Commission against expansion of Chula Vista power plant
By Tanya Sierra
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
January 23, 2009
A proposal to expand a power plant in a southwest Chula Vista neighborhood should be denied, according to a preliminary California Energy Commission recommendation released Friday.
The energy commission committee reviewing the expansion said the power plant conflicts with the city's general plan and zoning rules.
MMC Energy Inc., provides emergency power for the regional electricity system and is proposing the expansion at the site, which is behind a carwash and junkyard near Albany Avenue and Main Street. It's about 1,300 feet from an elementary school and 350 feet from homes.
“The record does not contain sufficient evidence to show that placing the project at the proposed location cannot be avoided,” the committee said in a written statement.
Harry Scarborough, a vice president with MMC Energy Inc., did not return a call seeking comment.
Although the decision isn't final until the full commission votes in March, residents opposed to the expansion consider it a victory.
“We're all very excited,” said Hugo Ivan Salazar of Communities Taking Action.
Residents and community activists have opposed expanding the current 44 megawatt facility to 100 megawatts because they believe it would be a health risk for those who live near it.
In August 2007, MMC applied for state permission to demolish its 8-year-old plant, which it wants to replace with a larger one on the same site. The plant, known as a “peaker plant,” provides power when the electricity grid is overloaded during peak use periods.
The peaker plant expansion has been a volatile issue. At nearly every City Council meeting, residents criticized Mayor Cheryl Cox for not opposing it.
[See pictures from one such protest.]
Council members Rudy Ramirez and Pamela Bensoussan oppose the expansion. Councilmen Steve Castaneda and John McCann have not taken a position.
Friday Cox said it is time to move on and that the city would work with MMC on finding a new location for the plant...
The plan to tear down the South Bay Power Plant on the Chula Vista bayfront could be delayed if other energy sources – including the peaker plant – don't come online. City officials have long wanted the plant gone from that site, where the San Diego Chargers are now considering building a new stadium.
Chula Vista had been counting on the MMC peaker plant expansion, approval of the Sunrise Powerlink and the Calpine baseload plant.
Before the California Energy Commission votes in March, there is a 30-day public comment period and a public meeting at Chula Vista City Hall scheduled for 4 p.m. Feb. 23.