Senate approves deadline on plant construction

Tuesday June 11, 2002

SACRAMENTO – An energy company could lose its permit to build a power plant if it didn’t start construction within two years under a bill approved Monday by the state Senate. 

Supporters said the bill would help the state plan its energy needs and discourage companies from holding on to permits to sell them when a shortage of electricity boosts their value. 

“There is no way we can have any certainty without putting a time limit on things,” said Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey. 

But opponents said the measure would discourage power plant development. 

“Why on earth would anyone want to build a power plant in the state of California with all the rules, with all the regulations?” asked Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside. “We make it next to impossible.” 

The bill, by Sen. Steve Peace, D-El Cajon, would require a company to begin construction of a power plant within a year after the getting a state permit. 

The company could get another year by agreeing to reimburse the state Energy Commission for the cost of licensing the project. 

The commission could revoke the license or impose fines if the builder couldn’t show good reasons for failing to meet construction milestones, and the state Power Authority could take over the project. 

State regulators could impose up to $150,000 in fines for failure to comply with conditions attached to a permit, up from the current $75,000.