For Immediate Release: March 28, 2012
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989


Small Power Plant Exemption Granted for Proposed Santa Clara Data Center

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today granted a small power plant exemption (SPPE) for the proposed second phase of the Santa Clara SC-1 Data Center.

By a 3-0 vote, the Commission adopted the proposed decision for the second phase of the Santa Clara SC-1 Data Center. The siting committee's proposed decision recommended approval because it is eligible by law for a SPPE and would not cause a substantial adverse impact to the environment or energy resources.

Xeres Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of DuPont Fabros Technologies, LP submitted the SPPE application for the data center, which is located at 555 Reed Street in Santa Clara. Originally permitted by the city of Santa Clara, the data center began commercial operation in September 2011. Sixteen diesel-fueled backup emergency generators with a capacity of 36 megawatts (MWs) were permitted and installed.

Before the facility could be completed and additional backup generators could be installed, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) required an exemption for the data center from the Commission's licensing process. The second phase would add 16 generators, bringing the total up to 32 generators with the capacity to generate 72 MWs. The data center relies on the Silicon Valley Power grid system for its electrical needs. The backup generators do not feed power onto the grid. The generators are used to run the data center only if a power outage occurs.

The Commission's action was based solely on the record of facts established during the project's evidentiary hearing as part of the SPPE.

The siting committee's proposed decision agreed with Commission staff's initial study and negative declaration for the proposed project. The Commission documents were prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and applicable Commission and state guidelines.

Commission staff concluded that proper implementation of the mitigation measures described in the mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements of the city of Santa Clara's initial study and mitigated negative declaration, as well as the authority to construct from the BAAQMD, would reduce the project's impacts to insignificance. The mitigation measures that are already in place are adequate, according to the proposed decision.

The Commission licenses thermal power plants 50 MWs and larger. If a power plant project is between 50 and 100 MWs, the Commission may exempt it from its review process under a SPPE. However, the Commission must conduct an environmental analysis that finds that the proposed project would not cause substantial adverse impacts to the environment or energy resources.

More information about the project can be found at:

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.