Last July, the CPUC denied PG&E’s application to purchase the proposed natural gas fired combined cycle facility, citing no need to create new projects during the recession and advising PG&E to continue working on its newest power plants in Tracy and San Jose instead. The CPUC reported that the Oakley Generating Station, which is proposed to be built on a 22-acre parcel on the old DuPont property on Bridgehead Road, would be a more viable option by 2018 at the earliest, but after an outpouring of community support, the commission had second thoughts.
After reconsidering the community benefits as well as the energy efficiency of the proposed state-of-the-art plant, which will supply 624 megawatts of power to 600,000 households, the CPUC decided on Dec. 16 that the Oakley Generating Station is a practical option that is needed now.
“This is a win-win for all,” wrote Commissioner John Bohn in a press release. “It approves the construction of a modern, highly efficient power plant, provides clean and adequate power for the future and increases PG&E’s ability to secure financing for this project that might not have been available beyond 2010.”
CPUC President Michael Peevey said with the construction of the Oakley station, outdated plants would be able to retire and make way for the new technology utilized in Oakley.
Mayor Jim Frazier said he’s pleased that the CPUC ultimately recognized the need for the project, which will not only benefit Oakley but the entire economy of East County. Aside from the energy benefits, the project is anticipated to generate hundreds of construction jobs during the estimated 33-month construction schedule.
While the Oakley City Council has urged that a portion of the workers be local hires, other workers will be coming to Oakley from out of town, boosting the economy by shopping, dining and lodging in the area. Once the station is complete, it will be staffed by approximately 20 employees.
The California Energy Commission (CEC), which oversees the project’s viability study, is the only government agency with the authority to give the project the green light. Raymond Ehrlich, representing Contra Costa Generating Station LLC, the company that proposed the project, said things are on schedule with the CEC study. Should the CEC approve the project, groundbreaking could take place this summer and the plant could be fully operational by 2014.
The CEC has released part one of its preliminary staff assessment, concluding that recommended mitigation for the project complies with all laws, ordinances, regulations and standards in the areas of cultural resources, noise, public health, waste management, worker safety, facility design, power plant efficiency and power plant reliability. Part two of the report is expected to be released later this month and a final assessment in the spring.