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California utility regulators reject proposals for two natural gas-fired power plants

The California Public Utilities Commission rejected plans to build two natural gas-fired power plants, saying the region must come up with cleaner alternatives quickly, according to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The commission rejected plans for the 300 MW Pio Pico Energy Center and the 100 MW Quail Brush power plant, which combined would have cost San Diego Gas & Electric customers more than $1.5 billion over 20 years, the Union-Tribune stated. The commissioners cited evidence there was no need for the power generated by the projects until at least 2018, four years after the plants would have come online.

Supporters of the two projects had said the plants could serve as an insurance policy to guarantee reliable electrical service, especially in light of the prolonged shutdown at the San Onofre nuclear plant, which once provided up to 20 percent of the region’s power. According to the Union-Tribune, however, the commission said the $1.5 billion cost was “very high” for an insurance policy and would create a risk of forcing ratepayers to pay for new generation both now and a second time if future information concerning need conflicted with current information.

SDG&E has the option of resubmitting the contracts based on new information or soliciting a new round of bids, according to the report.

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