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Industry News

San Jose Council Rejects Metcalf Energy Center

LCG, Nov. 29, 2000--The city council of the community that bills itself as the "Capital of Silicon Valley" voted early this morning to reject a 600 megawatt power plant proposed for a patch of land currently zoned partly for agriculture and partly for industry.

San Jose, Calif., Mayor Ron Gonzales doesn't believe there is a power shortage in Silicon Valley. "We want to understand what the needs are, and the alternatives, and potential other sites," he told a news conference yesterday before the Council meeting.

Apparently Mayor Gonzales has forgot the blackouts that hit close to 100,000 electricity customers in the South San Francisco Bay Area last June, when insufficient power caused a large substation to trip off line.

Calpine Corp., the big independent power producer that makes its home in San Jose, was unable to sway the populist local politicians and will have to rely on state regulators overruling objections to its proposed Metcalf Energy Center. The company was baffled by the "not in my back yard" attitude of its home town.

Lisa Poelle, a Calpine spokeswoman, said "If we don't get the opportunity to build this project, we'll be minus 600 megawatts of electricity in this town and, as the high-tech capital of the world, that's embarrassing." She said this morning's rejection was "just a bump in the road."

Among the biggest opponents of the Metcalf plant is Cisco Systems Inc., the number one computer networking company. Cisco is San Jose's largest employer and is building a 20,000-worker factory -- high-tech factories are called "campuses" -- on the same industrial-agricultural land and thinks the power it needs can be generated in Argentina.

Cisco scratched around and found some "experts" who would say the power plant isn't needed. It would be an eyesore, the "consultants" said, and it would pollute the whole area.

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