Southern California Edison Co.'s plan to build a major power plant in San Bernardino County would benefit its customers and should be allowed, state regulators recommended Tuesday.
In a draft decision, Administrative Law Judge Carol A. Brown of the California Public Utilities Commission said Edison had proved that its customers needed the additional electricity and that the plant would be cost-effective.
The five-member commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal Dec. 18.
Southern California Edison, the utility arm of Rosemead-based Edison International, wants permission to take over construction of a stalled 1,054-megawatt generating plant in Redlands to provide power for its 4.5 million customers.
The power plant, called Mountainview, would be the utility's first major electricity generating project in more than a decade and would produce enough power to serve about 800,000 homes.
Mountainview has sparked opposition from some consumer activists and rival electricity generators in part because of an unusual structure devised by Edison to make it easier to finance the deal.
Southern California Edison would finance the facility, but a utility subsidiary would build the plant and sell the electricity to Edison under a 30-year contract. The price of the electricity would be tied to the cost of producing it and would be overseen by federal regulators after initial approval by state and federal authorities.
Consumer activists said state regulators should have continuing control over the power sales and the profit received by Edison.
Rival generators objected to the lack of competitive bidding for the project.
The Mountainview project "is Edison burdening ratepayers with a 30-year sweetheart deal with itself," Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of the Independent Energy Producers Assn., said Tuesday.