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For immediate release: September 24, 2001
Contact: Claudia Chandler: (916) 654-4989

Energy Commission Approves
Metcalf Power Plant in San Jose

Sacramento - By a 5 to 0 vote, the California Energy Commission today gave the Metcalf Energy Center final approval for construction and operation. The natural gas-fired, combined-cycle power plant project, proposed by Calpine Corporation and Bechtel Enterprises, Inc., is expected to cost approximately $400 million and create 25 permanent jobs.
The 600-megawatt power plant is approved for a 20-acre site located in San Jose at the southern base of Tulare Hill in northern Coyote Valley. The plant's electrical output will supply the needs of 600,000 homes.
Calpine and Bechtel Enterprises are scheduled to begin construction on the project this October with commercial operation expected to serve the summer load of 2003. This merchant plant will sell power in California's electricity market.

On June 18, 2001, the Energy Commission's Metcalf Energy Center Committee, comprised of Energy Commissioner Robert Laurie, Presiding Member, and Commission Chairman William J. Keese, Second Member, recommended the power plant for full-Commission approval. The Presiding Member's Proposed Decision and its August 24, 2001, Revised Presiding Member's Proposed Decision on the Metcalf Power Plant may be accessed on the Commission's web site at:


The Committee's approval of the Metcalf Energy Center license came after a rigorous, two and a half year-long review process in which the Commission actively sought public input on the proposal. More than 50 public workshops, hearings and conferences were held on the project in which members of the public, 18 formal “intervenors,” other governmental agencies, and community groups participated in the Energy Commission's review process.
In its 480-page Revised Presiding Member's Proposed Decision, the Committee reviewed all aspects of the proposal, including environmental impacts, public health and safety, air quality, hazardous materials, and engineering alternatives. Based on evidence presented at formal hearing, the Committee recommended the project for certification under the Warren-Alquist Act and the California Environmental Quality Act.
In its vote to license the Metcalf project, the Energy Commission exercised its override authority, an important part of the State's statutory scheme for ensuring against power shortages in locations where power is needed for reliability. The Commissioners agreed with the staff that the need for the project and benefits it will bring to the San Jose area outweigh its lack of compliance with local ordinances.
The Energy Commission exercises its override authority cautiously, preferring in most cases to work with local agencies to achieve consensus with local jurisdictions; 1981 was the only other time the Commission exercised its override authority. In that case, the issue was a transmission line from the Geysers 16 project that the County of Sonoma contended violated its general plan. The Energy Commission's override was upheld in subsequent court action.
The power plants permitted by the Energy Commission since 1999 will boost California's power supply by 10,982 megawatts by summer 2003. Nine simple-cycle power plants licensed this year will add 683 megawatts to the grid by year's end.

The Commission's web site provides complete information about the review of California power plant proposals at:

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