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Calif. panel approves later construction start for proposed gas plant

TheCalifornia Energy Commission will give developers of a proposed 700-MW naturalgas-fired power plant in Palmdale, Calif., more time to start construction.

PalmdaleEnergy LLC in May requested permission to extend by more than nine months the date by whichconstruction on the Palmdale Energy Project was required to start, from Aug. 10to June 1, 2017. The extension approved by the commission July 13 is intendedto provide time for the commission to make a final decision on the company'srequest to change the license to a project approved in 2011.

Atthe time, the project was known as the Palmdale Hybrid Power Project and thecity of Palmdale, Calif., planned to build a 570-MW natural gas-fired,combined-cycle project, with solar thermal generating equipment.

Butthe city sold the project to Palmdale Energy in April 2015. Palmdale Energythen requested the commission sign off on the change in ownership and askedthat the name of the project be changed to the Palmdale Energy Project. Thecompany filed a petition seeking to eliminate the solar components and upgradethe combustion turbines to allow more flexible generation.

ThePalmdale Energy Project would be built on a smaller footprint within the areaof the original project. The site is about 60 miles north of downtown LosAngeles.

Thecommission approved the ownership change in June 2015. Commission staff hasissued a preliminary assessment of Palmdale Energy's proposal but is waiting todo a final assessment until the Antelope Air Quality Management District issuesits final determination of compliance. That determination has beendelayed, meaning that a final decision on the project change will not come intime for the Aug. 10 construction start deadline.

Commissionstaff recommendedthe extension, saying the nine-month period "is not excessive and appearsto be a reasonable amount of time to allow for the Energy Commission to issue aFinal Decision on the PEP." (No. 08-AFC-09C)