After multiple vote delays on a decision about the Quail Brush Power Plant project the California Public Utility Comission (CPUC) is holding a public hearing on the matter in San Diego this week.
The CPUC is due to hold the public hearing at the Al Bahr Shriners Memorial Auditorium, 5440 Kearny Mesa Rd, at 6 p.m. on Friday. Opponents to the project are holding a rally starting at 5:15 p.m. in the parking lot of the meeting spot.
Two draft decisions released by the CPUC in November suggest that the commission won't approve the 20-year power purchase agreement lined up by San Diego Gas & Electric and Cogentrix in anticipation of future regional energy needs.
The decision isn't final until the CPUC votes on the issue, and draft decisions can still be amended. According to CPUC records, Cogentrix met with CPUC officials in private in early December, and since then the vote to finalize the decision has been delayed at least twice.
The two commissioners that wrote the draft decisions found that the application for the new plant came too soon, as there will not be a local energy capacity requirement need until at least 2018. Neither commissioner ruled out the possibility that a renewed application for Quail Brush could be approved at a later date.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) is still considering the Quail Brush licensing application.
"If the CPUC denies the power tolling agreements, the applicant for the proposed Quail Brush Generating Project may reconsider whether to proceed with the siting case, but the decision would be strictly the applicant’s," CEC Information Officer Sandy Louey wrote in an email.
"The CEC siting process does not require a project applicant to have either a power purchase agreement or power tolling agreement for a project to be licensed."
According to the CEC, Quail Brush could seek another buyer for the power.
"They won't build it now if they can't sell the power," wrote Van Collinsworth, a vocal oppenent to the project and Resource Analyst/Executive Director for Preserve Wild Santee.
The San Diego Planning Commission and City Council previously voted to deny zoning changes for the plant and the project has also faced opposition by the City of Santee, numerous environmental organizations, school districts, and grassroots efforts. In December the San Diego City Council upgraded land surrounding the proposed plant site to "dedicated open space."
"The action by the SD City Council is significant for the CEC because Public Resources Code Chapter 6, Section 25527 does not allow them to site an 'inconsistent' power plant within '...areas for wildlife protection, recreation...' Section 25527 is state law that the CEC must observe. There is no CEC override possible for this state law," Collinsworth wrote in an email.
Look back to Santee Patch for a report on Friday's meeting.