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Industry News

Consumer Group Endorses San Jose, Calif. Power Plant

LCG, Oct. 26, 2000--A small but vocal consumer group ordinarily antipathetic to producers of electric power has endorsed the 600 megawatt Metcalf Energy Center merchant plant proposed for San Jose, Calif., by Calpine Corp.

It is the first time that TURN, which now stands for The Utility Reform Network, has ever publicly endorsed a power plant project undergoing California Energy Commission siting review.

That's because, in part, so-called consumer organizations have blocked the development of new power plants in California and the state experienced almost daily power shortages during this past summer. While the advocacy groups oppose power plants for "not in my back yard" reasons, they are coming to realize that electricity is among the things consumers consume.

Michael P. Florio, a TURN lawyer, said in a statement "While TURN favors the expedited development of renewable and other small-scale distributed generation resources, it has become painfully clear that we also need to add significant amounts of new capacity that only a project like Metcalf can provide on a timely basis."

In a letter to the Energy Commission, TURN wrote "We are concerned about the serious reliability problems now affecting the electrical grid in the Bay Area in general, and the fast-growing South Bay region in particular. The rolling blackouts that the ISO (Independent System Operator) was required to impose earlier this year provide stark testimony as to the need for additional generation resources inside the Bay Area population center to help provide vital voltage support to the grid."

Though it has been working its way through the energy Commission siting process for well over a year, Metcalf seems to be nearing approval. The commission staff has recommended the facility, with misgivings, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has determined it would meet and in many key areas improve upon emissions standards.

Metcalf has received support from include the American Lung Association of Santa Clara and San Benito Counties, the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, California Large Energy Consumers Association, the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, the Clean Air Coalition, and from the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies.

The plan is opposed by Silicon Valley manufacturing giant Cisco Systems, which is building a new factory near the Metcalf Energy Center site. High-tech companies call their factories "campuses," and Cisco Systems feels a campus is no place for a power plant -- no sir! Not in Cisco's back yard.

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