Project Owner
Docket Number
96 MW
Santa Clara
Reciprocating Engine
Project Status
Under Review
Project Type
Small Power Plant Exemption
Project Description

The CA3 Backup Generating Facility will consist of a total of forty-four (44) 2.75-MW diesel fired generators that will be used exclusively to provide up to 96 MW of backup emergency generation to support the CA3 Data Center, to be located at 2590 Walsh Avenue in Santa Clara, California. Forty (40) of the generators would be dedicated to replace the electricity needs of the data center in case of a loss of utility power, and four (4) of the generators would be used to support redundant critical cooling equipment and other general building and life safety services (house generators).

Presiding Member: Siva Gunda, Commissioner

Associate Member: Kourtney Vaccaro, Commissioner

Hearing Officer: Susan Cochran and Kristen Driskell

  • 4/5/2021 - Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE) filed
  • 1/21/2022- Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) docketed to CEC webpage
  • 1/24/2022- Draft EIR published by State Clearinghouse
  • 3/9/2022-  Deadline for Comments
  • 3/24/2022- Final EIR, Response to Comments, and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program Filed
  • 4/14/2022- Opening testimony
  • 4/26/2022- CEC Staff's Rebuttal Testimony Filed
  • 4/26/2022- Notice of Prehearing Conference and Revised Scheduling Orders
  • 5/2/2022- CEC Staff's Prehearing Conference Statement Filed
  • 5/10/2022- Combination Prehearing Conference/Evidentiary Hearing Scheduled CANCELLED
  • 5/19/2022- Revised Notice of Prehearing Conference/Evid. Hearing and Revised Scheduling Order
  • 5/24/2022- Prehearing Conference Conducted
  • 5/272022- Evidentiary Hearing Conducted
  • 6/22/2022-CEC staff filed Update to Air Quality section of FEIR

Small Power Plant Exemption

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has the exclusive authority to certify thermal power plants 50 megawatts (MW) and greater proposed for construction in California, including the infrastructure serving the plants such as such as electric transmission lines, fuel supply lines, and water pipelines. The two processes available to developers are the Application for Certification (AFC) and the Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE).

The Application for Certification (AFC) is the standard licensing process for proposed power plant projects that fall under CEC’s jurisdiction. The CEC's power plant site certification program is a certified regulatory program under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). It incorporates all state, local, and regional agencies’ requirements necessary for a plant to be constructed and operated. The CEC also coordinates its review with federal agencies that will be issuing permits.

The Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE) process allows applicants with facilities between 50 and 100 MW to obtain an exemption from CEC’s jurisdiction and proceed with local permitting rather than requiring CEC certification. CEC can grant an exemption if it finds that the proposed facility will not create a substantial adverse impact on the environment or energy resources. Public Resources Code section 25519(c) designates CEC as the “lead agency”, in accordance with CEQA, for all facilities seeking an SPPE. In granting an SPPE, the CEC is not the final approval necessary for construction and operation of a project. Instead, if the CEC grants an SPPE, the responsible local land use authorities and other agencies, such as the local air management district, will assume jurisdiction over the project under their respective permitting processes, and conduct any other necessary environmental review as “responsible agencies” under CEQA.

The AFC filing fee must be made when the project is submitted. There is also an annual compliance fee for projects granted a license.

The fee for filing an SPPE is the cost for the CEC to prepare the CEQA environmental document. A deposit is required at the filing. If the deposit exceeds the review cost, the remainder will be refunded. If the costs exceed the deposit, the applicant will be billed for the difference.


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Eric Veerkamp

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