California Public Utilities Judge Proposes To Deny Approval for Large Gas Plant in Carlsbad, CA
In replacing San Onofre Nuclear plant, state failed to consider clean energy and energy efficiency
Today, an Administrative Law Judge at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a proposed decision rejecting San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) proposal to build a $2 billion gas plant, known as Carlsbad. The plant would partially replace the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The proposed 600 megawatt (MW) plant was opposed by a variety of groups, including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), as it was moving through the approval process before clean energy alternatives were considered.
The proposed decision denies SDG&E’s application to enter into a purchase purchase agreement with Carlsbad Energy Center, LLC. It also stated that “… SDG&E’s RFO (request for offers) has produced a robust number of offers for preferred resources and energy storage which could potentially meet some, if not all, of the 300 MW to 600 MW of SDG&E’s … need.”
The groups are hopeful that the CPUC will reject the full proposal after today’s decision. A final vote on this project is expected to come as early as next month. For more background, please see Matt Vespa’s blog on the issue.
Matt Vespa, Senior Staff Attorney, with the Sierra Club issued the following statement:
“From the beginning, we knew that 100 percent of San Onofre could be replaced with clean energy. The decision recognizes that clean energy is a viable option and must be allowed to compete against dirty fossil fuels. Looking ahead, we still need Commissioner Picker and the CPUC to uphold the decision. This is an opportunity for the Commission to regain public trust during a time when they have shown favoritism to utilities.”
Kayla Race, Policy Advocate, with the Environmental Health Coalition and member of CEJA, issued the following statement:
“The Commission’s proposal is great news for San Diegans who want to breathe cleaner air, reduce the harmful impacts of climate change, grow our clean energy industry, and manage to pay their energy bills. It’s too bad the Commission didn’t have that same foresight when it approved the dirty and expensive Pio Pico power plant in Otay Mesa, a low-income community of color that’s already overburdened with air pollution and the resulting health problems. We hope the Commission and SDG&E will ensure disadvantaged communities directly benefit from the clean energy and jobs that result from this new decision.”
Tamara Zakim, Associate Attorney with Earthjustice, issued the following statement:
“The proposed decision is about common sense and smart energy planning. California needs to consider and utilize its plentiful renewable energy options before it builds dirty new power plants that contribute to climate change. The closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station in southern California gives the state an important opportunity to do things right by addressing climate change and filling its energy needs with clean power.”
When SONGS retired, SDG&E was directed to replace the shuttered plant with at least 200 megawatts (MW) from clean energy resources and between 300–600 MW from “any resource,” which could include gas or clean energy. With regard to 300–600 MW of energy need, the decision required SDG&E to issue an all-source request for offers (RFO)—a procurement process that accepts and evaluates bids from all energy types—to meet some or all of this need. SDG&E was also directed to follow state policy that requires feasible and cost-effective clean energy resources be considered before resorting to gas. By requesting approval for the Carlsbad plant, SDG&E made a mockery of the requirements and did not provide a level playing field for cost effective, clean energy resources to compete.
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