Friday, February 7, 2014
Court of Appeal Says PUC Should Not Have Relied on Hearsay in Approving Power Plant
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The First District Court of Appeal has overturned the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of a gas-fired power plant, saying the commission unlawfully relied on hearsay evidence in concluding the plant was necessary.
Div. Five Wednesday agreed with The Utility Reform Network that documents prepared by the California Independent System Operator did not constitute substantial evidence supporting Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s proposal to locate the plant in Oakley, a largely agricultural city of more than 35,000, located 51 miles northeast of San Francisco.
“The need was said to arise in part from California’s efforts to obtain a greater percentage of its energy from renewable sources, thus requiring additional conventional electrical generating capacity to cope with fluctuations in supply due to the intermittent nature of wind and solar power,” Presiding Justice Barbara J.R. Jones explained in her opinion for the Court of Appeal.
The documents were hearsay because the authors did not testify at the administrative hearing, and do not fall under any hearsay exception, the court said. The administrative law judge was correct in holding that PG&E failed to prove its case, and the PUC erred in rejecting that conclusion, Jones said.
While hearsay is generally admissible in commission proceedings, the jurist explained, the PUC may not rely on uncorroborated hearsay when there is other evidence in the record placing the matter in dispute.
The case is The Utility Reform Network v. Public Utilities Commission (Pacific Gas & Electric Company), 14 S.O.S. 682.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company