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For Immediate Release: June 28, 2007
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield-Jones - 916-654-4989

Energy Commission Releases Preliminary Staff Assessment
of Panoche Energy Center Power Plant


Sacramento - A California Energy Commission Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA) released today concludes that the proposed Panoche Energy Center power plant could be licensed without causing significant environmental impacts.

The PSA serves as the staff's preliminary assessment of the environmental, engineering, and safety impacts of the proposed power plant project. After the 30-day comment period closes, the Energy Commission will respond to all comments and release its final staff assessment (FSA), at which time the FSA will be considered staff's testimony at evidentiary hearings to be held by the committee of two Commissioners reviewing this case. Commissioner Jeffrey Byron is the committee's presiding member, and Vice Chair James Boyd is the associate member. The committee will then issue a proposed decision based on the evidence at the hearings. The proposed decision will be presented to the full Energy Commission for a final decision.

The Panoche Energy Center is a proposed 400-megawatt, simple-cycle generating facility located on a 12.8-acre site within a 128-acre parcel about 12 miles southwest of Mendota in western Fresno County. The project will include four natural gas-fired combustion turbine generators.

Each technical area section of the PSA contains a discussion of impacts, staff's conclusions and recommendations, and, where appropriate, mitigation measures and conditions of certification. The PSA includes staff's assessments of:

  • The environmental setting of the proposal;
  • Impacts on public health and safety, and measures proposed to mitigate these impacts;
  • Environmental impacts and measures proposed to mitigate these impacts;
  • The engineering design of the proposed facility, and engineering measures proposed to ensure the project can be constructed and operated safely and reliably;
  • Project closure;
  • Project alternatives; and
  • Compliance of the project with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards during construction and operation.

In summary, this PSA finds that:

  • The project conforms to all laws, ordinances, regulations and standards.

  • With the proposed conditions of certification included in the various technical areas, the project's construction and operation impacts can be lessened to a level less than significant.

  • The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has determined that the project complies with the appropriate rules and requirements of the district and will not contribute to air quality degradation. The applicant has identified all required emissions reductions credits needed for operation of the proposed project.

  • Transmission system impacts and appropriate remedies have been fully identified at this point. When staff has the related evaluation by the California Independent System Operator, the additional information will be analyzed and discussed in the PSA.

Construction for the Panoche Energy Center is expected to begin in January 2008 after the Energy Commission issues the construction and operating license. Construction will continue through January 2009, and commissioning will begin in February 2009. The expected on-line date is summer 2009. The total cost of the power plant is expected to be more than $300 million. The PSA for the Panoche Energy Center is available on the Energy Commission's website:

http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/panoche/

Since deregulation occurred in 1998, the Energy Commission has licensed or given small power plant exemptions to 63 power plants, totaling 23,549 MW. Thirty-eight licensed power plants are in operation, producing 12,910 MW. Since Gov. Schwarzenegger took office, 18 of these power plants, totaling 6,913 MW, have been approved. In addition, 14 power plant projects are active in the Energy Commission's review process, representing 5,741 MW. More information about Energy Commission power plant projects is available at:

http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/all_projects.html.

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