After Years in the Making, Glenarm Power Plant Is Officially Switched On

Published : Sunday, February 26, 2017 | 8:04 PM

Dozens of City staff, elected officials and community members gathered at the brand new Glenarm Power Plant Friday to witness the state of the art technology be switched on — a $137 million installation that took years to complete and was one of the largest and most complex capital improvements in Pasadena’s history.

“A project of this complexity and such a financial investment requires support of the community, it requires support of the elected officials, it requires support of other departments in the City and many regulatory agencies who worked with us with respect to permits and approvals to get this plan from revision to the reality today,” said Pasadena Water and Power General Manager Bawa Gucharan.

Pasadena Water and Power General Manager Bawa Gucharan.

This new technology, namely in the form of a state of the art engine called the Gas Turbine 5 (GT-5) now marks Pasadena as an energy trailblazer by helping to reduce the city’s fuel consumption and emissions, lower its carbon footprint and backstop the community’s power needs with a reliable alternative to renewable energy resources when needed.

“There’s much to say about constructing a facility that puts out the lowest emissions in its class. I commend the PWP [Pasadena Water and Power] project team for seeking technology that ensure Pasadena continues to be a leader in this ever changing climate of legislative demands,” said District 2 Councilmember and Municipal Services Committee Chair Margaret McAustin.

The complex project was originally anticipated to be completed in May, 2016. It saw its fair share of setbacks since its undertaking in 2014, notably issues with equipment testing that delayed completion, and subsequent cost overruns.

Despite these difficulties, City officials seem universally enthusiastic about the project’s benefits.

“This is vital as Pasadena is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions,” said McAustin.

The project is a key component of the 2009/2012 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that was adopted by city officials in 2009 as a blueprint for the Pasadena Department of Water and Power (PWP) to ensure “reliable, environmentally responsible electricity service, competitive rates and energy independence” through 2030.

Pasadena also set a goal to reduce its energy load by more than one percent annually.

“It’s one of the most aggressive energy efficiency goals in the state,” said McAustin.

The GT-5 provides a stable source of backup power that allows Pasadena Water and Power to integrate more renewable – but intermittent – energy such as solar and wind.

The turbine also offers a quick-start capability that can generate power within minutes as opposed to the 72-hour start up time needed for the old system.

“For some of us at PWP, it is a bittersweet moment,” said Gucharan about the G-5 taking the place of the now decommissioned B-3 steam unit powerplant that serviced Pasadena for 51 years.

The Glenarm Plant has had units in operation since 1906. Still in operation on the site are GT-1, 3 and 4.

“As you can imagine a project of this nature would take the staff to spend days and nights to overcome a lot of challenges that were not expected before, big personal sacrifices and to get the project to a successful completion is a big feat,” said Gucharan.

The Glenarm power plant sits on a 14-acre site in the southwestern portion of the City, at the end of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. The site consists of two groups of generating facilities bisected by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Gold Line tracks: the Glenarm Plant to the west of the Gold Line and the Broadway Plant to the east.

For more information about the project, visit


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