Updated at 11:32 a.m. March 21, 2013
In a victory for critics of a proposed local power plant, the state Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 Thursday to deny the power purchase contract for Quail Brush and Pio Pico power plants at a San Diego hearing.
The decision doesn’t put a nail in the coffin of Quail Brush—a “peaker plant” project opposed by the Santee City Council and other public agencies.
The California Energy Commission can still approve the projects’ construction, but the plant wouldn’t be able to sell power to San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
The issue at hand during Thursday’s hearing at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa was: Is there a need for more power in San Diego’s grid?
The PUC’s answer to this question came in a unanimous vote that decided more power plants won’t be necessary in San Diego County until 2018.
Opponents of Quail Brush, many dressed in orange, filled the audience at the hearing—the color worn by the local Save Mission Trails activist group.
They held a rally with other critics before the hearing, and many spoke before the commission in opposition to the plants, as did San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Santee Councilman Jack Dale and East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
The plant, classified as a “peaker” plant, would be used to supplement SDG&E’s available power in case of heat overload or blackouts on the overall system.
Cogentrix, the North Carolina-based company that wants to build the plant, has said it would run at only 43 percent capacity, and would be entirely natural gas-fired.
The opposition, which has coalesced around StoptheSanteePowerPlant.org, has demanded that the California Energy Commission evaluate the company’s application as running at 100 percent capacity.
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