The bucolic orchards of Sutter County north of Sacramento had never seen anything like it: a visiting governor and a media swarm — all to christen the first major natural gas power plant in California in more than a decade.
At its 2001 launch, the Sutter Energy Center was hailed as the nation’s cleanest power plant. It generated electricity while using less water and natural gas than older designs.
A year ago, however, the $300-million plant closed indefinitely, just 15 years into an expected 30- to 40-year lifespan. The power it produces is no longer needed — in large part because state regulators approved the construction of a plant just 40 miles away in Colusa that opened in 2010.