CEC Refuses PG&E’s Tesla Plant

By Published On: September 25, 2009

The California Energy Commission this week refused to extend for five years a license for Pacific Gas & Electric to build its proposed Tesla Power Plant, effectively killing the project. “PG&E has failed to show good cause [for an extension],” commissioner Jeff Byron said. “We should not make a mockery of our extension program as a result.” PG&E was seeking an extension to June 16, 2014, to construct Tesla. Originally proposed as a 1,120 MW facility in eastern Alameda County in 2001, the project was eventually scaled back to a 560 MW proposal. However, PG&E eventually suspended pursuit of the project after state regulators made it clear the project clashed with the hybrid-market mix of utility-owned and independent generator-owned power plants. The original five-year license to build expired earlier this year, but in June the commission granted a 90-day extension while it considered whether to grant another full five-year license. On September 9, an additional 30-day extension on the matter was issued while commission staff analyzed whether to recommend another five-year license. But at the September 23 meeting, staff’s answer was a definite ‘no.’ PG&E had no good cause for an extension, according to the commission staff’s proposed written decision. One of the reasons for rejecting the extension was that the proposed project had changed significantly from the plan that was originally submitted five years ago, but PG&E counsel Scott Galati argued that the changes weren’t enough to warrant rejecting a license extension. “We disagree with both the result [of the staff analysis] and the rationale,” he said. But in the end, he did not sway the commission, which voted unanimously against the license extension request. Also during the meeting, the commission approved a data adequacy recommendation for the Contra Costa Generating Station, a nominal 624 MW natural gas-fired, combined-cycle facility that would be situated in eastern Contra Costa County. The project’s June 30 application for certification was found data inadequate in five of 23 areas at the time, but supplemental paperwork was later filed addressing the issues. Another energy project discussed at the meeting, however, failed to meet approval. The proposal for the Abengoa Mojave Solar Project, a proposed 250 MW solar facility, was found data inadequate in nine areas and sent back to the drawing board by the commission. The project, which would utilize parabolic trough technology, would be located on about 1,765 acres of privately-owned land in unincorporated San Bernardino County, about 14 miles west of Barstow in the Mojave Desert. The applicant, Abengoa Solar Inc., said that it intends to submit new paperwork soon to address concerns with the application.

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