New 500 megawatt gas power plant to be sited next to Carlsbad's Encina Power Station
Plans to build a controversial new gas power plant in Carlsbad are moving forward, after the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday (November 6) refused to consider a petition from the Sierra Club to reconsider an approval granted in May.
San Diego Gas & Electric and Texas-based NRG Energy initially planned to build a 600-megawatt natural gas plant to replace a portion of the generation capacity lost when San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's steam generators failed prematurely. Environmental activists cried foul, noting that just 200 megawatts of a total 800-megawatt allotment would be left for developing greener technology.
Facing a recommended rejection of the project, public utilities commission president Michael Picker stepped in with an alternate proposal, downsizing to a 500-megawatt facility consisting of about 63 percent of SDG&E's total new generation allotment. That plan passed on a 4-1 vote, which was reaffirmed last week.
"The action by the CPUC to deny rehearing only reaffirms a flawed decision that improperly kept clean energy from competing to meet San Diego's energy needs," says Sierra Club counsel Matt Vespa in a release issued November 9 lamenting the denial. "By allowing this gas plant to be built, we are stifling San Diego's clean energy potential, job growth, and ambitious efforts to reduce pollution that exacerbates health issues and climate change. With Governor Brown touting California’s ambitious new greenhouse gas goals to the international community, back at home the CPUC continues to direct billions of dollars toward outdated energy sources and undermine our state’s clean energy future."
The group has said it plans to file an appeal of the decision within the next month.