The California Energy Commission unanimously approved contracts with Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to enable the utilities to take over the day-to-day operations of the New Solar Homes Partnership within their service territories October 10. The CEC will continue to supervise management of the overall program, but the individual utilities will handle the application processing and call center activities for two years, beginning November 1. Edison and SDG&E are to be paid $280,000 each to provide the services, while PG&E’s claim is $440,000. CEC project manager Jim Folkman said PG&E will receive greater funding because it covers a larger territory. In addition, the northern California utility received 68 percent of all the project’s solar applications. The New Solar Homes Partnership is a 10-year, $400 million program to encourage solar in new home construction. The solar program specifically targets residential housing markets. Also at the meeting, the commission approved a $400,000 contract for the University of California, Riverside, to evaluate the performance of natural gas vehicles using various natural gas blends and associated air emissions. The money for the funding will come from Public Interest Energy Research natural gas funding, according to the CEC contract manager Marla Mueller. A final report on the evaluation is expected in about a year and a half, Mueller said. One item that had been on the meeting’s agenda–the possible adoption of a state plan to increase the use of alternative transportation fuels–was put off. The plan, which was in response to Assembly Bill 1007, aims to reduce petroleum use, curb greenhouse gases, and increase state biofuels production (see story below). It is now set be considered at a special commission business meeting scheduled for October 31. The special meeting takes the place of the commission’s regularly scheduled October 24 meeting, which was cancelled. Also held for a future–but as yet unspecified, meeting–was an item to consider approving a Revised Presiding Member’s Proposed Decision and Committee Revisions for Edison’s planned 500 MW simple-cycle Walnut Creek Energy Park in Los Angeles County.