New Power Plant Approved
From the nctimes.com:
NRG Energy Inc. can build a 558-megawatt power plant slightly east of its massive, aging Encina power plant along the south side of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the state Energy Commission unanimously decided Thursday.
Moments after the commission’s vote, one of the leaders of a citizens group that opposed the power plant proposal described herself as “stunningly disappointed.”
“I’m disappointed for the city of Carlsbad and all of the people of Carlsbad,” Power of Vision group leader Julie Baker added as she described how the city has long wanted the entire 95-acre, coastal Encina property to be redeveloped into something other than an industrial use.
During their debate on the proposal, state commissioners said they understood and sympathized with Carlsbad’s position, but said that the best place to put this new power plant was within existing power plant property, and that the project’s regional benefits far outweighed the city’s unhappiness.
Commissioner Karen Douglas said she understood why city officials had fought the project every step of the way, but said, “I think that the project will provide many benefits, some local, some regional.”
Commissioner Andrew McAllister said one key local benefit is that the new plant will eventually allow NRG Energy to demolish its existing, aging plant.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction compared to what’s there today,” he said as he described how the new plant, which is proposed to go between the railroad tracks and Interstate 5, will allow NRG to shut down three of the five generators within the old Encina facility.
Commissioner Robert Weisenmiller said having a new plant in the region is critical given the recent shutdown of equipment at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after concerns about excessive wear in its steam generators.
“Bottom line is we need more power plants near where San Onofre is,” he said.
The commission’s vote came after four hours of debate and public testimony. It brought to an end a state commission process that has lasted a record-setting 4 1/2 years.
During the public testimony portion of Thursday’s meeting, city representatives again squared off against NRG representatives.
George Piantka, project manager for NRG, emphasized that the proposed plant would allow his company to shut down three generators that have been operating since the 1950s.
The new equipment would be able to fire up in 10 minutes and would be a great environmental improvement over the old generators, he said.
City representatives said NRG’s plans didn’t fit with the city’s goals for the area and would create huge headaches for emergency response teams.
City Attorney Ronald Ball told the commission that Carlsbad officials have been trying for years to “persuade the commission to listen to our concerns,” and said that it’s amazing that proposed plant site hasn’t changed “an inch” in that time.