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end of an era

Photographs by Peter Thornton / Getty Images

California plans to reject a controversial natural gas plant, embracing a cleaner future.

After a three-year battle over the proposed Puente Power Plant in Oxnard, California, a committee of the state energy commission said it will recommend that the commission deny the project.

The committee saw a number of problems with the proposed plant. It poses environmental hazards and could feasibly be replaced by renewable sources. “The proposed rejection of Puente marks the end of new gas plants in California,” Matt Vespa, staff attorney at the environmental law firm Earthjustice, said in a statement.

The Puente plant was supposed to replace an older facility and provide back-up electricity for the surrounding area in Southern California. But people in Oxnard protested that the new plant was unnecessary and would further pollute an already overburdened town, as Emma Foehringer Merchant reported for Grist in August.

A study by the energy commission in June found that renewable alternatives could feasibly fill Puente’s role, though less reliably and at a higher cost.

The apparent defeat of Puente demonstrates that, at least in this case, California is staying true to its commitment to a cleaner, modernized electricity grid.