surrounding The Geysers. As a longtime member and supporter of these communities, we are heartbroken over the losses sustained by our employees, friends and neighbors and our thoughts and prayers are with them. For our affected employees, we are developing assistance programs to support our Geysers family through these difficult times. We also are working with local officials and community leaders to determine how best to provide assistance and support to the communities impacted by this fire to help them get back on their feet, with initial donations totaling $100,000 to local charities, including the American Red Cross, for community relief efforts. Finally, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the first responders who are working hard to contain the fire.

As to our affected facilities, ancillary structures (specifically, cooling towers, communication equipment and local power distribution lines) have been severely damaged. There is no known damage to any of the main power houses (including steam turbine and generator sets) at those sites. The fire also damaged some third-party transmission lines that transmit our power to the grid. Calpine’s insurance includes coverage for wildfire risks at The Geysers. Based on preliminary information, we expect such insurance will cover costs to repair or replace our damaged facilities as well as our net revenue losses, after applicable deductibles. We expect our delivery obligations under power sales agreements to be excused without further obligation by reason of force majeure until repairs are completed.

The Geysers is the largest geothermal complex in the world comprising approximately 45 square miles along the border of Sonoma and Lake Counties. Calpine owns and operates 14 power plants at the Geysers with a net operating capacity of approximately 725 megawatts.”

Source: Company release via Stockhouse