Despite questioning the effect on consumers of a confluence of state energy plans, the California Public Utilities Commission Oct. 20 approved 4-to-1 a solar contract for Pacific Gas & Electric. Without policy and rate pressures, the North Star contract for a 60 MW photovoltaic installation near Mendota would likely have been rubber stamped. Almost all alternative power deals with utilities have been approved without discussion. However, this contract ignited policy discussion that affects several areas of the state\u2019s ongoing renewable energy principles--consumer price, renewables market stability, and contract secrecy. \u201cWe need stable, transparent, and predictable markets,\u201d said commissioner Catherine Sandoval. She endorsed the contract with reservations. Commission president Mike Peevey echoed her--only without reservations--saying there should be \u201creasonable certainty\u201d in California\u2019s renewable energy business climate. \u201cThe contract is simply not competitive,\u201d countered commissioner Mike Florio, the lone dissenter. \u201cIt may not be fair to North Star, but doubly unfair to ratepayers.\u201d The project was called out as more expensive than the going solar installation cost to ratepayers--but the public has no idea how much more expensive due to confidentiality restrictions on the contract. Concerned about \u201cunfairness\u201d if they turned down the contract--as well as that it would send a negative message about the state\u2019s \u201cbusiness climate\u201d--regulators voted for the remarkably \u201cexpensive\u201d contract. Yet, all of the commissioners expressed discomfort at the state\u2019s policy for a 33 percent renewables portfolio standard and that the multiple commission policies to enhance that transformation clash with concern about incessant rate hikes. Regulators found no resolution for the high cost of state strategies for consumers, but begged the question for further review. \u201cPublic sticker shock risks policy reversal,\u201d said commissioner Mark Ferron. In another attempt to clarify state policy, the commission opened a docket to explore resource adequacy. With more renewables required under state law--and their attendant fossil fuel generation support for the grid, as well as new storage needs to support alternative energy-&#045;the commission decided to update its five-year-old resource adequacy plan. Regulators noted that with new policies, including distributed generation, renewables auctions, combined heat and power tariffs, and rules on interconnecting new sources to the grid, that its 2006 program should be revisited.