The California Energy Commission on September 24 unanimously rejected two petitions related to the groundbreaking deadline for Pacific Gas & Electric\u2019s Russell City Energy Center. The utility aimed to postpone the project due to financing setbacks. Californians for Renewable Energy, the Hayward Area Planning Association, Citizens Against Pollution, and others sought to have the commission reconsider its July 30 ruling that extended the September 10 deadline for the start of the energy center\u2019s construction by two years. The 600 MW facility was initially approved for licensing by the energy commission in September 2002. The facility now is expected to be finished by summer of 2012, according to project manager Jonathan Blees. At the same meeting, the energy commission unanimously approved the licensing of the proposed 156 MW Humboldt Bay \u201cRepowering\u201d Project. The facility, on the grounds of a shut down 63 MW nuclear power plant and two fossil plants, would be a duel fuel site. The new plant, slated for 5.4 acres within a 143-acre parcel south of Eureka on the bay, would be 33 percent more efficient than the current facility, according to project manager Gary Fay. The facility would rely on diesel when the natural gas supply for power generation is occasionally curtailed during the winter, Fay said. The remote North Coast area is short on transmission to bring in power from the outside. Also at this week\u2019s meeting, the commission unanimously voted to approve a data adequacy recommendation for Mirant\u2019s application for the Marsh Landing Generating Station. \u201cAdequacy\u201d in these terms means that requisite project certification can proceed. Project manager Mike Monasmith said that construction of the 930 MW facility, which is to be located on a 27-acre industrial site, is expected to take 33 months and cost $83 million. The commission also approved a nearly $3 million interagency agreement with the Department of Fish & Game to demonstrate an environmental analysis tool for renewable energy siting. The project will use the Desert Natural Communities Conservation Plan process to test Planning Alternative Corridors for Transmission, a tool designed to provide a method to compare the environmental and engineering merits of alternative energy facility sites. \u201cIt has not been used yet in a real-world case,\u201d commission staffer Linda Spiegel said of the analysis instrument. \u201cWe feel this is a perfect opportunity to test and validate the tool.\u201d Also receiving unanimous approval from the commission was a $1.58 million contract with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for the first phase of research to explore the installation of a microgrid\/smartgrid at SMUD headquarters. The first phase of the project involves design, test plan development, and outreach. After the results are examined, the Energy Commission could approve a second phase, including installation and demonstration of the 310 kW base load grid, which would have a 375 kW peak load capability.