[svlug] No way
ikluft at thunder.sbay.org
Sat Feb 10 01:43:01 PST 2001
I somewhat hesitated to add to this thread since it isn't directly related
to Linux in Silicon Valley. But the curiosity is probably natural since
SVLUG members visit Cisco regularly for the meetings. SVLUG has been meeting
at Cisco ever since Linus' talk at SVLUG's 10th anniversary meeting in
March 1998, with only two times we had to meet at Netscape because the
Cisco facilities were booked.
I work for Cisco. (I usually don't mention that to strangers any more
since the company has become so high profile. But everyone in SVLUG
already knew it.) However, I don't represent the company because that
isn't my job; and I'm not at work right now; and I disagree with the
company on the issue of the Metcalf Energy Center (MEC) proposal.
>From: Ian B MacLure <imaclure at mail.arc.nasa.gov>
> Apparently their head cheese Miiiister Chambers is building a
> Mega McMansion down in Coyote Valley.This may or may not
> have anything to do with their attitude.
I have my doubts. It would be out of character for him to push himself
into the middle of such an obvious conflict of interest like that. It also
sounds way too easy for someone to have made up the story. John (as he
insists employees call him) has earned high respect for his honesty and
leading by example that I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt
So do you know of any references for that? Or is it from the grapevine?
(I'd expect that it is...)
> Anybody know what the Cisco position is on that small Calpine
> plant at the east end of their Tasman facility is?
Any position either way would be irrelevant. The power plant was there
first. Up until 1997 when Tasman ended at Zanker, that land was just a
farm. You could see some structure producing steam a mile away across
the open fields by the levee...
Now we know what that structure is. It's Calpine's Agnews Cogeneration
Facility, a 29MW gas-turbine power plant which also generates high-pressure
steam (delivered by underground pipes) for heating at the Agnews State
(mental) Hospital which is now next door to Cisco. Agnews was the
owner/operator of the farm before the state sold the land to Cisco.
However, I almost have to wonder if Calpine did something to complicate
or attempt to block the negotiations for Cisco's purchase of the Agnews
(Zanker/Site 4) property... I have no idea. The way things don't add up
for Cisco's opposition to MEC plant, it has always seemed to me that some
unpublished "bad blood" between the companies could explain it. That would
be one place where they've had contact before. But it's a wild guess.
I have never heard this hypothesis from anyone else.
>>I have difficulty believing that Cisco would fight against something that
>>would be so beneficial for not only them, but their entire community, just
>>because it would be "an eyesore."
Quite a few people who work there are puzzled by Cisco's opposition to the
MEC proposal. The company hasn't provided any more answers about it
internally than you hear in public.
I was hearing from some friends over a year ago that power usage was rapidly
catching up with supply and too few plants were being built. That was also
when the MEC proposal came into the headlines, as did Cisco's opposition to
it. I read all the sides (including South SJ residents) and remained
undecided on the issue for a long time while wondering if there was more
to the story. What had been printed in the paper didn't add up.
After waiting 8 months for an additional explanation that was never coming,
I eventually decided that I'm in favor of the MEC proposal. But having done
the research, I can tell you the pro's and con's I found. I'll start with
First, the MEC plant is proposed to be next to PG&E's Metcalf power substation.
That's the huge substation visible off Hwy 101 just south of the 85 junction
in South SJ. Between the enormous substation and the transmission lines
already there, nobody in the area (not even Cisco) can look at it and have
any doubt there's heavy power equipment there already. The existing
substation is much larger than MEC would be.
The substation is a point of entry for power coming into Silicon Valley from
transmission lines from elsewhere in the state's grid, which makes it an
efficient place to put a power plant. There would be no need to build big
long transmission lines to get the power to the South Bay's grid.
There is also an underground gas pipeline through there. So there's no need
to construct an additional long pipeline, which would have been prohibitely
expensive to attempt through Silicon Valley real estate.
I looked at the area and noticed there's a large hill, Tulare Hill, between
the MEC site and the residential areas. There are no residential neighbors
for 3/4 mile. So the only neighbors are PG&E's Metcalf substation, Cisco's
future Coyote Valley Research Park and Monterey Highway (SR82). And the
contact with Cisco will be minimal, at the end of a thin arm of the Cisco
land between Tulare Hill and Monterey Hwy at the corner that will be
The current power crisis shows that we don't have enough power generation in
the state. Last Summer's rolling blackouts pointed out that we don't have
enough in the Valley - they happenned because we were consuming more power
than the transmission lines could deliver. The state had enough power for
us back then but couldn't get it to us.
And finally, they did make efforts to reduce pollution. The output is
steam and CO2. It's a lot cleaner than the alternative of having businesses
frequently turning on their diesel generators. This point was significant
enough that it's why the Sierra Club actually endorsed the MEC plant. It's
almost unheard of for the Sierra Club to consider a compromise, especially
since they already made it clear they oppose anything in the Coyote Valley.
OK, so now let's look at the reasons why various groups oppose the MEC
First, in the nearby neighborhoods, you can't blame people for having
doubts and "what if" questions about any new emissions anywhere near their
homes. In some cases this is simple "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) opposition.
Then the City of San Jose's official beef with the plant is that the land
in the North Coyote valley is zoned for light industrial use. Any large
power plant is obviously heavy industrial. It could be re-zoned but the
Cisco development next door created a political dilemma once Cisco came
out against the MEC plant.
And finally there's Cisco. According to what I saw in the paper (and I
haven't heard any more than that), Cisco's reason for opposition is the
CO2 emissions and the chemicals that will be stored/used on the site,
which includes ammonia for the emissions scrubbers. The spokeman tells
the media that it's an incompatible use next to an R&D campus where people
have their workplaces. Info on Cisco's site is at http://www.c-v-r-p.com/
So that's a quick tour of the issue. It's a politically complicated one.
> And it gets even better, 'cause Cisco wants to put in their own
> private powerplant on their Coyote site. It would be about 1/10th
> the capacity of the Calpine plant and do little or nothing for the
> fundamental problem.
The Murky News retracted at least part of that story. They reported that
the company asked about a power plant but they said the company denied
actually making any plans. I saw the retraction in the print version but
couldn't find it on their web site. So this topic is still uncertain.
If Cisco proceded with its own power plant idea, it would seem to be a
mockery of its own opposition to the 10X larger MEC plant. But hey, why not?
After all, the Sierra Club was opposed to any development in the Coyote
Valley and then endorsed the MEC plant. There are enough contradictions
to go around now!
Ian Kluft KO6YQ PP-ASEL sbay.org coordinator
ikluft(at)thunder.sbay.org http://www.kluft.com/~ikluft/ San Jose, CA
"Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous
than deliberately accepted risks." -- Wilbur Wright, 1901
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