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

Microsoft Corporation proposes to construct and operate the San Jose City Data Center (project) located at 1657 Alviso-Milpitas Road in San Jose, California. The project would consist of two single-story data center buildings with approximately 479,000 gross square feet of administrative and data center space. The electrical load of the project would be up to 99 megawatts, inclusive of information technology (IT) equipment, ancillary electrical/telecommunications equipment, and other electrical loads (administrative, heat rejection, and safety/security). The project would also include an onsite 115-kilovolt (kV) substation with two 115-kV electrical supply lines that would connect to PG&E’s Los Esteros Substation, located adjacent to the site. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires the lead agency to consider the whole of the action; therefore, the Energy Commission will include the entire data center project in its analysis, which includes the construction of the data center buildings along with the installation and operation of the generators and any associated utility connection facilities.

Presiding Member: Karen Douglas, Commissioner

Associate Member: Patty Monahan, Commissioner

Hearing Officer: Caryn Holmes and Deborah Dyer

February 19, 2021, Public Scoping Meeting San Jose Data Center

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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