SoCal Edison's new alternative energy plan could be 'nail in coffin' for Puente gas plant
- Southern California Edison has filed a procurement plan for local capacity requirements in its Moorpark sub-area, identifying a new transmission solution that would reduce requirements from 308 MW to 76 MW. The utility is also seeking energy storage and clean energy alternatives as well.
- Facing a much smaller capacity shortfall, SCE said it would also seek bids for gas-fired generation up to 55 MW for the Goleta area, but will show a "strong preference" for alternative energy resources. Environmental advocates say SCE's move could be the end of the proposed Puente Gas plant.
- NRG Energy had already asked the California Energy Commission to suspend its application for the proposed 262 MW Puente gas plant, while it worked with SCE to determine if preferred resources could be used instead.
California has been increasingly focused on using renewable energy and storage to meet reliability needs, while gas-fired generation faces increased regulatory scrutiny after a Los Angeles Times investigation suggesting the state was overbuilding the resource. SCE's proposed transmission line and procurement plan could avoid developing new gas capacity.
Matt Vespa, an attorney for Earthjustice, said in a statement that by identifying low-cost transmission solutions and only considering clean energy resources in Oxnard, the utility's procurement plan "is the nail in the coffin for the Puente power plant project," and will give the community cleaner air and lower electricity bills.
Vespa said the group was urging the California ISO, the state's grid operator, to approve SCE's plan.
"It's time for clean energy options for Oxnard, rather than an ill-conceived gas plant that would pollute for decades," he said.
SCE's plan is not all carbon-free: it also proposes to accept gas-fired bids up to 55 MW in the Goleta area. The utility wants to address a localized reliability issue in case transmission towers going into Goleta/Santa Barbara went offline.
Earthjustice said it would follow the procurement process, however, "to ensure clean energy bids are fully considered to meet the localized need in the Goleta area."
The Puente plant had been nearing approval when a California Energy Commission committee recommended against construction, concluding it was "inconsistent" with California law and policy and would "create significant unmitigable environmental effects." Also earlier this year, CAISO agreed to study alternatives to the plant and urged less fossil usage and more renewable energy across the state, including additional distributed generation and rise in regional sharing of resources.
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