Pastoria Energy Facility, Docket No. 99-AFC-7 (Pastoria)

Certified On December 20, 2000

Project Manager: Kae Lewis

Staff Counsel: Dick Ratliff

Hearing Officer: Susan Gefter

Presiding Member: Commissioner Robert Laurie

Project Summary

AFC Filing, Data Adequacy, and Project Description.


On November 30, 199, Pastoria Energy Facility, a subsidiary of Enron, filed an AFC for the nominal 750 MW natural gas-fired Pastoria Energy Facility Project, a merchant plant proposed to be located on the Tejon Ranch at the base of the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, about 30 miles south of Bakersfield. Pastoria was found to be data adequate by the Energy Commission on January 26, 2000.


The site was undeveloped grazing land, adjacent to an existing gravel mining operation. The property owner, Tejon Ranchcorp, was leasing the property to Enron. Tejon Ranchcorp held the site under the protection of a Williamson Act contract, but it obtained a cancellation of that contract by the Kern County Board of Supervisors so the powerplant could be built. Kern County also approved a parcel map and zoning variance, eliminating any possible land use conformity issues. There were no nearby residential neighbors.
Air Quality.
The two most active intervenors were the Kern Audubon Society and the Kern-Kaweah Sierra Club Chapter. Their issue was potential detrimental health effects from project-related emissions, especially ammonia releases during use of the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) process. SCR itself was the industry standard for reducing harmful nitrogen oxide Nox emissions. However, SCR's dependence upon ammonia in the NOx cleansing process remained the systems one vulnerability. (See Crockett I.)
Applicant's proposal only included SCR as a back-up technology. As its first choice, Enron proposed to employ XONON, an unproven new method for controlling NOx. Should XONON not be feasible for commercial operation at this larger scale, applicant needed to license SCR to avoid Pastoria being dependent upon XONON.
The Committee and Commission were quite comfortable with SCR, already installed in most facilities licensed by the CEC during the last fifteen years. Thus, with sufficient ammonia controls in place, applicant was permitted to install XONON, and SCR was also licensed as an alternative.
The intervenors were also dissatisfied with the identification of species of concern by the biologists who had analyzed potential impacts from Pastoria. However, the Committee and Commission relied upon CEC staff, applicant, and the state and federal agencies to conclude that all necessary biology conditions of certification were in place to mitigate impacts to protected species.
Although the intervenors raised their issues, Pastoria was close to being an uncontested case. Timing also favored the applicant. The critical licensing review process occurred right at the time of the 2000-2001 electricity supply crisis. During this period, the Energy Commission was generally trying to move cases to conclusion as fast as possible, absent significant environmental problems or land use non-conformities. Since Pastoria had no major impediments, the AFC was completed in eleven months.
On December 20, 2000, Pastoria was unanimously certified, becoming the ninth merchant plant licensed by the Energy Commission.
Construction commenced in 2001 and Pastoria was scheduled to be completed during the summer of 2003. However, Calpine ended up delaying many of its new projects. Pastoria construction is now over the 50% mark, with a new operational target date of June 2005.