FERC OKs Odd Edison Arrangement

By Published On: March 28, 2005

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week rejected Calpine?s challenge to Southern California Edison?s Mountainview power plant. Edison spokesperson Gil Alexander said the approval leaves the 1,054 MW gas-fired combined-cycle plant on track to open in the first quarter of 2006 in Redlands. ?We?re pleased that FERC accepted in its entirety our compliance filing for the Mountainview power-purchase agreement,? he said. The plant is owned by Mountainview LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Edison. Critics said the utility will likely buy output from its subsidiary, even if the power from that plant costs more than juice from an independent generator. ?Mountainview?s costs saddle us all with an unnecessarily high price for power,? stated Calpine vice-president Curt Hildebrand. ?Mountainview, as currently structured, will continue to burden California ratepayers with higher power costs compared to our neighboring states.? Alexander responded that the deal was economical even if it was not put out to bid. He pointed to a statement from The Utility Reform Network in which the consumer watchdog concluded that the Mountainview deal would lead to lower-cost power than either Palomar or Otay Mesa. Both are independently built power plants in Southern California. The FERC decision, however, was not entirely in Edison?s favor. Last October, the commission approved most of the Mountainview deal but required the utility to come back with changes to exclude ?the cost of claims by former Edison employees? from its Prior Claims provision. FERC turned the utility down in its quest to reconsider that provision. Separately, FERC once again rebuffed fishers who questioned the relicensing of Pacific Gas & Electric?s DeSabla-Centerville Project on the West Branch Feather River and Butte Creek in Butte County. Advocates have worried about the 25 MW dam since 2002, when a large number of spring-run Chinook salmon died below the dam. After another die-off in 2003, the advocates asked FERC to require a full environmental impact statement as part of regular relicensing proceedings. FERC first denied them last August, as the commission found that PG&E had worked with the National Marine Fisheries Service to mitigate any problems with its dam. A technical appeal for a rehearing was rejected Tuesday.

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