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The Sentinel Energy Project, an 800-megawatt natural gas fueled power plant under construction in the Coachella Valley near Desert Hot Springs, is online three months early, private operator Competitive Power Ventures is reporting.

The plant, which can provide power for up to 640,000 homes in the Southern California region, replaces some of the 2,360 megawatt maximum capacity lost as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station situated on San Diego’s northern coast appears all but certain to remain out of commission at least through another summer.

Energy generated at Sentinel will be sold to Southern California Edison, San Onofre’s operator and supplier to electricity of about 14 million people. The long-term power purchase agreement commences in August, before that the plant’s power will be sold directly into the statewide grid.

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