The California Energy Commission agreed to transfer $10 million to the booming rooftop solar energy system buy-down program to keep it alive. Another $6.5 million in funding and loans for alternative energy projects won unanimous votes from the four commissioners at their April 9 business meeting. The CEC gave the go-ahead to the proposed transfer of $10 million in interest accumulated in the Renewable Resources Trust Funds to replenish the Emerging Renewables Account because the money was being drained more quickly than anticipated. The emerging renewables pot is used to reduce the cost of small photovoltaic systems?less than 30 kW?for small businesses and residences. A commission committee decided to postpone a vote on Duke Energy?s Morro Bay repowering certification. The committee hoped to issue a second revised draft decision on the 1,200 MW modernization project well in advance of the April 21 business meeting. The tentative plan, released just before press time, recommends approving the wet-cooled project but did not make the cutoff date for the late-April meeting. A vote by the full commission was rescheduled for May 5 to allow for the 15-day public comment period. Siting of the old Pacific Gas & Electric facility upgrade has floundered because of Duke?s financial difficulties, as well as opposition to continued use of once-through cooling at the plant, which sits on an estuary. CEC members also voted 4-0 to reconsider their decision to exempt the 95 MW Modesto Irrigation District plant from the agency?s permitting process. In early February, the CEC found the project would not have significant environmental impacts but decided to reassess the matter at the request of a member of the public. The project is fully permitted at the local level, and it is doubtful that a petition for reconsideration applies to small power plant exemptions, said CEC chief counsel Bill Chamberlain. The commissioners granted reconsideration to acknowledge the concerns of the petitioner, who could not attend the rescheduled meeting originally set for April 7. A hearing is set for May 5. A few days later, another committee recommended that the Kings River Conservation District?s 95 MW peaker project to be sited in Fresno be exempted from CEC review. The proposed decision, released April 15, concluded the project would not have significant environmental impacts. Back at the meeting, a $2.6 million loan to Alameda County for a 1,112 kW PV system to be sited at county facilities also won a unanimous vote from CEC members. The project, which would be the largest photovoltaic system to come on line, is estimated to save about $246,000 a year in energy costs. The University of California at Davis won a $996,000 agreement for a biogas energy project that will process three tons of agricultural and food waste a day to produce 20 kW. It is expected to use less energy than other biogas facilities while producing higher amounts of methane gas. A $2.4 million contract with the California State University System Foundation to fund student interns working at the CEC in a variety of capacities also received approval. The CEC ratified a $500,000 authorization from the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program to co-fund a sole-source contract for a 4.6 MW turbine expected to be highly efficient and low polluting. A San Diego Veterans Administration hospital will install the so-called Mercury 50 turbine built by Solar Turbines Inc. Commissioner Jim Boyd was quick to point out that the turbine was not a solar device, in spite of the company?s name, and did not contain mercury. A $347,000 contract from the PIER program was awarded to the University of California to improve the efficiency of air conditioning ducts and assess the effectiveness of cool rooftops. The CEC also approved the 2003 Net System Power Report required by legislation, which is used to describe power content labels. Commissioner John Geesman pointed out that gross system power numbers, which also break down percentages of the brown and green power supplies, were of far greater interest and use to the public than the net power formula required under SB 1305.