Renewable energy projects up to 20 MW in size are now eligible to bid for power sales agreements with the state\u2019s investor-owned utilities through a competitive process. A California Public Utilities Commission decision, approved Dec. 16, orders utilities to hold competitive auctions twice a year until they have purchased a statewide total of 1,000 MW of power capacity from the small renewable energy project developers. \u201cProjects in this size range can play an important role in the renewables portfolio standard program,\u201d said CPUC president Mike Peevey. They can be built on brownfields and other sites within utility service areas, he said, to reduce the need for \u201cmassive transmission projects.\u201d Under the so-called renewable auction mechanism decision, utilities are to reach 25 percent of their assigned total capacities in each auction, entering contracts with the lowest bidders. Projects must qualify under the state\u2019s renewables portfolio standard. In the auction, small renewables developers must agree to specifics, including forfeitable performance deposits and an 18-month period in which to complete construction and begin delivering power. They also cannot seek to reopen contracts to negotiate higher payments for their energy output once deals are closed. Commissioner Tim Simon praised the provisions, saying they would bring \u201cmuch needed market discipline into the process\u201d in the state\u2019s sometimes \u201creligious pursuit\u201d of renewable energy at any cost. The CPUC\u2019s decision calls on Southern California Edison to procure 498 MW of power through the auction process, Pacific Gas & Electric 421 MW, and San Diego Gas & Electric 81 MW. Except for the price utilities pay, contracts for the power are to have generally standard terms. Regulators\u2019 decision follows an earlier order in 2007 calling for tariffs and standard contracts aimed at getting utilities to enter power purchase agreements with developers of projects with capacities of up to 1.5 MW under the state\u2019s renewables portfolio standard program.