State Panel Schedules Week of Hearings on Energy Plants

The state Energy Commission has scheduled a week of hearings in April to determine whether the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County must obtain commission approval to build waste-to-energy plants at the Puente Hills landfill in Hacienda Heights.

Garret Shean, commission hearing officer, issued a nine-page order last week scheduling the hearings April 6 to 10 and defining the issues to be decided. The commission has jurisdiction over electric generating plants that produce more than 50 megawatts of power.

The Sanitation Districts have built a power plant that burns landfill gas to generate 45 megawatts of electricity. They also have filed plans with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to build two plants to burn trash to generate 47 megawatts each.

A homeowners group, the Hacienda Heights Improvement Assn., filed a complaint with the Energy Commission more than a year ago, accusing the Sanitation Districts of trying to evade the commission's jurisdiction by splitting projects and keeping each just under 50 megawatts. The City of Duarte and a development company have intervened to support the homeowners.

The Sanitation Districts contend that they are not yet committed to building trash-to-energy plants at Puente Hills and therefore need not apply to the commission. The districts have spent $450,000 planning the projects.

Shean said the commission must decide whether any or all of the Puente Hills power projects should be under its jurisdiction and whether the Sanitation Districts have violated laws or regulations by failing to submit projects to the commission. Shean will conduct the April hearings at a site still to be determined and submit his findings to the commission.

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