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Carlsbad Power Plant Project Challenged

Power lines make their way over a freeway toward the San Onofre nuclear power plant, June 7, 2013.
Associated Press
Power lines make their way over a freeway toward the San Onofre nuclear power plant, June 7, 2013.
Carlsbad Power Plant Project Challenged
The Carlsbad Energy Project is being challenged by environmentalists who don't think regulators fairly considered renewable energy alternatives.

An environmental group is challenging a recent decision by state regulators to approve a new gas fired power plant in San Diego County.

The appeals court challenge is designed to overturn the California Public Utility Commission approval of the Carlsbad Energy Center.

The 550-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant has faced opposition since it was first proposed, but California regulators still approved the plant earlier this year.

The CPUC accepted arguments from San Diego Gas & Electric and the company building the plant that the five generator peaker facility was needed to stabilize the grid and replace power that's not coming from San Onofre.

Environmentalists, like the Sierra Club's Matt Vespa, wanted more consideration of renewable energy options.

"Its approval came after a proposed decision from an administrative law judge, which dismissed the contract and rejected it because it hadn't allowed clean energy resources a chance to compete," Vespa said.

The Sierra Club's and EarthJustice, the group filing the challenge, argued California didn't need another expensive fossil fuel power plant.

"And this is a multi-billion dollar expenditure. Carlsbad's cost over $2 billion for San Diego customers is resulting in over a three percent rate increase for San Diego customers' electric bills," Vespa said.

A decision on the appeal could come early next year. SDG&E officials said they are reviewing the challenge.