CEC Approves Muni and Power Project Rule Changes

By Published On: March 2, 2007

The California Energy Commission unanimously adopted amendments to its rules setting financial reporting parameters for public power agencies. It also promulgated guidelines governing power project siting at its February 28 meeting. Changes to the price forecasting data forms and instructions for the public power agencies submitted to the commission were approved after the agency agreed to look into consolidating reporting requirements. The Energy Commission will use the financial information provided by the munis “to understand key drivers of the publicly owned utilities’ future electricity costs” for the commission’s upcoming 10-year forecast incorporated into its 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report, said Mignon Marks, CEC analyst. California Municipal Utilities Association executive director Jerry Jordan complained that some of the financial information sought was unavailable and involved an inordinate amount of detail and/or duplicated other reporting requirements. Jordan added that public power agencies are run largely by city councils and that it was not possible to project the rate level a future council might approve several years down the road. Munis also submit reports on their resource-adequacy and energy-efficiency programs. CEC executive director B.B. Blevins said staff will attempt to consider various reporting data cycles and assess areas of overlap. He agreed to report back to the commission in two months on possible areas of consolidation. Also approved were revisions to the rules on the practice and procedure in power plant siting certifications. The amendments were fairly noncontroversial, but the city of Huntington Beach sought to include a prohibition on siting power projects in heavily polluted communities – ones that exceed health-based standards. The city’s request was rejected because it involved a policy matter “not germane to rulemaking nor received in timely manner,” said James Reede, energy commission project manager. Commissioners also voted to work collaboratively with the California Public Utilities Commission to develop a greenhouse gas emissions cap for the electricity sector. The sister agencies plan to develop recommendations and submit them to the California Air Resources Board, which has final say on rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions under state law. In other news, the commission approved two contracts. The commissioners signed off on a $450,000 contract with the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for technical oversight of data collection on geothermal resources. The contract was approved to further technological advances in geothermal energy and because California is the largest geothermal energy producer in the U.S. “All of these increase the need for strong technical leadership” at the state level, said CEC Public Interest Energy Research program manager William Glassley. A $75,000 contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor two commission projects was approved. Those involve new technology that aims to identify the source of atmospheric methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Because unproven new technology is involved, an independent evaluation is seen as critical.

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