Commission allows repowering of Escondido plant
“Today’s rejection of Quail Brush is not only a victory for the environment. It’s a victory for our community. It sends a message that San Diego County shouldn’t rely on old-school, power plant technology and that we can accelerate our efforts to develop renewable, cleaner forms of energy, like rooftop solar and fuel cells.”—Supervisor Dianne Jacob
March 21, 2013 (San Diego) – Before a packed audience in San Diego today, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously denied SDG&E’s requests to build Quail Brush and Pio Pico, gas-powered peaker plants near Mission Trails Regional Park and in Otay Mesa. The Commission did, however, authorize repowering of an existing but idle gas plant in Escondido.
"At present, the evidence supporting the need for Pio Pico and Quail Brush is inconclusive and SDG&E's customers should not be made to pay until it is conclusive,” Commissioner Mike Floria said.
CPUC president Michael Peevey left the door open, however. "If SDG&E is able to amend the contracts we declined and bring them back to us, we will consider them," Peevey said. "San Diego is going to need plants with flexible operating qualities in the very near future.”
Peevey has been accused of conflicts of interest and back-room dealings with utility companies. A lawsuit challenging a closed-door meeting with energy industry stakeholders (excluding environmentalists, press and public) is currently on appeal.
The decision was hailed by Pete Hasapopoulos with the San Diego Sierra Club. “We’re proud of all the citizen fighters,” he stated in a post at San Diego Free Press.
He noted that the CPUC gave SDG&E an option to amend its application so that if a certain amount of megawatts comes online to coincide with new energy needs estimated in 2018. But he noted, “Sierra Club and others dispute this estimated energy need.”
Commissioner Florio noted that project opponents have a fewa years to demonstrate that energy efficiency and rooftop/lot solar, along with potentially other measures, can remove the projected need for more power in 2018.
“Will they truly factor energy efficiency and rooftop solar growth or simply ramrod this through as we know President Peevey would like?” he asked. “Sierra Club and others will be all over this when SDG&E comes back.” Those interested in joining the effort may visit www.runwithsun.org.
Mayor Bob Filner and State Senator Marty Block’s representative spoke against all three proposed gas plants. Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts, along with SANDAG Chair/Santee Councilman Jack Dale, spoke against Quail Brush.
Supervisor Greg Cox and State Senator-elect Ben Hueso sent representatives who spoke in favor of SDG&E.
Supervisor Jacob issued a statement hailing the decision. “Today’s rejection of Quail Brush is not only a victory for the environment. It’s a victory for our community. It sends a message that San Diego County shouldn’t rely on old-school, power plant technology and that we can accelerate our efforts to develop renewable, cleaner forms of energy, like rooftop solar and fuel cells.”
“Now is the time to introduce a San Diego Community Energy District that can accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean distributed local power that creates jobs and keeps energy dollars circulating locally,” said Van Collinsworth with Preserve Wild Santee, an intervenor who has sought to block Quail Brush. “We look forward to supporting Mayor Bob Filners’s plans to make San Diego a clean distributed energy standout in California and the nation – action that is less obstructed thanks to today’s CPUC Decision."