The California Energy Commission approved 23 grants and contracts totaling close to $90 million this week. Also getting the green light June 30 were planned improvements to a Los Angeles area power plant. The power project amendments at issue were for the El Segundo Power Generating Station. They include new rapid response combined cycle technology that eliminates the need for once-through cooling and wastewater discharge to the ocean or to a publicly operated treatment works. This 630 MW project would see its nominal capacity drop to 560 MW under the planned changes. Other planned improvements include modification of the plant entrance road to allow for oversized equipment delivery and better plant access, commission project manager Joseph Douglas said. Of the contracts the commission agreed to fund, the largest amount was for a $34 million pact with the California Pollution Control Financing Authority. Under the agreement, the Energy Commission is set to provide financial services for alternative and renewable fuel and vehicle technology projects through the authority’s California Capital Access Program, or CalCAP, said commission program manager Larry Rillera. CalCAP is a form of loan portfolio insurance which may provide up to 100 percent coverage on certain loan defaults. This encourages financial institutions to make loans to small businesses that fall outside most banks’ underwriting standards for alternative energy projects. Also approved was a $3 million contract with San Diego County for the design and implementation of a regional residential building retrofit program. The county expects to partner with the California Center for Sustainable Energy and other entities to develop tools and practices to reduce energy use and carbon emissions as well as create jobs in the realm of residential retrofits, according to Devorah Eden, CEC building and appliances energy specialist. The largest grant approved was $9.3 million to the San Bernardino Associated Governments for the purchase of about 200 heavy-duty natural gas trucks and two public liquefied natural gas fueling stations in San Bernardino and Orange County. According to commission staff, as of June 30, 100 percent of the block grant funds that had been issued to the Energy Commission under the federal stimulus act have now been encumbered. The stimulus act was signed into law by President Obama in February 2009.