From: “Congressman Duncan Hunter” <CA52DHima@mail.house.gov>
March 30, 2012
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the proposed Quail Brush Generation Project. I welcome the opportunity to respond to you on this important issue.
I am aware of San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) application to the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build a gas-fired power plant, and have heard many concerns from the residents of Santee regarding this matter. As you indicated, representatives from the CEC held a workshop this past week to hear from concerned residents. My schedule as a Member of Congress required that I be in Washington, D.C., so I was not able to attend the meetings in San Diego this week.
Further, my role as a federal legislator limits my involvement in this issue as it is currently being considered on the state and local level.
However, I do understand that the Santee City Council voted unanimously on a resolution Wednesday, voicing opposition to the plant. Also, San Diego planning commissioners have delayed a decision to potentially change the zoning of the site while the CEC still considers the permit request.
I believe it is imperative that any effort to develop energy resources must be performed with the safety of the public and environment in mind. In the past, I have opposed projects that would adversely affect private property owners and are not in the best interest of our community. Regardless, I will continue to monitor the developments of this issue as it affects Santee, and should the matter extend to the federal level, I will keep your concerns firmly in mind.
Thank you once again for contacting me. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Member of Congress
Please visit my website at hunter.house.gov.com
One thought on “Congressman Duncan Hunter’s response about the Power Plant”
Dear Congressman Hunter:
I read your letter to Santee residents and the Stop the Santee Power Plant organization concerning the Quail Brush Power Plant Project. I understand your concerns are usually addressed to Federal matters. I believe there are considerable Federal matters at issue with Quail Brush should you wish to consider intervening.
Cogentrix, the Quail Brush applicant, seeks to site the Power Plant in land under control of the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). The MSCP is a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) as provided for in the Federal Endangered Species Act section on Habitat Conservation Plans. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is a co-signer of the MSCP. USFWS is the Federal Government official body charged with ensuring compliance with MSCP standards and Congressional intent.
There are two ways in which the City of San Diego’s implementation of the MSCP deviate from Federal intent, and, should Quail Brush be allowed (which is one of the two), the issues dovetail. I’ll try to explain. In either case, or both, Federal intervention is well warranted.
The purpose of Habitat Conservation Plans under the Endangered Species Act is to provide for environmental conservation while allowing private owners to economically develop their property. This concept originated when private property owners in San Bruno, California offered to contribute a portion of their land to protect wildlife habitat, and for which the owners would be allowed to develop their property. Congress liked the concept and enacted it into law.
The Multiple Species Conservation Program is a Habitat Conservation Plan. It is intended to allow private owners to develop 25% of their land, while giving to the City 75% of their land free of charge for conservation. The owners’ use of the portion of land they are allowed to develop is limited so that its use is not discordant from the environmental preserve. The zoning for East Elliott is RS1-8 or about 1-dwelling unit per acre. This is very low residential density associated with development in rural areas. It is consistent with development in the MSCP.
The City of San Diego has put restrictions on owners that thwart development at even the low amount allowed. The land, formerly Camp Elliott, was sold to private owners in the 1960s and 1970s for residential development. It has not been developed since that time. It remains raw land, without roads, access, gas, water or sewage. The City’s thwarting of private economic development in East Elliott is contrary to the intent and purpose of the MSCP. This is ample reason for Federal concern, oversight, and investigation. I invite your interest and involvement.
Cogentrix, the Quail Brush Power Plant applicant, wants to place the power plant in East Elliott on property protected by the MSCP. The environmentally sensitive nature of the land is reflected in the East Elliott Community Plan that was adopted to coincide with the MSCP. The Community Plan describes the East Elliott Planning Area as one of the most biologically sensitive areas in San Diego. Quail Brush consists of a building longer than a football field, housing 11 natural gas powered electrical generators, each with its own 100-foot tall smokestack, and ancillary equipment. It is clearly an incompatible use in East Elliott and under the MSCP.
It is also a problem that the owners who purchased the land for residential development decades ago, and have been prevented from development due to City environmental rationalizations, should now find the City is willing to allow an incompatible use of the land for a massive power plant. The power plant directly impacts the property, and surrounding property. Siting the power plant in East Elliott requires that the City amend the MSCP, the East Elliott Community Plan, and many other local laws and ordinances (the Sensitive Land Ordinance, the General Plan, the Mission Trails Master Plan Update, and the Mission Trails Design District). If the City approves Quail Brush it will be another misuse of what Congress intended with regard to Habitat Conservation Plans and the MSCP.
The power plant project clearly should be located to an area [currently] zoned for heavy industrial use.
I hope this information is useful to you, and that you will see that this is properly a matter for Federal involvement. I hope that you will consider becoming involved to halt the present siting of the Quail Brush Power Plant Project.
(Comment posted with permission of Mr. Goldfarb.)