Calif. Energy Comis proposes exemption for 72-MW backup generation for data center

SACRAMENTO – A California Energy Commission siting committee recommended that a small power plant exemption (SPPE) be granted to the proposed second phase of the Santa Clara SC-1 Data Center.

In the proposed decision released today, the committee said the second phase of the project is eligible by law for a SPPE and would not cause a substantial adverse impact to the environment or energy resources. Xeres Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of DuPont Fabros Technologies, LP submitted an application for a SPPE to complete the second phase of the Santa Clara SC-1 Data Center.

The first phase of the data center, which is located at 555 Reed Street in Santa Clara, currently operates with 16 backup diesel generators with a capacity of 36 megawatts (MWs). The second phase would add 16 backup generators, bringing the total up to 32 generators with the capacity to generate 72 MWs. The data center relies on the Silicon Valley Power grid system for its electrical needs. The backup generators do not feed power onto the grid. The generators are used to run the data center only if a power outage occurs.

The proposed decision is not a final decision on the project. The document is available for public comment. The full Commission is scheduled to hold a March 28 hearing on the proposed decision.

The entire document can be found at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/santaclara/documents/

The proposed decision agreed with Commission staff’s initial study and negative declaration on the proposed project. The Commission documents were prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and applicable Commission and state guidelines.

Commission staff concluded that proper implementation of the mitigation measures described in the mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements of the city of Santa Clara’s initial study and mitigated negative declaration, as well as the authority to construct from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, would reduce the project’s impacts to insignificance. The mitigation measures that are already in place are adequate, according to the proposed decision.

The Commission licenses thermal power plants 50 MWs and larger. If a power plant project is between 50 and 100 MWs, the Commission may exempt it from its review process under a SPPE. However, the Commission must conduct an environmental analysis that finds that the proposed project would not cause substantial adverse impacts to the environment or energy resources.