In what appears to be the final word, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has given the go-ahead for the construction of a natural-gas-fired generating station in Oakley.
“The CPUC approval is very good news for Oakley,” said City Manager Bryan Montgomery. “… It will certainly have a positive economic impact.”
The authorization of the plant – to be located on 22-acres on Bridgehead Road near the Antioch bridge – comes after years of approvals and appeals for the PG&E power plant, the latest denial handed down in March by the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco when they cited that the CPUC neglected to allow enough time for public comment during a previous appeal process in 2010.
“This apparent attempt to minimize public input lends further credence to TURN’s (The Utility Reform Network) contention that the Commission had become so enamored of the project, it was willing to dispense with the procedural safeguards established by its rules and the statutes in order to achieve its preferred outcome,” the court ruling read.
Now, PG&E has been given the green light to purchase the 586-megawatt power Oakley Generating Station, which is expected to go online in July 2016. Danville-based Radback Energy, Inc., will build the facility, which had its groundbreaking last summer, and sell it back to PG&E once the plant is operating.
According to Montgomery, the plant will mean approximately $6 million in funding from Radback via a community grant program earmarked for local nonprofit organizations and city capital improvement projects.
“When the project is funded and financed the Community Benefits Agreement with the city kicks in,” said Montgomery. “Which means about $3 million as an initial payment to the City for some capital projects and it has been estimated that during construction, another $3 million in one-time sales tax revenues will also come to the City.”
The project is expected to bring some 700-plus union jobs to town, with an estimated $2.5 million in annual tax revenues for the city.
According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website, the proposed project is a combined-cycle power plant that uses a state-of-the-art design for fast startups. It would consist of two gas turbines, two heat-recovery steam generators, and one steam turbine, with associated equipment including an air-cooled condenser, a natural gas-fired auxiliary boiler, a 3-cell evaporative fluid cooler, a diesel-engine driven fire pump, and an oil-water separator. The proposed facility would also provide energy-efficient electric generation using new technology, with operational flexibility to efficiently address grid fluctuations due to the intermittent nature of renewable power sources, such as wind and solar.