For Immediate Release: March 17, 1999
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989

Energy Commission Vote
Gives Sutter Power Project Environmental Clearance,
Pends Final Plant Approval
On Local Supervisors' Rezone Decision

Sacramento -- Setting out 165 different terms and conditions that must be met to ensure the project will not pose a threat to the environment, the California Energy Commission today—with a four-to-one vote—decided that a new 500–megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant in Sutter County would satisfy California's environmental laws and regulations.

Yet even with this environmental assurance, the Commission withheld a final go-ahead to construct the power plant until the Sutter County Board of Supervisors decides whether or not to rezone the project's proposed site from agricultural to industrial use. Without the supervisors' approval of this amendment to Sutter County's general land use plan, the Commission's decision will not allow certification of the power plant.

The County Board of Supervisors' vote to rezone the site of the proposed electric generation facility is scheduled for March 30, 1999. At a regularly–scheduled Business Meeting on April 14, 1999, the Energy Commission will likely take its final vote on the project, only approving the plant's construction and operation after reviewing the County's action to change the site to an industrial rather than agricultural purpose.

Calpine has proposed the Sutter Power Project be located adjacent to the company's existing Greenleaf Unit 1, approximately seven miles southwest of Yuba City, on South Township Road near the intersection with Best Road.

The Sutter Power Project Committee is comprised of Energy Commissioner Michal (spelled correctly) C. Moore, Presiding Member, and Chairman William J. Keese, Associate Member. In a prior Proposed Decision on the project, the Committee outlined two licensing conditions that needed to be met prior to Commission approval of the proposed plant. Of these, the Board of Supervisors' approval of the rezoning issue is still needed before the Commission votes on construction and operation of the Sutter Power Plant.

The Committee also required Calpine to gain U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to cross the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge in an existing easement with a 14.9-mile natural gas pipeline. In Februrary, the company received permission to do so.

The California Energy Commission is responsible for reviewing all thermal power plants 50 megawatts and larger. The Committee's Revised Proposed Decision reviewed the Sutter Power Project in 28 separate topics including environmental impacts, public health and safety, air quality, hazardous materials, environmental impacts, engineering design and need specified in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The decision is based on evidence presented after formal hearings.

The document upon which the Energy Commission voted today, the Revised Presiding Member's Proposed Decision, is available on the Energy Commission's Web Site at:

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