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March 04

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Congratulations! We managed to pull off the most successful quarter in the history of Sempra Resources: Q1 was nothing short of “astounding”. Be proud of the numbers below…you’ve earned them and your spot at the top of the Sempra Fleet. In February alone, 98% of the CDWR contract was fulfilled from just two operating Facilities, Mesquite and Mexicali. 80% of this energy came from us.

March 2004

  • Production= 603,301 MWhr
  • Combined Average Equivalent Availability= 97.0%
  • Average Net Heat Rate= 7198 Btu/kWhr
  • Technical Availability= 100.06%

Q1 2004

  • Production= 1,799,677 MWhr
  • Combined Average Equivalent Availability= 97.4%
  • Average Net Heat Rate= 7295 Btu/kWhr
  • Technical Availability= 100.07%

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. We’ve had a few issues already this year that, at best, were a bit embarrassing. I don’t enjoy explaining to Sempra the reason why we trip ourselves offline, nor do I imagine any of you take pride in watching it happen… but the point to make and understand…is that we learn from our mistakes and move on. Learning from an error means that everyone understands why the event occurred and what can be done to eliminate the possibility of it ever happening in the future. Please take the time to read through the Trip Reports, ask questions of the affected Shift, and thoroughly understand the event. Don’t make assumptions when it comes to this. A repeat event is entirely unacceptable.

The gross cost of unit Trips this year have totaled more than $200,000, direct to the Mesquite budget. We are charged for the cost of replacement power that SER must purchase on the real-time market to replace our committed schedule. We must pay for the fuel to restart the equipment, and we will have costs associated with very high Heat Rate experienced during a restart period. Most significantly is the impact that a full load Trip has on both equipment life and our LTSA, equal to 8 starts plus 1 (the restart itself). As you know, our fee to GE is based on an hours/starts ratio. As this ratio number goes down due to an increased number of starts, our fee per MW is exponentially increased. Personally, I think the $1M + we pay them every month is quite enough already…

2004 Bonus

Though the intricacies have not yet been agreed upon, our 2004 Bonus Plan will pretty much mirror that of last year. There’s a new twist on Operations though. Equivalent Availability for Q3 (July, August, and September) will be weighted at the same rate but separately from the combined other three quarters. This means Q3 becomes our most precious operational period. “Hands off the throttles” and with the exception of reliability-based maintenance, we will not be performing any high-risk endeavors. This also makes the May Outage more important, ensuring we set ourselves up for a successful run through the summer months.


Many of you have heard of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. That's the one that states that the Universe is forever running down towards a "Heat Death". It’s generally based on the concept of Entropy, which itself has several definitions - the inability of a system to do work; a measure of the disorder in a system and the one most often used - the tendency of a system to create chaos from order. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m guessing only a few of you know about Merritt’s 4th Law of Thermodynamics that implies the opposite idea, that order and not chaos is the most probable state...call it “ectropy” if you will. Now that construction of this shiny new Facility is completed, most “Typical” Operators would have a tendency to simply let this place go. Relinquishing efforts to maintain, optimize, and improve the processes that are truly the source of our livelihood. The challenge to be different therefore, is the more difficult, yet more rewarding task of actually improving what has been built and was turned over to us.

Michael Paul has already mentioned the proper use of Spittoons at the site and as much as I love to be particular, I’ll refrain from mentioning a few other items that might stop you to think. Just try and consider what those expectations might be. We all share this facility as our place of work. I’d like to believe that all of us are proud of the fact that people look to us with great respect and admiration, both as an Operational Standard of Excellence and as a Community Leader. It only takes a small, continuous effort to keep the place looking like new. If the little items are addressed in this way, we can then focus on resolving “real” issues like…where do we build the patio and outdoor grill?  I know where we can get some cows…cheap.

Water Usage

Newsflash: we have a limited amount of water to use at this Facility each year and unfortunately, we can’t “roll over” the unused portion from the previous year. We need to get it out of the ground, clean it, and use it wisely. Mesquite was able to obtain a temporary stay with ADWR on the 15 cycles requirement, but naivety won’t get us through 2004 without regulatory oversight. The Clarifier process and silica levels of the towers need to be monitored and optimized for the best possible operation. Excessive blowdown based on assumption rather than data is not an example of Fine Power Plant Operation. We cannot afford penalties associated with non-compliance, nor can we afford to run out of water before the end of the year. Be conservative and be observant: don’t run the evap coolers when you don’t need to, control blowdown, slow down the fans when you can, and optimize the Clarifiers. Easily stated, I know, but it needs to be done.

Inventory Management/Warehouse

The next person who calls in an order and doesn’t write a Purchase Requisition for it, or asks anyone else to, will have the cost of the product deducted from their salary. Ok, perhaps we can’t do that exactly….but I hope you see my point. Regardless of your urgency to get an order in, we are confounding the situation by losing track of phoned-in orders. Should anyone have a better idea to improve this chronic problem, we’re here to listen.

The next person who removes inventory from our Warehouses and doesn’t properly record its withdrawal on a Work Order, will be hunted down and treated…same as above.  We have exposed ourselves to a serious oversight opportunity (aka. CORPORATE AUDIT). I don’t want to be in this position and neither do you.


Another tidbit regarding our 2004 Bonus…remember those Personal Qualification System books you were issued way back when? You might want to start thinking about getting them signed off. I’ll be sending out the targets when they become finalized, but go ahead and presume your PQS will be among them.

I’m expecting those of you who are System Owners can, at some time this year, present a short training course on your equipment. In addition, I have asked Tim Connor to begin training us in the Mysteries of Looking Up GE Parts. Any other suggestions for group training (Scheduling? Financial? Budget?) will also be considered. Those who have attended seminars and schools….let’s put together some lectures to present what you’ve learned.

Shift Operations

A copy of the 2004 Mesquite Power Annual Management Plan, as submitted to Sempra Energy Management, can now be found in the Control Room. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t share all this information in one location but you are free to read it in your spare time (which should fill up all of your available 10 minutes). There are specific themes in this document and I hope all of you have a good understanding when you’ve finished reading it.

We’re still on track for moving to a 4-person Shift on June 1st.  Michael Catania has started this week as a Temporary employee of Mesquite Power and we (hope) to have two more permanent employees before June 1st.  We’ll need to bring these people up to speed quickly and gain confidence in their abilities before the full effect of the 4-person crew can be realized. Trust me though…you’ll find this to be much better than the way things are done now….and I’m the skeptical one.

The Mesquite Operations Excellence Incentive Plan is officially effective April 1, 2004 . Steve Perrizo will be issuing the metrics soon but in summary, each Shift (A-D) will be graded on three factors: Heat Rate, Technical Availability, and PM completion. The award for April will be Harkins movie passes (two per winning Shift Team Member). The month of May will truncate to the 15th through the 31st. in accommodation of our Outage.  Admin will not be part of the April Plan but a metric to include them will be applied for subsequent months. The rotating off-Shift crew after June 1st will support their assigned Shift. Good luck on your efforts in these areas.

We’re also be planning a bar-b-que lunch this month at the site in recognition of… something.  I’ll make this in-lieu of a Team Buildingevent since we’re running out of time before the Outage.

Power Magazine/Industry Papers

Klamath Falls, Oregon, won the 2001 Power Magazine Plant of the Year award. They did this with a first year Equivalent Availability of just 75%. In their second year, they accomplished an 85% EAF. I tell you this because it doesn’t always take an astounding operational record to win this legendary recognition from theMagazine of the Industry.  I’ve written my 100-word nomination essay to reflect what I believe Mesquite Power is all about: the people who operate it. Regardless of how well it’s constructed, who our neighbors are, or how lofty the parent company goals, it takes dedication and enthusiasm to see through the daily task of operating this Facility. During our May outage, Ken Wicker from Power Magazine will be our guest to observe how we do our jobs: from daily operation, shutting down the units, accomplishing our maintenance and managing contractors, to restarting the entire Facility. He will be here to see firsthand, and write about, the people who are “Mesquite Power”. Everyone bring a smile J …and don’t forget to write your own 100-words.

I know a few of you are interested in presenting papers for upcoming seminars. Feel free to do so, but please include myself and Joe in a review process before you commit to your attendance.  

Desert Sun and the Buckeye Valley News were both out last month to tour the site. You can read Desert Sun’s article in this week’s (April 14) edition.

Next Month

We expect to start our nomination process for the ADOSH Voluntary Protection Program in May. Ches will be leading us through the ADOSH audits and we’ll receive assistance from SA&B Consultants wherever we can. A huge feather in our caps when this goal is reached.

RATA and Compliance testing will occur during the week of May 24th on Block 1.

Finally, the Outage will be from May 3rd through the 12th. If we can shave a day off on Block 2 restart because we work hard and deserve it….boy that would be something to celebrate. Expect many visitors from Sempra during this period.

Best Regards,



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