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For Immediate Release: July 25, 2007
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield-Jones - 916-654-4989

Energy Commission Releases Preliminary Staff Assessment
Of Starwood Power Project

Sacramento - A California Energy Commission staff report released today concludes that the proposed Starwood Power Project could be licensed without causing significant environmental impacts.

The preliminary staff assessment (PSA) serves as the staff's evaluation of the environmental, engineering, and public health 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 its release, 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 Commissioner John Geesman is the associate member. The committee will then issue a proposed decision based on evidence presented at the hearings. The proposed decision will be presented to the full Energy Commission for a final decision.

The Starwood Power Project is a proposed 120-megawatt, simple-cycle (peaker) generating plant that would be located on a 5.6-acre parcel within a 128-acre parcel at 43627 W. Panoche Road, 15 miles southwest of Mendota in western Fresno County. The project is being proposed in response to being selected by Pacific Gas and Electric Company to receive a power purchase agreement as a result of a bidding process for new generation. The project will include two natural gas-fired combustion turbine generators.

Each technical area assessed in the PSA includes a discussion of the existing environmental setting; the project's conformance with laws, ordinances, regulations and standards (LORS); whether the facility can be constructed and operated safely and reliably; project-specific direct and cumulative impacts; the environmental consequences of the project using the proposed mitigation measures; conclusions and recommendations; and any proposed conditions of certification under which the project should be constructed and operated, should it be approved.

In summary this PSA finds that:

  • Energy Commission staff cannot conclude at this time that the proposed project complies with the Fresno County General Plan Agriculture and Land Use Element and the Fresno County Zoning Ordinance. Starwood Power-Midway, LLC, (applicant) is working with Fresno County staff to resolve the noncompliance issues. If these issues are not resolved, the Commission could ask Fresno County to amend its general plan, or the Commission could exercise its override authority and license the project if it found that the facility is required for public convenience and necessity.

  • The applicant has yet to obtain a small amount of emission reduction credits (390 pounds) to complete the offset package. Staff expects that Starwood Power-Midway, LLC, will provide these additional emission reduction credits before the FSA is completed.

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

Assuming the Starwood Power Project receives a license from the Energy Commission by January 2008, construction of the project would begin in June 2008. The power plant could begin generating electricity by May 2009. The project's total capital cost is an estimated $85 million. The PSA for the Starwood Power Project is available on the Energy Commission's website: www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/starwood/index.html

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, 17 power plant projects are active in the Energy Commission's review process, representing 6,654 MW. More information about the Energy Commission power plant projects is available at: www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/all_projects.html.

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