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SMUD is planning natural gas plant near Rancho Seco

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Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2002 10:00 pm

SACRAMENTO - To expand its electrical supply in Galt and the remainder of Sacramento County, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District plans to construct a 1,000-megawatt natural gas power plant near the closed Rancho Seco nuclear power plant.

If SMUD gets the California Energy Commission's blessing, the first phase of the project is expected to be online in 2005, with the second phase to be completed three years later.

Project director Colin Taylor said he hopes to acquire the license from the California Energy Commission by next spring.

An issue that has yet to be resolved is water supply needed to serve the four combustion turbines.

Energy Commission officials told SMUD engineers and attorneys at a workshop Tuesday morning in Sacramento that they would prefer that SMUD used reclaimed water rather than fresh water from the American River through the Folsom South Canal.

SMUD has had 15,000 acre feet per year allocated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation since 1970, said Kevin Hudson, an engineer on contract with SMUD for the Rancho Seco project, officially called the Cosumnes Power Plant.

SMUD officials agreed to explore the use of reclaimed water during the second phase in case the SMUD can't limit its use to 15,000 acre feet, Hudson said.

SMUD officials briefly talked to the city of Galt about providing reclaimed sewer water, Hudson said.

"It would be cool if they could do it," Galt Public Works Director Doug Gault said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "They would need eight million gallons a day. I could give them only two (million)."

Even if the Galt City Council someday adopts the controversial Delta Greens project, a Del Webb-style development with 2,500 homes, the city wouldn't come close to the eight million gallons that SMUD would need, Gault said.

It would have been an attractive proposition for Galt, he said, because SMUD would have paid all the expenses of piping it to Rancho Seco.

SMUD and California Energy Commission officials will continue to negotiate the water issue.

Tuesday's three-hour meeting at the Energy Commission office was open to the public, and two members not affiliated with the two agencies showed up to comment on the project.

One of them, Kathy Peasha, who lives on a hill at Clay East and Kirkwood roads, southwest of the former Rancho Seco plant, told officials she was concerned about plans for construction trucks to use Clay East Road instead of the busier Twin Cities Road, which leads to the main entrance on the north side of the Rancho Seco property.

Truck parking and potentially all-night lighting could be on for the five-year construction period too close to Peasha's and her neighbors' residences, she said.

"There's got to be a better way," Peasha said.

For more information, call Roberta Mendonca at (916) 654-4489 or Kristy Chew at (916) 654-3929. Information is also available at two Web sites, www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/smud and www.smud.org/cpp.

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