With the pressure of an exhaustive state regulatory review andscrutiny of its neighbors, San Jose, CA-based Calpine Corp. says itis prepared to spend whatever it takes to make a 600 MW naturalgas-fired merchant power plant in its headquarters city a “model”for efficiency and environmental cleanliness among its growingfleet of gas-fired power plants nationally.

Not coincidentally, the outset of the state regulatory reviewleading to approval of the $300-$400 million facility begins laterthis month. Calpine announced May 30 it is prepared to go to extraexpense to cut the proposed plant’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissionsto record low levels.

The Metcalf Energy Center on a 14-acre site within the city ofSan Jose will have NOx reduced by 33% from levels already approvedby the local air quality district, which would make it the lowestsuch emissions for a California-licensed power plant, according toCalpine’s calculations. Metcalf is one of four San Francisco Bayarea power plants proposed jointly with internationalengineering/constructor Bechtel Enterprises and Calpine.

The added reductions are being achieved by a new designconfiguration for the plant, according to Calpine’s CurtHildebrand, Metcalf project director.

He added that the “concerns in the community” caused Calpine andBechtel to explore new options

“This will show that we are making continuous improvements tothe air quality side of the equation,” said Bill Highlander, aCalpine vice president. “We want to make this a showcase project,so we kept trying to find ways to make this as good as we possiblycan – even from the visual impact of it. We’re spending a lot ofmoney trying to make it look different than a power plant in someother (more remote) location. We trying to make it the bestlooking, cleanest plant in the country because in is right here inour hometown.”

The proposal is in the early stages of what is usually ayearlong process for gaining approval from the California EnergyCommission (CEC), which will hold a series of public hearings.

Richard Nemec, Los Angeles

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