California PUC judge rejects gas plant contract, tells SDG&E to seek clean energy instead
- An administrative law judge has recommended that regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reject San Diego Gas & Electric's (SDG&E) bid to purchase power from the natural gas-fired Carlsbad Energy Center, the LA Times reports.
- Instead, the judge directed the utility to seek more preferred resources, such as renewables, storage, energy efficiency and demand response.
- The utility had sought approval to purchase power from the facility to replace output at the retired San Onofre nuclear plant. NRG Energy had proposed to retrofit the 1950s-era facility, turning it into a more modern gas facility.
The decision may be a sign of what's to come from a post-Peevey CPUC.
The administrative law judge's recommendation was hailed by environmentalists as a surprise victory — and a promising sign that a turnaround is underway at the CPUC, which has recently been plagued by scandal.
The commission is under new leadership after the departure of embattled President Michael Peevey. New CPUC President Michael Picker took the helm earlier this year and has vowed "to be as open and transparent as the law allows, and to ensure a fair and just process for decision-making."
While the full commission will still vote on the proposal, the Sierra Club said it hopes regulators are beginning to act more in line with customer demands.
"This is a huge reversal of what we thought would happen," Sierra Club lawyer Matt Vespa told the LA Times.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter