- NRG Energy has asked the California Energy Commission to suspend its application for the proposed Puente gas plant for six months, while the company and Southern California Edison determine if preferred resources could replace the 262 MW project.
- NRG asked the CEC last month to end hearings over its proposal as it reviewed whether or not to withdraw its application.
- The company's actions likely mean the plant is cancelled, but NRG says the delay is intended to allow time to issue a request for offers (RFO) for storage and renewables as alternatives to the plant before a final decision.
The new plant was close to approval when a CEC committee assigned to evaluate it recommended against construction. The committee recommending against the Puente Plant said it was "inconsistent" with California law and policy and would "create significant unmitigable environmental effects."
Greentech Media notes there are already three plants, several oil fields and other polluting sites and installations on the same region of California's coast where Puente was planned. And a Los Angeles Times op-ed noted the suspended application could signal that the Puente plant will never get built and, in fact, may herald a shift in how the state measures and addresses its need for electricity."
However, a request for offers for preferred resources must first show that the plant's energy could be effectively replaced by non-emitting sources. As NRG wrote in its request to suspend the application, "the results of the RFO are necessary to determine the feasibility of preferred resources as an alternative to the project."
The state grid operator had agreed to examine alternatives to the plant earlier this summer after pressure from lawmakers and a Los Angeles Times report that suggested California was overbuilding natural gas plants. Clean energy and green groups urged regulators and lawmakers to instead pivot to solar, efficiency and storage as a more cost-effective way to meet power needs and reduce emissions.
The grid operator released a report in August, noting three clean energy alternatives could cost between $309 million and $1.1 billion. CAISO also urged less fossil usage and more renewable energy, including additional distributed generation and rise in regional sharing of resources.