Matthew Lickona 2:43 p.m., June 19
The fix may be in on Pio Pico power plant
Clearly conflicted CPUC commissioner changes her mind, decides to vote
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) is pushing for three gas-fired power plants: Quail Brush, near Mission Trails Regional Park; Pio Pico in the Otay area, and the Wellhead Escondido Energy Center. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) delayed two votes but now appears ready to vote Feb. 28. Bill Powers of Powers Engineering says that the Escondido project will not stir up major controversy, and Quail Brush, which has enraged the public, appears moribund. But Pio Pico is still on the table, and the Feb. 28 meeting will be devoted to it.
"There has been a full-court press by SDGE and the usual suspects over the last two months [at] the CPUC and the governor's office to approve Pio Pico," says Powers. "This proceeding now has the air of 'the fix is in' to it."
In December, Carla Peterman was named a commissioner of the CPUC. Earlier, she had been on the California Energy Commission (CEC). At the CEC, she was the lead commissioner in a September 2012 report stating that Pio Pico was necessary. "She was the lead commissioner on the environmental certification of Pio Pico by the CEC," says Powers, noting that determining whether the project is needed is outside of CEC's mandate.
Initially, Peterman agreed she should note vote on the Pio Pico matter. But just recently, she has changed her position because of "evolving legal advice," according to her chief of staff. "She has been cleared to vote." Hmmm. This sounds like the typical CPUC anti-consumer, anti-ratepayer, anti-environment con game. CPUC specializes in last minute switches that are buried in documents, such as the one Peterman's predecessor, Timothy Alan Simon, tried to pull in SDGE's attempt to get ratepayers to pick up the tab for uninsured costs of fires for which the utility was found responsible.