County of Orange Central Utility Plant Upgrade and Cogeneration Plant
Santa Ana, CA

In response to the 2001 rolling blackouts throughout California, the County of Orange adopted a resolution to study and upgrade the central plant functions of the Santa Ana Civic Center to reduce its dependence on the local utility power grid. Syska Hennessy Group completed a master plan that recommended the use of cogeneration to meet this goal. The footprint of the new building needed to be minimized due to limited real estate available for the expansion.

In addition to providing a more reliable source of power, the new 10.4 MW plant will save the County, roughly $1,000,000 per year in electric and gas utility cost after debt service. As the prime consultant on the project, Syska Hennessy Group is responsible for environmental permitting, engineering and start-up and commissioning.

Syska developed a schedule and phasing strategy to ensure minimum service interruptions to the surrounding facilities. Any necessary outages and interruptions in service were coordinated with the County. Additional management considerations included phasing plans to address traffic and pedestrian flow and facility safety plans.

The team is also extended the existing campus-wide 4.16kV electrical distribution system, replaced the 45+ year old existing steam main distribution line reconnecting all branch building services, and expanded the existing chilled water distribution system to serve two new County high-rise buildings. As part of the electrical distribution upgrade, the team conducted a relay coordination study to ensure proper placement of all protective equipment.

Syska was also contracted to provide post-construction operational support services with the goal of maintaining greater than 95% operational availability of the cogeneration plant for a period of up to three years post start-up. These support services will rely upon and continue to enhance SCADA system tools. The tools will be used to assist with the delivery of operations assistance, warranty management services, and maintenance management support services via remote access to the SCADA in support of maintaining plant availability above 95%. The tools track performance metrics including T/G unit and plant heat rate, thermal efficiency, thermal/electric load ratio, and parasitic electric load to assess the effectiveness of measures to improve plant efficiency and cost effectiveness.


5,000 sf
10.4 mW plant


2011 Combined Cycle Journal Award -