For Immediate Release: January 30, 2009
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989


Preliminary staff assessment released for the
planned Avenal Energy project

What: The staff of the California Energy Commission has released its Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA) for the proposed 600-megawatt Avenal Energy project in Kings County.

When: Today, Friday, January 30, 2008.

Where: The PSA is available on the Energy Commission's Website at:

In its PSA, staff identifies several unresolved issues related to the construction and operation of the Avenal Energy project. These issues include the project's significant and cumulative environmental impacts on biological and land use resources. The PSA said more work is needed to make all parties agree on the habitat compensation ratio for the San Joaquin kit fox and Swainson's hawk, and on how wide a setback from the proposed plant would have to be established to preserve a larger area for the kit fox, San Joaquin pocket mouse and other species. Also to be resolved, according to the PSA is the issue of "prime farmland" to be impacted by the proposed project.

The PSA serves as the staff's initial evaluation of the environmental, engineering, and public health and safety impacts of proposed power facilities. After 30-days of public comment and community workshops on the document, the Energy Commission will respond to all remarks and release its final staff assessment (FSA). The FSA will serve as staff's testimony at the evidentiary hearings to be held in Kings County by the committee of two commissioners reviewing the case.

Why: Project owner Avenal Power Center, LLC of Houston, Texas plans to develop the Avenal Energy project on 34 acres of a 148-acre site zoned for industrial use just south of the Fresno County line and two miles east of Interstate 5. The proposed project is six miles from the City of Avenal's residential and commercial districts.

If licensed by the Energy Commission, the $530-million power facility will begin construction in April 2010, with initial startup in October 2011 and full commercial operation by June 2012.

Throughout the project's 12-month licensing review, the Energy Commission will conduct public workshops and hearings in Kings County on the proposed plant to determine whether it should be certified for a license and under what set of conditions.

More information on the Avenal Energy project is available on the Energy Commission website at:

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