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2 CPUC OFFICIALS RECOMMEND DENIAL OF QUAIL BRUSH AND PIO PICO POWER PLANT APPLICATIONS




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November 26, 2012 (San Diego) – California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron has issued a draft decision finding no current need for the Quail Brush and Pio Pico gas-fired power plants  proposed by SDG&E at Mission Trails and Otay Mesa. He concludes the plants would not be needed until at least 2018—and then only if a Carlsbad power plant is shut down and not replaced. A separate proposed decision by CPUC administrative law judge Halley Yacknin also rejected both plants.

The full CPUC will have the final say, and could opt to amend the draft decision before a public meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.

“We are encouraged by the CPUC statement,” Jeff Kahn with Save Mission Trails told ECM.  The group has led efforts to stop the Quail Brush facility. “We have been diligently campaigning and committed to protecting our communities, the park and San Diego’s interest.  We will continue our work through community outreach and civic and group coalition building,’ he said.

Kahn indicated that a final CPUC ruling is expected within 30 days.  Although the outcome remains uncertain, Kahn said he is “optimistic” that plans for the controversial Quail Brush power plant may be denied by the CPUC.   But he expressed concerns over a separate potential action by the California Energy Commission.San Diego’s City Council denied a zoning change needed to build the Quail Brush plant, however the CEC  has the option to overrule the Council.  

The Quail Brush plant has faced enormous opposition, drawing intervenors including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, uniting even such polar political oppositions as conservative Santee Mayor Randy Voepel and liberal San Diego Mayor-elect Bob Filner.  Santee's city council and the Santee school district have also weighed in against the project, along with numerous other organizations and individuals.

San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has argued that the power plants are necessary in light of potential decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, which has been offline for most of this year, as well as to offset other power plants slated to shut down over the next five years for environmental reasons.  The utility also contends that the gas-fired “peaker” plants are needed to meet peak energy demand needs when wind and solar power is not available, ie at night when the sun isn’t shining or during non-windy days.

Completion of Sunrise Powerlink prior to peak summer season helped allay risk of power outages, even though the line has not yet begun carrying renewable but was launched with hookups to fossil fuel facilities out of state.  Ultimately  SDG&E aims to hook up Powerlink to industrial wind and desert solar projects in Imperial County, though controversies over environmental, health, and cultural resource impacts have swirled around those projects.

Meanwhile state regulators have approved a two-year, $1.9 billion budget for reducing energy consumption and avoiding the need for new power plants, U-T  San Diego reports.  The program emphasizes funding of energy retrofits to improve efficiency of buildings as well as heating, cooling and lighting to reduce the risk of power outages while also diminishing need for fossil fuel power plants.

Some municipalities are launching their own alternative energy providers, such as Marin County’s Marin Energy Authority and the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Energy Network. In San Diego, efforts are underway, supported by Mayor-elect Filner, to establish a local energy alternative provider that would purchase power from homes and businesses producing surplus solar or other forms of locally produced clean energy.

green electrons

This is indeed encouraging news!  Reducing demand by energy conservation has eliminated   the need for the deadly San Onofre nuclear power plant.  

But it is a mistake to think that industrial scale renewables like the Ocotillo Wind Project have anything to do with it.  At the present time there is not even one green electron flowing through the abominable Sunrise PowerLink.  

Even when fully operational Ocotillo will contribute only a single digit percentage of our energy and only when the wind is blowing at times of peak demand.  The gas-fired power plants in Otay and Mission Trails regional park were to fill-in when the wind is not blowing - which is most of the time.  

There is a lesson here.  We can halt the construction of ruinous industrial scale wind projects   scheduled for our backcountry through energy conservation and rooftop solar.  

Grey Feathers

 

Correct. There is no "renewable" power in Powerlink, only gas

powered electricity from Arizona or other areas.  For all the much touted "green energy" SDG&E promised there is none flowing to San Diego yet.  Ocotillo is set to come on line within weeks (though I would not characterize such as environmentally destructive project as green) but for now, we've been surviving without San Onofre and without a single wind facility. SDG&E confirmed that in an interview during the "celebration" of Powerlink's substation in Alpine.

If we increase conservation and add significant solar on rooftops and parking lots,  solar hot water and solar PV, plus add some biofuels and other small-scale reneawble options we would not need ANY of these dangerous and destructive projects - no blowing up our mountains adn bulldozing our deserts, nor risking radioactive nuclear contamination of our region. 

 

No need for Quail Brush

This is hopeful and excellent news. There's no way a power plant should go where people come for nature, peace, and recreation. It's great to know that citizen action can still make a difference. I'm inspired to work towards making San Diego and Santee model solar cities.

The Right Thing

YAY!!!   :D    So glad to read about people uniting together for a worthy cause and people in authority responding to them accordingly.   Because we live in Santee and care about Mission Trails, my husband and I joined in this cause. It's rewarding to see everyone's efforts were fruitful.   It gives one hope that the right thing can still prevail some of the time.   Thanks for the update!

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