San Diego Gas & Electric\u2019s plan to enter 415 MW worth of power purchase tolling agreements--in which it would supply natural gas to independent power producers and pay them only to turn it into electricity--is being slowed by the California Public Utilities Commission. CPUC president Mike Peevey agreed to examine whether the agreements with three independent energy producers are genuinely needed for the utility to meet its future local capacity requirement. Peevey\u2019s Jan. 18 ruling noted that many parties have called the utility\u2019s calculation showing the need for the agreements \u201cflawed.\u201d Division of Ratepayer Advocates attorney Candace Morey, for instance, stated that with the expected completion in 2013 of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line into San Diego, the only thing the utility can point to demonstrating its need is the projected closure of local coastal power plants. A 300 MW project by Capitol Power, plus large solar rooftop units planned in the area, already could meet the need, she added. \u201cThese plants are not necessary,\u201d said Michael Shames, Utility Consumers\u2019 Action Network executive director. The Network pointed out in testimony filed with the commission that SDG&E likely is undercounting how much energy it can save through demand-response programs during peak demand periods and energy efficiency measures too. SDG&E wants the commission to approve the agreements for 45 MW of power from the existing Escondido Energy Center, as well as 305 MW and 100 MW, respectively, from the Pio Pico Energy Center and Quail Brush Energy Project, which have construction licenses pending before the California Energy Commission. The two in the licensing process are slated to open in 2014. The power purchase contracts would run 20 years or more. Also at issue in the proceeding, is whether direct access customers would have to contribute toward the cost of the contracts, as well as bundled ratepayers. SDG&E maintains that because the facilities will help support grid reliability, direct access customers should pay. The Western Power Trading Forum, Alliance for Retail Energy Markets, and Direct Access Customer Coalition oppose the utility\u2019s plan, claiming that the utility\u2019s plan may be overkill. They maintain SDG&E already closed much of the local capacity gap under other contracts. The groups asked the commission to vet the utility\u2019s contention. \u201cWe are protesting having the cost of these resources being allocated to all customers rather than simply to SDG&E\u2019s bundled service customers,\u201d said Dan Douglass, attorney for the trade groups.