Ding-Dong! Quail Brush is Dead! “Undeniably and reliably dead.”

We did it! You did it! Cogentrix withdrew! All proceedings for Quail Brush Power Plant are terminated. We won!

With every letter, rally, meeting, and donation, we fought hard to protect our park, communities, health, quality of life, and the planet. Folks like you, of all political stripes, united and said NO to Quail Brush. We joined efforts with many outstanding organizations (see list of supporters) and became a formidable alliance. Our coalition said NO to an immensely expensive taxpayer-funded project for energy which the Public Utilities Commission ruled was not needed. We said NO to industrializing open space near Mission Trails Park, grading hills and destroying wildlife and tranquility. We said NO to an unhealthy polluting gas plant in a high-fire zone just a stone’s throw from schools, homes, hospitals, and neighborhood playgrounds. We said NO to more fossil fuel in Southern California. And we are saying YES to rooftop solar and community choice aggregation (CCA).

On September 12, Cogentrix requested to withdraw the application for Quail Brush. Docketed on September 15, 2014, the California Energy Commission ordered termination for all proceedings on the plant. Victory! Power to the People!

Our first mission is complete. Our second mission is to protect Mission Trails and the East Elliott open space area from future encroachment. Save Mission Trails will continue to monitor and to raise funds to make sure this never happens again. Stay with us. And THANK YOU for caring and taking the effort to keep our world clean and green.

CEC Order to Terminate QB

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Re-connect with SMT – now a 501 (c)(3) – at Santee’s Blues & BBQ on 7/17!

Can you imagine an 11-acre power plant stuck on graded hillsides in dry, dry chaparral habitat, spewing toxic fumes over our communities on a hot summer day? No Way!
On Thursday evening, July 17, Save Mission Trails will celebrate its new 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and another year of successful volunteer efforts to say no to the power plant near Mission Trails Park, Santee, Tierrasanta, and other nearby communities. All volunteers and friends of SMT are invited to meet up at the high-energy Blues & BBQ Concert in Santee. The first band, Mercedes Moore Band with the Blues Diva, will ham it up from 5:30-6:30 PM, and the Bayou Brothers with special guest Bill Magee –winner of the 2013 Best Blues Band — will jam from 7:00-8:30 PM. Dancing at Santee's Park Families can enjoy the park’s swings, jungle gyms, and open space for frisbee, tossing ball, or soccer. Phil’s BBQ will provide food and drink, and there will be a beer garden, too. SMT will provide a cake – first come, first serve – for dessert! Wear some orange and come have some summer fun!  Location: Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Drive, Santee 92071 Directions here.

And remember, the fight to preserve the quality of life in and around Mission Trails Regional Park is ongoing.  SMT is an all-volunteer effort that relies on donations to maintain the website, print flyers, pay legal fees, and communicate with the public at EarthFair and other events. A successful non-profit organization needs support. We appreciate your help – no matter how big or small – and your donations are fully tax-deductible. More info here.

 

Power Plant Application is Suspended for Second Time…and Continues to Fester

On April 24, 2014, the California Energy Commission (CEC) ordered that all proceedings on the Cogentrix application for certification (AFC) for the Quail Brush power plant bordering Mission Trails Park and Santee are on hold until April 15, 2015. While the plant cannot move forward for another year, (unless Cogentrix files a motion to revive the AFC sooner and the CEC approves this motion), no evidentiary hearings will take place this year that would have likely terminated this ill-conceived fossil fuel project once and for all.

Concerned citizens, including several elected officials, created a powerful response opposing the suspension and requesting the application be vacated, which was duly noted by the CEC. THANK YOU for your strong support. Community members like you are the David’s of this David and Goliath battle. The preservation of our beloved Mission Trails Regional Park and East Elliott Open Space area – and the health of our neighboring communities – Santee, Tierrasanta, Lakeside, El Cajon, Poway, La Mesa, San Diego – need your continued attention and diligence on the Quail Brush power plant issue.
STAY WITH US!

You can read the details of the CEC second-year suspension here. Or go to the CEC Docket Log and scroll down to TN# 202228. Letters of opposition, petitions against the gas power plant, and other important project documents are archived here as well.

Join SMT on EXPLORE MISSION TRAILS DAY in Mission Trails Regional Park
Sat, May 17, 2014, 8 AM – 3 PM
 The Save Mission Trails booth will be in the East Fortuna (Equestrian) Staging Area near Mast Blvd. and Rt. 52.
Connecting Children with Nature is the theme of this year’s event. Explore Mission Trails Day activities include free guided nature walks, pony rides for kids, live animals and educational programs for all ages, food for purchase, a climbing wall, nature discovery stations, and more. Email savemissiontrails@gmail.com if you are interested in helping out on this fun day. Wear an orange shirt or hat to identify yourself as a friend of SMT.

Below are photos of the Save Mission Trails booth at EarthFair 2014 in Balboa Park.

securedownload-3
Signing up to speak out against graded hills, fire danger, noise, visual blight, & pollution next to Mission Trails Regional Park
SMT at EarthFair 2014
Learning about the continued threat of the 11-acre gas plant with 11 smoke stacks proposed in an open-space / residential zone

Milestones in the fight to stop the power plant. Cogentrix pushes pause button, but don’t get too comfortable.

Celebrate our victories, but stay vigilant for the sake of our park, our communities, and our health. Currently, the Quail Brush Power Plant bordering Mission Trails Regional Park and Santee is in a one-year suspension. Scroll down to read more about what a suspension means, what happens next, and for photos of recent events.

Milestones
August 29, 2011 – Cogentrix files application (AFC) for Quail Brush power plant (QB) with CA Energy Commission (CEC). With a few exceptions, the general public is not notified.
January 3, 2012 – Randomly attending a bimonthly Mission Trails Park meeting, a Santee resident learns of plans for QB and begins movement to alert citizenry.
March 12, 2012 – Stop the Santee Power Plant Rally informs hundreds during morning rush hour and alerts the media.
March 28, 2012 – Santee City Council unanimously passes a resolution opposing QB.
May 29, 2012 Save Mission Trails incorporates.
Spring 2012 and continuing on – Thousands sign petitions, send letters, attend rallies and workshops. A strong coalition of environmental groups and local representatives both Democrat and Republican take a stand against QB.
July 19, 2012 – San Diego Planning Commission votes 4 to 1 rejecting re-zoning of open space land around park for power plant.
September 4, 2012 – Santee School District votes 4 to 1 to oppose QB.
September 24, 2012 – San Diego City Council unanimously denies Cogentrix’ appeal of Planning Commission’s decision.
December 18, 2012 – San Diego Mayor Bob Filner submits letter to CPUC opposing new fossil fuel plants and affirming a vision for the city to be a leader in better alternatives.
March 21, 2013 – CPUC unanimously denies SDG&E power purchase agreement for QB.
March 21, 2013 – Mission Trails Regional Park Task Force unanimously votes to officially oppose QB.
April 16, 2013 – CEC approves Cogentrix request for one-year suspension of QB.

The one-year suspension of Quail Brush will expire on April 15, 2014. Cogentrix needs to either wait until the expiration date or file a motion with the CEC to revive its review of the AFC sooner than April 16, 2014. If the CEC grants the motion, Cogentrix can restart at any time.

What happens when the suspension expires? Is the project canceled or automatically active? According to Eric Solorio, CEC project manager for QB, “My reading of the Order is staff will resume its review of the AFC on April 16, 2014.”

What now? Stay connected with Save Mission Trails. We remain active in the community to continue to get the word out about Cogentrix’ ill-conceived gas plant in a designated open space area, high fire-hazard zone, close to schools, residents, and the beautiful and peaceful (for now) Mission Trails.

Filner & SMT at EarthFair
Mayor Filner at SMT Booth, EarthFair, Balboa Park, April 21, 2013
EarthFair photo #2
Over 1,000 petitions opposing QB signed at EarthFair, April 21, 2013.
Dale at SMT party
Santee Councilmember Jack Dale addresses SMT celebration gathering, April 26, 2013.
SMT kids and cake!
SMT kids eat cake! Celebrating our victories….and looking to the future, April 26, 2013.
Explore MTRP Day
Explore Mission Trails Day at MTRP Equestrian Center (adjacent to proposed power plant site), May 18, 2013
MTRP Day Photo #2
Kids want clean air! Young citizens sign statements of opposition to a power plant by the park, May 18, 2013.

Thanks for your support. Let’s work together to keep our energy green and the air clean!

Biker in MTRP

What’s Going On Behind Closed Doors? What Can I Do?

What’s Going on Behind Closed Doors regarding power plants at Mission Trails/Santee and in Chula Vista? Turko Video The CPUC, CEC, Cogentrix, SDGE, CleanTech, and other industry and corporate stakeholders (excluding the public and the press) will meet in San Diego one day before the CPUC votes on whether the power plants are actually needed, four months after the CPUC correctly rejected these fossil fuel-burning plants as not needed.
Click above for what Turko says on 3/6/13 about this secret meeting.
UPDATE: Turko File Follow-Up 3/11/13 says a lawsuit has been filed to stop the meeting.

What You Can Do Now to Prevent new unneeded Fossil Fuel-burning Plants in our region, including grading hills for an 11-stack monster adjacent to majestic Mission Trails park and open space area. Want to stop a massive waste of taxpayer dollars?

1. MOST IMPORTANT – Attend the CPUC meeting THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 8:00 AM  [NOTE TIME REVISION: RALLY AT 8:00, PUBLIC COMMENT SIGN-IN AT 8:30, COMMENT SIGN-IN CLOSED and MEETING STARTS AT 9:00 AM. COME AT 8:00 IF YOU CAN!]
We need a huge show of force–yes, again!–to tell the CPUC to uphold the November draft decision which rejects these power plants. Take off work to attend, if you can.
PRE-MEETING RALLY: 8:00 AM at the site – Public Comment sign-in 8:30 AM
LOCATION: 5520 Overland Avenue, San Diego, 92123 — County Operations Center’s Conference Center (Campus Center) in Kearny Mesa. Check this website for any changes before you go.
BE COUNTED! We encourage EVERYONE to speak (1 minute or less), or at least submit a written comment on a speaker slip. Arrive by 8:30 AM to sign in.
SIMPLY STATE: “I support the CPUC’s A.L.J. and alternate draft decisions”
(at a minimum) and your name.

2. If you can’t attend, you still have a voice. Email and/or phone the CPUC today and ask two friends to do the same.

3. Over 600 letters opposing Cogentrix’s Quail Brush are on the CA Energy Commission (CEC)’s public docket. Let’s make it 1,000! Read some of the letters and send yours — or commit two friends to do so — today. Easy instructions on the Email Activism Page No. (2). PLEASE NOTE: The CEC will reject, approve, or withdraw the Mission Trails/Santee power plant application this spring, regardless of the CPUC vote. Don’t let the CEC and Cogentrix grade our beautiful park hills and pollute our air.

4. Ask Governor Brown to speak on behalf of the public interest and to relieve the pressure on the CPUC to rewrite their decision in favor of SDG&E/Cogentrix allowing another ratepayer rip-off.

5. Have fun at a SMT volunteer community outreach event! Join an early-morning hike up Cowles Mountain and/or petition-signing at the trailhead on March 16. Details on the Meetings Page.

6. “Like” and share our Facebook page and tweet us!

FAST FACTS: Peak electricity demand has been stable in San Diego and statewide since 1999. Generation capacity of gas-fired plants is in excess of 30% now. The Los Angeles basin will add 2,000 MW of gas-fired power plants this summer that will further balloon generation capacity. And yet another 2,000 MW are slated for construction elsewhere in California.

SDG&E has ample power generation without San Onofre. The required reserves is 15 to 17%. On the hottest hour of the year on Sept. 14, 2012, SDG&E still had reserves of about 24% without San Onofre.

BOTTOM LINE: The public would be saddled with at least $1.2 billion in construction and finance costs for just Pio Pico and Quail Brush in exchange for only 23 permanent jobs in our region. Claims by SDG&E that peak demand is rising and new peaker plants are needed for the hottest days are false.

We are steadfast in fighting the good fight. Thank you for all your hard work!

Give ’em a piece of your mind! Imminent CPUC Vote 2/28 and Upcoming CEC Forum 3/5

Mission Trails and proposed power plant site
Proposed site for fossil fuel plant? NO. Keep it green and the air clean.

UPDATE 2/28/13: CPUC President Peevey announced at the start of the meeting
that there will be no vote today. The meeting (and vote) will be held March 21
in San Diego.

UPDATE #2: CEC WORKSHOP 3/5/13 CANCELLED. CEC Reason – “They obtained the Cogentrix air pollution information they needed.”

REMINDER! CPUC VOTES on QUAIL BRUSH Thursday, March 21, 9:00 AM.
TO LISTEN IN, phone 1-800-857-1917 and enter passcode 92105 or access the CPUC online. The meeting starts at 9:00am; download the agenda.  IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY, CALL OR EMAIL the CPUC TODAY (or Monday.)  What to say:  “My name is ________, and I support Administrative Law Judge Yacknin and Commissioner Ferron’s decisions on SDG&E application A110-5023. Our region has the power it needs without building more fossil fuel plants, especially a power plant at Mission Trails Regional Park.” (More talking points below.)

Three of these five CA Public Utilities Commissioners’ “yay” votes are needed to support the proposed decision, which will reject SDG&E’s power purchase agreement for Pio Pico and Quail Brush.
PHONE before the March 21 vote. 

— Michael Peevey, President, 415-703-3703
— Catherine Sandoval, Commissioner, 415-703-3700  catherine.sandoval@cpuc.ca.gov
If you have time to make just one call or email, contact Ms. Sandoval. She is currently undecided. 
— Carla Peterman, Commissioner, 415-703-1407 (Conflict of interest? She declined to recuse herself from the CPUC vote even though she previously voted in favor of Chula Vista’s Pio Pico via her former position with the CEC. Ms. Peterman is currently undecided.)
— Michel Peter Florio, Commissioner, 415-703-2440
— Mark Ferron, Commissioner, 415-703-2444
EMAIL your comments to public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov
Type in the SUBJECT LINE: A1105023 – Support the Proposed Decision.
Be sure to INCLUDE YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, CITY, ZIP to be counted.
Use your own words or copy the Talking Points from the Sierra Club’s Fact Check or Save Mission Trails Sample Letter (scroll to mid-page).

UPDATE: THIS WORKSHOP CANCELLED BY CEC!
CEC PUBLIC WKSP – Tuesday, MARCH
5  at Grossmont College
Attend, Speak Out, and Submit Your Written Comment for the Record.
The CA Energy Commission Public Advisor will collect written statements at the workshop. If you can’t stay, please stop by to complete a written opposition statement. Verbal questions and comments are important, too.
WKSP CANCELLED When? Tuesday, March 5, starting at 1:30 PM (okay to come later, even after work – come when you can to fill out a written comment of opposition to the CEC)
Where? Griffin Gate Room at Grossmont College Directions and free parking permit p4-5
What? The specific workshop topic is Air Pollution, but you may comment in general on the proposed fossil fuel plant, as well.
Why??? Cogentrix does NOT want to see you there. They want us to forget about Quail Brush and go away. Their plan is to wear us out — Let’s prove them wrong. We WON’T give up. We have a beautiful park, our homes, our community, and our health to protect. Show up in orange and take a stand once again! No to Quail Brush forever!
If you cannot attend, please add your comment via the Online/Phone Instructions p2.
 

Fire Danger! What’s the Impact Zone of an Explosion at the proposed gas power plant? Applicant: No response.

Fire Safety 101:  Don’t build a fossil fuel GAS power plant in a high fire-hazard zone.
(Scroll to bottom to view “What can I do to help stop this power plant?“)

John Gibbins aerial photo of 2003 fire around Scripps Ranch area.
Aerial of 2003 Cedar Fire around Scripps Ranch area taken by John Gibbins/Union-Tribune.

Will our communities, homes, and our lives be protected? The City of Santee has stated it refuses to provide any emergency services to the power plant. The only response would be from San Diego, which has also opposed the project. Therefore, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC), to meet the local regulations and standards (LORS), a fire would need to be impossible, the risk zero. Really? Zero fire risk? Residents in San Diego and East County know all too well, this won’t be the case!

Required vs. Actual response times for San Diego Fire Stations to the proposed plant site:
Fire Response Times Chart
At the October 19, 2012, CEC Public Workshop, San Diego Deputy Chief Doug Perry stated the “drawdown” of emergency response resources and extended response times by the Fire Dept. are significant. We “can’t get there as quick as CityGate rules say that we should.” He continued, “It will take longer and the fires will potentially be larger.”

The applicant CoGentrix said that to bridge this time gap, they will create a “shelter in place” with breathing apparatus for the workers. Perry agreed it could be safer to keep the workers in the structure and let a wildlands fire go around it. SMT volunteer Sonja Ramos, who lives close to the proposed site, noted this shelter will be of no help to her and other local residents, though.

Photo from CEC Workshop 10/19/12 fire discussion
Deputy Fire Chief Perry and SMT volunteer and local resident Sonja Ramos discuss fire impacts at the Oct. 19, 2012 CEC Wksp, while Ziebart, hired lobbyist and applicant mgr. for CoGentrix (left), looks on.

Perry says he won’t put his people at risk if the plant itself has a fire. This is understandable due to high voltage and other dangerous issues. SDGE would have to come first and de-energize the plant. Perry notes that this will take awhile as in the recent case of fire in a Kearny Mesa facility. The fires burned for nearly three hours before being considered safe for fire crews to enter and do their job.

The cul-de-sac of the cul-de-sac…
At the CEC meeting, the public learned that CalFire and US Forest Service would not be dispatched until it was considered a 3rd or 4th alarm fire and only if the fire is on wildland (not within the plant facility). Perry said that in the San Diego area, we don’t always get the resources we need. “We’re the cul-de-sac of the state.” Yes, and many of us live in the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood with only one escape route. About 1,000 residents in three townhome/condo complexes live in the cul-de-sac area near Bushy Hill/Simeon Drive less than a mile southwest.  It’s unlikely residents will be able to effectively evacuate when there is only one escape route.

What if there is a natural gas explosion at the site…or another Santa Ana-wind driven fire like those of 2003 and 2007?

Santa Ana conditions are common in San Diego. Here, the 2003 Cedar Fire jumps Interstate 15.
Santa Ana conditions are common in San Diego. The October 2003 Cedar Fire jumped Interstate 15 and burned through major parts of Mission Trails Regional Park and Tierrasanta. Photo by CHARLES STARR / Union-Tribune

Communities at the west end of Santee and the West Hills High School are within 800 yards of the site. Fire Chief Perry stated that fires would be past the plant within five to ten minutes at the most.

Going up in smoke…..
A homeowner less than a mile south of the power plant site has been denied insurance on her condo by both Ameriprise and the Automobile Club (Triple A). She called Ameriprise to get specifics about her denial and was told, “It’s because of being in a fire zone.” Ameriprise utilizes “risk meter.com” (a member site used by insurance companies to determine insurance risk) and Google Maps. The company told her the area is extremely high risk, and that underwriters would not insure her condo or any other properties within 500 feet of a fire zone. Another homeowner living near Medina St. east of the proposed plant told SMT, “My husband and I were denied home insurance by Wawanesa Insurance Group due to the fire zone at Mission Trails Regional Park.”

So, if homeowners can’t get insurance due to proximity to a designated fire zone, why should a gas-powered plant covering 11+ acres within this zone get a green light? And how will a gas power plant impact the residents of the surrounding area? Residents worry about insurance coverage and rate increases compounding property value loss.

Unusual and fierce…
San Diego is known for its unusual and fierce wildlfire conditions. Santa Ana conditions produce winds blowing sometimes over 100 mph. Once started, fires are difficult if not impossible to stop in winds more than 25 mph, and fires are commonly blown up and down hillsides. The result is very fast spreading fires that typically get out of control quickly. One good spark and we’re all up in smoke.

The fire moves south down Oak Canyon toward the 52 freeway. Photo by Charles Starr.
A fire moves south down through Oak Canyon / East Elliott toward the 52 freeway. Photo by Charles Starr.

Additionally, brush fires in and along Mission Trails and East Elliott Open Space are common, especially along Highway 52. Locals (like myself) are used to seeing a few every year, with many started from car sparks or cigarettes thrown out car windows.

At the workshop, the applicant and the CEC tried to assure us that we are safe from fires and that fires in these types of power plants are rare. Meanwhile, CEC staff recommended that CoGentrix hire and train their own in-house fire brigade and have an onsite EMT. Our reply: We won’t take this risk.

Just recently in the news: “A natural gas power plant at Miramar remained offline this week after a weekend fire. Plant operator NRG Energy still is evaluating when its generator may return to service, said company spokeswoman Lori Neuman. An adjacent power plant run by San Diego Gas & Electric briefly had its fuel supply cut off as a result of the fire. The blaze broke out Saturday at about 6:15 p.m. at the plant on Consolidated Way north of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Flames soared 30 feet into the air.”

CEC Fire Safety Expert says there is no risk of fires from the pipeline due to strict Federal regulations of new pipelines. Here’s a list of some pipeline accidents resulting in fires. We’re sure the folks living near the San Bruno gas power plant explosion in 2010 had also been reassured that there was no danger.

What can I do to help stop this power plant? 1) Click for easy instructions to email and add your name to the growing army of opposition against this not-needed fossil fuel plant. It’s critical each one of us does this. Strong public opposition can help sway the state commissioners into making the correct decision for our communities and park and/or 2) Come to a SMT meeting to get more info and find out about volunteering. Thank you!