>Calpine's Metcalf Energy Center
>Ken Abreu is Project Manager for Calpine ,s Metcalf Energy Center (MEC)
>project. With a proposed location in Coyote Valley, the 600 megawatt
>gas-fired power plant is deemed vital for local and statewide needs by
>California Energy Commission (CEC) analysts and the Independent System
>Operator (ISO). Last November, the San Jose City Council voted against
>the land use changes necessary to support the project.
>Ken will describe the MEC proposal and the possibility that the CEC
>will overrule the city and allow the plant to be built, in light of the
>current energy crisis.
Ken Abreu gave a very detailed presentation about the MEC, after explaining that it is going to be the first really big new power plant to be sited in the Bay Area since the 1970s. During the 1980s the only things that were built around here were cogeneration facilities, which were put up places where there was large industrial demand for the steam. Since such plants were only sized according to the needs of the steam demand, they were generally in the 20 to 50 MW range. Calpine, at 600 MW is huge by comparison.
The location in Coyote Valley was selected because it sits right by a power line and a gas pipeline, making the amount of additional infrastructure needed very small. Since the site is currently used for farming and open space, there are few neighbors. Ken Abreu felt that there are no other sites that are as optimum for an Energy Center in the Bay Area as this one. The 600 MW size was selected because that is the smallest size at which major economies of scale work in the plants favor.
He also explained that the combined cycle generator which they plan to use there is a state of the art design that has only been around for the last decade or so. It consists of two turbines, the first being a gas turbine that works much the same way as a jet engine, except the heat that it exhausts is used to make steam, which is then run through a steam turbine which produces about half as much electricity as the other one. The two turbine topology means that at a system level, this design puts out about 40% more electricity per cubic foot of gas than the state of the art designs of the 1980s.
The project has a huge list of endorsers. Ken Abreu explained that they had gotten endorsements from some environmental groups like the Sierra Club because the additional efficiency of the new layout would mean that for a given load, the new system will produce less carbon dioxide. Currently the CEC is doing a detailed review of the permits, and they expect the decision about weather to over ride the City Council on weather to build the plant will happen soon. As he said, there are five members on the board, and they will vote.