News Release

Habitat Conservation Plan Proposed for San Jose Power Plant Expansion

Plan Is Designed to Help Offset Impacts on Five Rare Species

June 22, 2010

Contacts:

Al Donner
Office: (916) 414-6566 Cell:(916) 712-2004
al_donner@fws.gov

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has released for public comment a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the expansion of a San Jose power plant that will protect 40 acres of key habitat for five rare species.

The Notice of Availability (NOA) of the proposed low-effect HCP for the Los Esteros Critical Energy Facility provides an opportunity for the public to comment. Comments on the proposed plan can be submitted through July 15, 2010.

The purpose of the HCP is to offset possible impacts on five federally protected species: the threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly and four endangered plants, the Coyote ceanothus, Metcalf Canyon jewel flower, Santa Clara Valley dudleya and Tiburon paintbrush.

The applicant Los Esteros Critical Energy Facility LLC plans to expand an existing 180 MW natural gas power plant in San Jose (on Alviso-Milpitas Road) to a 320 MW plant. Nitrogen deposition from the exhaust of the plant has the possibility of adversely affecting rare species that depend on serpentine soil in the area. The species have adapted to serpentine soil, which is low in nutrients. The nitrogen exhaust can effectively act as a fertilizer, enhancing the ability of non-native species to crowd out the rare native plants, and in turn the butterfly which depends on them for as its food.

The HCP would protect 40 acres of largely serpentine soil habitat on Coyote Ridge in Morgan Hill, including management to reduce non-native species. The applicant also would purchase Bay Area Air Quality Management District pollution credits equivalent to 27,945 tons per year for nitrogen deposition.

The draft HCP and draft Environmental Action Statement are available at www.fws.gov/sacramento

The Federal Register notice is available here.

Comments concerning the draft EAS and Plan can be sent by U.S. Mail or email through July 15, 2010 to: Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation Planning Branch, Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825; or by facsimile to 916-414-6713.