Docket Number
99 MW
San Jose
Reciprocating Engine
Project Status
Under Review
Project Type
Small Power Plant Exemption
Project Description

SV1, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Equinix, LLC (SV1 or applicant) filed an application with the California Energy Commission (CEC) seeking an exemption from the CEC’s jurisdiction (Small Power Plant Exemption, or SPPE) for the Great Oaks South Backup Generating Facility (GOSBGF) (20-SPPE-01) and proceed with local permitting rather than requiring certification by the CEC. In reviewing an SPPE application, the CEC is the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and will perform the required environmental analysis.

The GOSBGF would be part of the Great Oaks South Data Center (GOSDC or project) to be located in the City of San Jose. The GOSDC would also include three data center buildings and a connection to a new Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) substation. The three, two-story GOSDC buildings would each be 182,350 square feet. The approximately 18-acre project site is associated with three addresses (123, 127, and 131 Great Oaks Boulevard), with each address designated to one building assigned by the City of San Jose.

GOSBGF would have a generating capacity of up to 99.0 megawatts (MW) supporting the three data center buildings. GOSBGF would consist of 36, 3.25-MW diesel fired generators in six generation yards that would each be separately electrically interconnected to the three data center buildings and used exclusively to provide backup generation and uninterruptible power supply for its tenant’s servers, only operating when the PG&E electrical service to the data centers has failed. In addition, the GOSBGF would include three life safety diesel fired generators, each capable of generating 0.50 MW.

The project would include a new PG&E substation (Santa Teresa Substation), a 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line extension to the substation from the existing Metcalf-Edenvale 115 kV transmission line, and five new 21 kilovolt (kV) distribution feeders that would extend underground either along Via Del Oro or along Great Oaks Boulevard, or via both routes to the project site. The applicant understands that PG&E is currently constructing the substation. Project elements would also include switchgear and distribution cabling to interconnect the six generation yards to their respective buildings. 

Presiding Member: Karen Douglas, Commissioner

Associate Member: David Hochschild, Chair

Hearing Officer: Ralph Lee and Susan Cochran

September 21, 2021, Evidentiary Hearing - Great Oaks South Backup Generating Facility

September 7, 2021, Prehearing Conference - Great Oaks South Backup Generating Facility

December 11, 2020, Continued Public Scoping Meeting Great Oaks South Backup Generating Facility

November 17, 2020, Public Scoping Meeting

  • 3/19/2020 - Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE) filed
  • 5/21/21 Staff’s Draft Environmental Impact Report filed
  • 7/28/21 Staff’s Final Environmental Impact Report filed

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.


Project Manager

Lisa Worrall

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