Continued pressure on the California Energy Commission to license power projects has resulted in 42 license approvals to date since 1999. This week, the CEC signed off on two public agency power project licenses: the Sacramento Municipal Utility District?s 500 MW gas-fired Cosumnes project and the city of Santa Clara?s 147 MW Pico power proposal. While it was smooth sailing for Silicon Valley Power?s Pico project at the September 9 CEC meeting, SMUD endured choppy waters for its project?to be located at Rancho Seco, site of the muni's shuttered nuclear power plant?in spite of a unanimous vote by commissioners. ?Why should I have to live next to this?? said Kathy Peasha, one of several people opposing SMUD?s plant with a heavy dose of the 'Not In My Back Yard' syndrome. Surrounding landowners near the project site, or in the way of the proposed route of the 26-mile natural gas pipeline, strenuously objected to the certification. The alternative site was ?perfect? and would result in far fewer impacts, Peasha told the CEC. Two lawyers representing a handful of farmers argued that the proposed route of the pipeline, which would require easements in order to be built, was an unconstitutional taking of property. They urged the CEC to align the pipeline along the public right of way. There were also concerns about the plant?s air emissions and fears that when treated wastewater is used to replace fresh water to cool the turbines, it could threaten domestic water lines and surrounding farm land. SMUD originally proposed using a whopping 8,000 acre-feet per year of Sacramento River water to cool the plant, part of the flow originally intended to cool the now-defunct nuke. Following objections to the high water use for cooling, SMUD agreed to install a zero discharge system at the Cosumnes facility, which would help cut the water use to 2,660 acre-feet per year. (One to two average California households use 1 acre-foot of water per year.) In spite of ongoing opposition to the facility, commissioners Bill Keese, John Geesman and Robert Pernell approved the proposal. The facility will boost SMUD?s power generating capacity by 50 percent, thus reducing the amount of power it must buy. It is expected to save the agency up to $25 million a year in power costs. The plant will use the existing transmission lines and substation at Rancho Seco. The district plans to begin construction before the rainy season arrives and hopes to have the plant on line by summer of 2005. Unlike SMUD, Silicon Valley Power faced virtually no opposition to its project, which will be built on a 3-acre plot in an industrial section of Santa Clara. It would supply 25 percent of the city?s growing demand and replace power bought under a long-term contract that expires in 2005. Construction on its Pico plant was expected to begin the day following the vote and take up to 20 months to complete. The CEC also gave the green light to installing a selective catalytic reduction system on a 15-year old cogeneration plant in the San Joaquin Valley. The license modification of the Midway Sunset cogeneration facility is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to about 3 parts per million. The air emission controls are, however, expected to increase the amount of ammonia slip, a component of particulate matter. The region is a non-attainment area for PM10 and a license condition was added to limit the slip to 5 parts per million. At the end of the meeting, the CEC rejected a petition to reconsider the certification of the 500 MW Palomar Energy Project, slated for San Diego, approved last month. Intervenor Bill Powers unsuccessfully urged the commission to require that dry cooling be installed. Three million gallons of reclaimed water will be used to cool the plant.