For Immediate Release: February 20, 2014
Media Contact: Michael Ward - 916-654-4989, michael.ward@energy.ca.gov

MEDIA ADVISORY

Energy Commission fines power plant, approves research grants

The California Energy Commission issued a $2,500 fine against the owners of the Bottle Rock Geothermal Power Plant in Lake County for failing to secure a $5 million bond that would pay for environmental restoration if the plant is closed. The five-member Energy Commission unanimously found that the plant owners were noncompliant and approved the fine during the Commission's monthly business meeting Tuesday.

In 2001, the Energy Commission granted a permit to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to transfer ownership of the Bottle Rock Power Plant in Lake County, CA, to Bottle Rock Power Corp. (later, Bottle Rock Power). A key condition of the sale was a requirement that project owners secure a $5 million bond to cover proper decommissioning of the plant and remediation of the site should the plant close.

In 2012, DWR and Bottle Rock Power amended the purchase agreement, deleting the provision requiring the $5 million bond. During a hearing last year, the Commission's Bottle Rock Geothermal Plant Amendment Committee determined that the company failed to comply with sale terms and sent the issue to the full Committee with a recommendation that a penalty be assessed.

The penalty could have been larger. The complaint filed by David Coleman, a private citizen, sought a $50,000 fine, but Commissioners noted that the owner has since secured the necessary bond, and may have been confused about the requirement based on how the condition was worded.


In other business, the Commission found that the Alamitos Energy Center's application for certification was data inadequate in four of 23 technical areas: air quality, biological, cultural, and transmission and system engineering. The Commission said it would wait for additional information in these areas from the applicant and will take up data adequacy at a future business meeting. The facility to be located in Long Beach, CA, will be a natural gas-fired plant producing about 2,000 megawatts. It will be constructed on the site of, and will eventually replace, the 2,000 MW Alamitos Generating Station, a natural gas-fired plant that began construction in 1955.

The Commission also approved energy efficiency-related research grants for UCLA ($400,000), UC Irvine ($397,288) and San Diego State University ($199,932). The grants are part of the 2013 Enabling Technologies Development program sponsored by the California Institute for Energy and Environment. The funding will support research to improve the electrical grid and the development of smart-home technologies.

Finally, the Commission approved a $300,000 contract with UC Davis to improve an airborne system to detect leaks from natural gas transmission pipelines, and a $400,000 contract with the California Air Resources Board to identify substances in biogas that could pose a risk to human health if transported through natural gas pipelines. The Air Resources Board will provide $400,000 in co-funding.

The next Commission Business Meeting is 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12 at the California Energy Commission Building, 1516 9th St., Sacramento, CA, 95814.

For more information on the Commission, or to view the Business Meeting agenda or transcript, please visit energy.ca.gov or call the media office at 916-654-4989.


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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies. For more information, visit: www.energy.ca.gov or www.energy.ca.gov/releases/.

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