After five years of project development, permitting, contracting and construction, BELD’s Thomas A. Watson Generating Station commenced commercial operation in the ISO New England market system on June 23, 2009. The simple-cycle gas-fired plant was powered by the first two Rolls-Royce Trent 60 gas turbines built for the U.S. power generation market—known as Watson Units #1 and #2.
Both Watson Units are bid into the ISO New England market system daily and are dispatched based on their total price. During the plant’s first year of operation, Watson Unit #1 ran a total of 136 days, and Watson Unit #2 ran 133 days. BELD retains 30% of the output of both units, and the other 70% is under contract to seven other public entities.
BELD’s 30% ownership is equal to approximately 35 Megawatts (MW) of Braintree’s load. If the units are not running, BELD must purchase that power from another source to cover our load requirement. We now have a choice—generate it ourselves or purchase it, depending on which is less expensive.
The Watson units are already lowering costs for Braintree residents. BELD’s Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)—which is tied directly to our cost of buying electricity through the regional system—was reduced four times during the plant’s first year of operation.
One of the most modern and efficient plants in the country, the state-of-the-art Thomas A. Watson Generating Station was named one of the fourteen best power plants in the world in the January-February 2010 edition of Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide magazine.