Sutter Energy Center

Docket Number:

97-AFC-02 (Application For Certification)
97-AFC-02C (Compliance Proceeding)

Project Status: Licensed; In Compliance Phase.
Operational: July 2, 2001

The California Energy Commission approved this project's Application For Certification on April 14, 1999. The Commission monitors the power plant's construction, operation and eventual decommissioning through a compliance proceeding.

Key Dates


The project as proposed by Calpine Corporation is a 540 megawatt, natural gas-fired, combined cycle facility. The combined cycle design consists of two combustion turbine generators (CTGs), two heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) with duct burners and a steam turbine generator (STG).

The Sutter Power Project will be located adjacent to Calpine's Greenleaf Unit #1 cogeneration power plant, approximately seven miles southwest of Yuba City, on South Township Road near the intersection with Best Road. The land dedicated for the facility will comprise 10-12 acres of Calpine's existing 77-acre parcel (Sutter County Assessor's Parcel Number 21-230-25). Since the land is currently zoned for agricultural uses, Calpine will request Sutter County to permit a change in zoning from agricultural to a Planned Development site for the entire 77-acre parcel.

Calpine has proposed a new 4.0 mile 230 kilovolt (kV) overhead electric transmission line will be built to a new switching station which will interconnect to the Western Area Power Administration's electrical transmission system. A new 14-mile natural gas pipeline will be constructed to provide fuel for the project. The 16 inch gas pipeline will connect to an existing PG&E natural gas supply line located to the west of the facility site. Potable water and cooling water will be provided by an on-site well system that will be developed as part of the project. Sanitary waste will be treated on-site. Treated sanitary waste and all other wastewater generated in the operation of the plant were proposed to be discharged to the existing surface drainage system requiring a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.

As a result of the review process and the concerns raised by the public, Sutter County staff, Energy Commission staff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other interested parties, Calpine provided a mitigation package that would address many of these concerns and potential environmental impacts. The following summarizes the proposed mitigation measures.

  • The Sutter Power Plant will utilize a 100% dry cooling design that will reduce groundwater use by over 95% from the original proposal of 3,000 gallons per minute to a revised annual average of less than 140 gallons per minute.
  • The dry cooled plant will be zero effluent discharge facility and not discharge any process fluids into drainage canals in the area.
  • Calpine is prepared to re-route the transmission line down South Township and west on O'Banion to a switchyard site on the south side of O'Banion Road near the Sutter Bypass.
  • Calpine proposes to further reduce emissions from the plant to 2.5 parts per million (ppm) nitrogen oxide (NOx).

Procedural History

Calpine Corporation petitioned the California Energy Commission for an exemption from the Notice of Intention requirements of Public Resource Code section 25502 for the prospective Sutter Power Project. Pursuant to Public Resources Code section 25540.6(a)(1), the Commission granted the exemption June 25, 1997.

Between June and September 1997, five publicly noticed prefiling workshops were held to discuss the prospective Sutter Power Project and the Energy Commission's Application for Certification (AFC) data adequacy requirements.

On December 15, 1997, Calpine filed the Sutter Power Project AFC. On January 21, 1998, the Energy Commission found that the application met the data adequacy requirements. On February 2, 1998, in order to more fully understand the project and adequately analyze the potential impacts associated with the project, Energy Commission staff filed a data request for additional information in nine technical areas. Data responses in air quality, biology, cultural resources, hazardous materials, land use, public health, soils and water, transmission system engineering and visual resources were due by March 4, 1998.

The Preliminary Staff Assessment was completed and filed on July 1, 1998. A total of nine workshops were held in Yuba City to discuss and receive input for the Final Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Final Staff Assessment was filed on October 19, 1998. Evidentiary Hearings were held on November 2,10, 16, and December 2, 1998.

The Presiding Member's Proposed Decision (PMPD) was issued on January 20, 1999. Written comments on the PMPD were due February 19, 1999, with the Committee holding a publicly noticed meeting on February 11, 1999, to take verbal comments. A revised PMPD was issued on March 2, 1999, with a publicly noticed meeting scheduled for March 10, 1999 to take additional comments. The full Commission considered the matter at a publicly noticed hearing on March 17, 1999, at which time they voted to adopt the recommendation of the committee, which was to approve the project (conditioned upon Sutter County adoption of the necessary General Plan Amendment and rezone). Sutter County approved the General Plan Amendment and rezone on April 6, 1999. the Energy Commisison gave final approval of the project on April 14, 1999.

Energy Commission Facility Certification Process

The California Energy Commission is the lead agency (for licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts and larger) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and has a certified regulatory program under CEQA. Under its certified program, the Energy Commission is exempt from having to prepare an environmental impact report. Its certified program, however, does require environmental analysis of the project, including an analysis of alternatives and mitigation measures to minimize any significant adverse effect the project may have on the environment.

For Questions About This Siting Case Contact:

Eric Veerkamp
Compliance Project Manager
Siting, Transmission and Environmental Protection (STEP) Division
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-2000
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-654-4295

For Questions About Participation In Siting Cases Contact:

Public Adviser
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-12 Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-654-4489
Toll-Free in California: 1-800-822-6228

News Media Please Contact:

Media & Public Communications Office
Phone: 916-654-4989

Compliance Proceeding

Original Proceeding



Siting Genera List Serve
Automated Email Notifications

You will receive an email requesting that you confirm your subscription.