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(Change BIO-10 Verification Language)

The Otay Mesa Generating Project is a nominal 510-megawatt natural gas-fired power facility. Construction is currently suspended with the project approximately 9 percent complete and the restart of construction activities is scheduled for May 1, 2007. The facility is located approximately 15 miles southeast of the City of San Diego in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego County.

On March 29, 2007, California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) staff received a petition from Otay Mesa Energy Center, LLC, to amend the Energy Commission Decision for their project.


Calpine's Otay Mesa Energy Center is seeking approval to change the verification language in Condition of Certification BIO-10 to allow Otay Mesa Energy Center to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Energy Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The purpose of the MOU is to fund the purchase of additional required habitat by the Friends of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge to compensate for habitat impacts associated with the change in the construction methodology of the natural gas pipeline. Calpine has previously completed habitat purchases for the impacts related to the project site under Condition of Certification BIO-10. This proposed change is to address a problem in finding suitable compensation habitat for sale in the project area. The Energy Commission staff has confirmed this lack of suitable and available compensation habitat with both the USFWS and the California Department of Fish and Game. The condition of certification will remain unchanged, however the proposed change to the verification language is presented below in underlined text:


To compensate for temporary and permanent impacts to sensitive species habitat, the project owner shall implement a habitat compensation strategy that guarantees the perpetual care of at least 43.7 acres of off-site habitat in the region of the proposed project.

Verification: At least 30 days prior to the start of any project-related ground disturbance activities the project owner will provide written verification to the Compliance Project Manager (CPM) that all habitat compensation purchases have been completed. At the same time, written verification must also be provided showing that the associated endowment and any other associated costs related to the habitat compensation have also been provided.

The project owner may also satisfy this condition by executing an MOU with the project owner, the Energy Commission staff and the USFWS that expressly fulfills the terms of this condition by funding the USFWS San Diego National Wildlife Refuge's purchase and care for the compensation habitat.

Within 90 days after completion of project construction, the project owner shall provide the CPM aerial photographs taken after construction and an analysis of the amount of any additional habitat compensation disturbance [other] than that identified in this staff assessment. The CPM will notify the project owner of any additional funds required to compensate for any additional habitat disturbance at the adjusted market value at the time of construction to acquire and manage habitat.

On March 28, 2007, the USFWS issued an amendment to the Biological Opinion for the Calpine Otay Mesa Energy Center. The amended Biological Opinion allows Calpine to meet or exceed the requirements of the original Biological Opinion by either direct acquisition of habitat or by depositing funds in the Friends of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge account. The USFWS anticipates that the acquisition of suitable habitat will occur within approximately six months of funds transfer if Calpine elects to meet the requirement of the Biological Opinion by funding the Friends of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

The project was originally licensed to PG&E Generating, and was subsequently sold to Calpine. Therefore, Calpine would not have known of this habitat availability problem at the time of licensing. The requested change will allow Calpine to transfer funds to the Friends of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge for the purchase of suitable compensation habitat when it becomes available in the future.


Pursuant to section 1769(a)(2), Title 20, California Code of Regulations, Energy Commission approval for the change is not required if Energy Commission staff determines: 1) that there is no possibility that the modification may have a significant effect on the environment, and 2) that the modification will not result in a change or deletion of a condition of certification, or make changes that would cause the project not to comply with applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, or standards. Energy Commission staff has determined that the proposed change to the verification language meets these criteria because:

  1. Existing conditions of certification are sufficient to cover the proposed change without changes to or deletion of a condition of certification;

  2. The change to the verification language will not have any significant effect on the environment; and

  3. The change to the verification language will have no impact on the project's compliance with applicable laws, ordinances, regulations or standards.

Any person may file a written objection to staff's determination on the grounds that the project change does not meet the criteria set forth above. If you object to staff's determination, please submit the objection in writing to Christopher Meyer, Compliance Project Manager, at the address above, or by fax at (916) 654-4678, or by e-mail at cmeyer@energy.state.ca.us. If no substantive objection is received by April 30, 2007 at 5:00 P.M., the requested change will be approved. This Notice is also posted on the Energy Commission's website at www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/otaymesa/compliance/.

Date posted: April 19, 2007

TERRENCE O'BRIEN, Deputy Director
Energy Facilities Siting Division


Mail List # 708

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