- As SDG&E's Pio Pico Energy Center is about to go online outside San Diego, new questions are being raised about its approval process at the California Public Utilities Commission under the leadership of former President Michael Peevey.
- Consumer advocates who opposed Pio Pico say Peevey controlled the natural gas facility’s approval in a way similar to how he blocked fines for Pacific Gas & Electric after the San Bruno pipeline explosion in 2008 and how he slowed allocation to Southern California Edison of costs for the San Onofre nuclear plant closure. They point to emails that show Peevey regularly dined with SDG&E executives in the months leading up to the CPUC decision, U-T San Diego reports.
- Peevey, who stepped down in December, is under federal and state investigation for allegedly improper relationships with executives at PG&E. He joined the initial 5-0 vote to postpone the plant until 2018. After the shuttering of the San Onfre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), he assigned himself to lead a reconsideration of Pio Pico and won 5-0 approval for it in 2014.
The 305 MW Pio Pico Energy Center is, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC) website, a simple-cycle natural gas facility with three GE turbines. Such turbines are effective at providing base load power but do not ramp fast enough to work effectively in support of variable generation such as wind and solar energies.
The California Supreme Court rejected consideration of an appeal of the CPUC decision on Pio Pico by San Diego environmentalists. Evidence submitted for the appeal showed Peevey got CEC Chair Robert Weisenmiller to influence other commissioners to approve the $1.6 billion Pio Pico power purchase agreement.
Sempra Energy subsidiaries SDG&E and Southern California Gas recently proposed a $585 million pipeline project to support Pio Pico and other natural gas facilities in the San Diego area.