The California Energy Commission gave the City of Riverside the green light to obtain local permits for a 95 MW power project February 25. The commission, which certifies power plants 100 MW and larger, granted the city a small power plant certification exemption after concluding it would not cause significant environmental impacts and falls below the 100 MW commission siting threshold.. The permits for the Riverside Energy Resources Center Units 3 & 4 will be based on environmental and engineering analyses detailed in a presiding member’s proposed decision released in late January If a power plant proposal is between 50MW and 100 MW, the commission can exempt it from its year-long review process. The commission, however, must find that a proposed plant would not significantly impact energy resources and/or the environment. The vote on the item was 3-0, with commission chair Karen Douglas on maternity leave. Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld was absent. It was the first meeting for commissioner Julia Levin, who was appointed to the body by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Feb. 5 to fill the spot vacated by outgoing commissioner Jackie Pfannenstiel. Levin, stricken by a case of laryngitis, spoke little. Additionally, the commission approved a $2.8 million contract for a San Diego Gas & Electric research project to demonstrate how smart grid technologies can support the integration and management of utility- and customer-based energy resources in an interconnected network. The research is to also evaluate daily network operations to ensure it can provide reliable and stable power to customers on and off peak periods. Also receiving unanimous approval was a contract for $400,000 with the State Water Project Contractors Authority for analysis and optimization of energy and water for storage and transport systems. The project is to develop methods and tools to analyze options for storage, conveyance, and power generation systems for water and energy efficiency in order to achieve energy conservation, increased power generation, integration of renewable resources, peak load reduction, and load shifting. During the meeting, the commission put off a decision on whether to approve a staff data adequacy recommendation for a 106 MW solar/biomass hybrid facility planned for the city of Coalinga in Fresno County. Project manager Lisa DeCarlo said the recommendation was based partially on the project not having a letter of completeness from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The matter was put off to the commission’s next meeting, scheduled for March 11. This allows the applicant, a subsidiary of Portugal-based Martifer Renewables Electricity, to do further work on air pollution control district compliance.