Using less water and natural gas than older models, the Sutter Energy Center came online in 2001, claiming to be one of the “cleanest” power plants ever built. Today, this 550-megawatt gas-fired plant is still standing southwest of Yuba City, but now lies at the heart of a heated climate clash.
Calpine, the Houston-based company that owns the Sutter Energy Center, presented a proposal to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District: to decarbonize the facility using carbon capture technology to help SMUD hit its ambitious target of zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The technology, developed by Colorado-based ION Clean Energy, would capture the facility’s carbon dioxide contained in the flue gas, shuttle it to an absorption tower, where it would bind with a liquid solvent before getting sent through a pipeline to be stored thousands of feet into the Earth. With this sequestration equipment in place,
Calpine officials say, the proposed project would capture at least 95% of carbon dioxide emissions.