Two draft decisions released last week suggest that Quail Brush Power Plant won't be given the green light for construction in the hills adjacent to Mission Trails and Santee.
Two members of the California Public Utilities Commission, the group charged with final approval decisions for the power plant, released proposed rulings (see attached PDFs) which deny the construction of the natural gas powered Quail Brush Generation Project.
The decision isn't final until the CPUC votes on the issue, and draft decisions can still be amended. The final vote has yet to be scheduled, but is at least a month away.
If either of these drafts are voted in, it would put a stop to the 20-year power purchase agreement lined up by San Diego Gas & Electric and Quail Brush in anticipation of future regional energy needs.
Both commissioners 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, despite the nearly year-long outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Neither commissioner ruled out the possibility that a renewed application for Quail Brush could be approved at a later date.
Jeff Kahn with Save Mission Trails, a group that has been at the forefront of the fight against the plant, told East County Magazine that they were encouraged by the statement, but would continue to inform the community about the project proposed on the doorstep of San Diego's largest urban park.
In the draft decision by California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron, he wrote:
"This decision denies authority to enter into purchase power tolling agreements with Pio Pico Energy Center and Quail Brush Power."
In arguments for the Quail Brush Project it had been suggested that the "peaker plant" was needed to fill in gaps of energy production from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Ferron rejected this argument, and said the commission has no evidence that further energy sources were needed to "support renewable resources integration."
These draft decisions come after the San Diego Planning Commission and City Council voted to deny zoning changes for the plant and amidst opposition by the City of Santee, numerous environmental organizations, school districts, and grassroots efforts.
Though the California Energy Commission is still considering the Quail Brush application, the power purchase agreement with SDG&E won't be valid without approval by the CPUC.