Consumer Group Appeals Oakley Power Plant Approval

The Schwarzenegger CPUC ignored the law in approving PG&E’s unnecessary plant.

OAKLEY—A consumer advocate group is asking a California court to overturn regulators’ approval of a planned PG&E power plant here.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the natural gas-fired facility in December after rejecting it a few months earlier on the grounds that the electricity would not be needed when it came online in 2014.

The commission approved the plant after PG&E agreed to postpone bringing it online until 2016.

San Francisco-based The Utility Reform Network, or TURN, has asked the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco to reverse the decision.

“There was no new round of evidence presented by PG&E that shows the plant would be needed in 2016,” TURN communications director Mindy Spatt said.

Spatt said this is one of the few times TURN has gone to court to try to reverse a utilities commission decision.

“I’ve been here for 13 years, and you could count on one hand the number of court appeals we’ve had,” she said.

PG&E is reviewing TURN’s appeal, said utility spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian.

Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier, who has fought to bring the plant to the city, disputed that TURN has a “crystal ball” to predict when the energy will be needed.

“This will be the cleanest-burning power plant in California,” Frazier said. “It will enable PG&E to take older, less-efficient plants offline.”

The utilities commission last month dismissed a request for rehearing by the state’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates and environmental groups.

Danville-based Radback Energy has begun construction on the Oakley Generating Station, according to Radback Senior Vice President Greg Lamberg.

The plant is being built on a 22-acre industrial site on Bridgehead Road near the Antioch border formerly operated by DuPont.

“It’s been a brownfield for 13 years since DuPont pulled out in 1998,” Frazier said.