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Community News

Calpine breaks ground on Metcalf Energy Center
June 21, 2002

Reported and written by Scott Scholz

This morning, on the first day of summer 2002, Calpine held a private ground breaking ceremony for their controversial south San Jose power plant at the site of the future Metcalf Energy Center. The ceremony was only witnessed by supporters of the project. KCBS Radio reporter, Betsy Gebhart, reported that more than 100 local dignitaries and Calpine representatives attended the ceremony. According to a Calpine press release, "Speakers will include Assemblyman Rod Wright, chair of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn and State Senator Bruce McPherson, all of whom strongly support the project."

Among the dignitaries wielding ceremonial gold shovels were District 2 and local City councilman Forrest Williams, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, local Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage and local California Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn. According to Calpine public relations person Lisa Poelle, the power plant should be online in the summer of 2004. Mayor Gonzales was heard on KGO radio that he was "glad to see the MEC facility here going forward." He said the power plant will be environmentally safe.

MEC Ground breaking MEC Ground breaking
Forrest Williams Mayor Ron Gonzales Forrest Williams and Mayor Ron Gonzales CEC Commissioner Robert Laurie
Photos from June 21, 2002 KTVU Channel 2 10:00 News broadcast

Earlier in the week, Calpine held their second community construction update meeting. Since the December meeting, Calpine has graded the site and raised the site above the flood plain. They have also prepared the lay down area and have begun to receive some of the heavy equipment. During the site preparation phase, 17 to 20 human burial remains were discovered and were taken care of by Native American protocols. The remains were described to be very disturbed from farm equipment. 10 cultural artifacts were found too.

Lisa Poelle also provided an overview of recent events:

April 19, 2002 - Calpine had a ceremony to dedicate 131 acres of Tulare Hill to the Land Trust of Santa Clara County. They also provided a $1 million endowment to maintain the land. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren was the keynote speaker.

California Department of Water Resources has designated the Metcalf Energy Center as one of four critical projects the State would build if Calpine didn't.

April 23, 2002 - The first MEC Community Advisory meeting was held. Community advisory members are District 2 Council member Forrest Williams, Ken Abreu of Calpine, Lisa Poelle of Calpine, County Supervisor Don Gage, Bob Kieve, local residents Phil Mitchell and Elizabeth Cord, Vic Ficaro of CVRP and Carolyn McKenna of the Morgan Hill Unified School District. The first meeting focused on the color of the plant.

May 28, 2002 - The San Jose Council passed a resolution guaranteeing an agreement for an emergency access road, sewer lines and potable water lines connecting the power plant to Santa Teresa Boulevard over CVRP land. If the two parties can't agree to a deal by June 25, 2002, the City will use eminent domain to get the land for Calpine.

June 4, 2002 - Calpine acquired an easement for the natural gas pipeline connection from east of Highway 101, over Santa Clara County parkland to the project site.

June 10, 2002 - Calpine mailed a letter to the community regarding test pile driving.

Nick LaPorte, Calpine construction site manager, provided an update of recent and future construction activities. Next week, pile driving should begin and should last until about September 1, 2002. He expects to have to drive 17 to 20 piles. He says the project is right on schedule and there won't be much structure to see until about the first of next year.

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