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California's green power debate is escalating. On March 16, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to immediately halt the state's ongoing and huge renewable energy auction. The CPUC wants to assess the February decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the Biennial Resource Plan Update (BRPU) breaks federal law (main story) and revisit the matter at its May 10 meeting. The CPUC says it considers FERC's decision as only advisory.

The CPUC's ruling came after Southern California Edison asked it to halt the entire BRPU and to bless the separate agreements it has made with some BRPU "winners," including Kenetech. SCE does not want to sign long term contracts with ten independent power producers as it says it does not need the electricity generation which would cost its customers $1 billion in higher rates between 1997 and 2003.

"We are pleased that the CPUC is standing up for the integrity of its competitive bidding process," say the Independent Energy Producers. "California has chosen to encourage clean reliable sources of energy which can create jobs and help clean the environment. The federal government should leave that policy decision to California."

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