CEC Questions Oakley Project

By Published On: December 10, 2010

Pacific Gas & Electric’s uphill battle to own the 624 MW Oakley power project in Contra Costa County faced another setback this week The California Energy Commission is challenging a regional air quality district’s preliminary determination of compliance issued to the project. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued its preliminary determination of compliance for Oakley on Oct. 29, but the Energy Commission finds it deficient, complicating PG&E’s ongoing effort to take over the project. Last July, the California Pubic Utilities Commission rejected rate recovery for PG&E’s investment in Oakley, concluding it was unnecessary. PG&E is seeking to reverse that decision. Meanwhile, the air quality matter turns on a requirement for emissions reduction credits; the transition from commissioning the plant to routine operation; and the requirement of an ammonia emissions monitor. Commission staff revealed the issues at a Dec. 7 status conference at which it updated the commission’s siting committee for the project and stakeholders and other interested parties on the progress of the certification process. According to the commission, it would be “difficult or impossible” for CEC staff to determine whether the facility is likely to conform to applicable laws and regulations without additional information included in the air quality agency’s determination. It “does not show which emission reduction credits would be used to satisfy (state) requirements … for offsets,” according to the commission’s report. Regarding transitioning into routine operation, CEC staff wrote that “commissioning without abatement devices would be limited to 831 hours combined. However, for the applicant’s proposed additional 1,725 hours of commissioning with abatement, it is not clear whether all normal operating limits become applicable.” The Energy Commission suggested to the air agency in a letter earlier this month that an emissions monitor requirement for ammonia be added. The proposed Oakley Generating Station natural-gas-fired power plant would be a subsidiary of Radback Energy and sold to PG&E. The project is currently under review at the Energy Commission. Regulators at the CPUC could go one of two directions on PG&E’s proposed $1.25 billion Oakley facility. On their agenda next week is an administrative law judge decision to deny PG&E’s quest to build the power plant. An alternative offered by commissioner John Bohn would grant the utility’s plan to build the plant--with the caveat that no ratepayer funds could be spent on the new facility before 2016.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now