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!

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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.
 

Orange Overpowers Opposition! Next Up: CPUC Vote Feb. 28

CPUC Rally

UPDATE: THE CPUC VOTE HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED (FOR A 4TH TIME) TO THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28.  CONTINUE TO PHONE/EMAIL THE CPUC.

AT THE FEB. 1 CPUC PUBLIC FORUM, over one hundred citizens voiced their opposition to Quail Brush and their support for the CPUC’s draft decision denying SDG&E a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for three fossil fuel plants. Orange overpowered the opposition and clearly stated the lack of necessity for these new polluting plants in the San Diego area. Check out the Highlights — videos, news articles, quotes, and photos below.

Sea of orange T-shirt wearers

YOU CAN STILL CALL OR EMAIL THE CPUC TODAY.
“I support the Administrative Law Judge’s decision and Commissioner Ferron’s decision on SDG&E application A110-5023.”
Phone before the Wed. Feb. 28 vote:
Michael Peevey, President, 415-703-3703
Catherine Sandoval, Commissioner, 415-703-3700
Michel Peter Florio, Commissioner, 415-703-2440
Mark Ferron, Commissioner, 415-703-2444
Carla Peterman, Commissioner, 415-703-1407
and/or Email public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov
Include in the Subject Line: A1105023 – Support the Proposed Decision. Be sure to INCLUDE YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, CITY, ZIP to be counted.
Feel free to copy and use Talking Points from the Sierra Club’s Fact Check: SDG&E’s Billion Dollar Power Plant Scheme or Save Mission Trails sample letter (scroll to mid-page).

NEXT UP:  CPUC MTG/VOTE – WED, FEB. 28, 9:00 AM – San Francisco
Again on the agenda is the vote on the CPUC’s proposed decision to deny SDG&E power purchasing agreements for Quail Brush and two other gas plants. Click link for directions to listen in or watch the live video.  Here is the agenda: see page 25, Item 24, A1105023. Prepare now to watch the video by trying to watch an archived video. You needRealPlayer installed to watch CPUC videos. You can download RealPlayer for free here.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CPUC PUBLIC FORUM in San Diego on Feb. 1
Save Mission Trails applauds the elected officials who showed up and spoke up against Quail Brush (Mission Trails/Santee) and Pio Pico (Chula Vista) gas plants:

Dave Roberts speaks at Forum
SD County Supervisor Dave Roberts

– San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts
– Santee Councilmember
Jack Dale
– Former state assemblymember (and current Sierra Club San Diego Chair) Lori Saldaña,
and SMT thanks these organizations which helped organize and/or added their strong voices:
Environmental Health Coalition (wearing blue), Preserve Wild Santee, Sierra Club, and the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre.

NEWS CLIPS – VIDEOS
YouTube Video: Fox, Ch.8, Ch.10
CBS Ch.8
and NEWS ARTICLES
East County Magazine
San Diego Union-Tribune
Santee Patch

OVERHEARD AT THE PODIUM at the CPUC Forum
“San Diego already has the highest electricity rates in the country: $190 per 100 kilowatt hours. We want to be known as the clean energy capital instead.”

“Peaker plants would not have helped us when the grid was down in 2011.”

“San Diegans should not be punished for conserving energy.”

“California is known for innovation. San Diego is known for sun. The time is now.”

CPUC Representative Denise Tyrrell, taking notes,  listens to nearly 60 speakers opposed to the power plants. Only one in favor of Quail Brush.
CPUC Representative Denise Tyrrell, taking notes, listens to nearly 60 speakers opposed to the power plants. Only one spoke in favor of Quail Brush.

“Quail Brush and Pio Pico were quietly going through the CEC permitting process BEFORE the CPUC even determined a need.”

“San Diego has 7,000 megawatts of potential energy from rooftop and parking lot solar.”

“Where’s my Power Purchase Agreement for solar generation?”

“A policy change could change civilization. What we are leaving for our children?”

“The corporatocracy is short-sidedly pursuing profits while you and I pay the costs: decreased jobs by 10 solar to 1 peaker plant, and increased health problems, utility rates, and global warming gases.”

“Where is SDG&E tonight? Why was the decision delayed? Do they have another game going on that they don’t need to be here?”

and, the favorite, “I’m not against peaker plants. I just put a twenty-two-panel peaker plant on my roof!

You can add your own comments here and check back after Feb. 28 for updates!

We Need an Army to show up Friday evening, Feb. 1, at the CPUC Public Forum!

What happened at the CPUC meeting? If you asked that question, then you are concerned about your community or park. Everyone who cares about this issue and wants to stop the Quail Brush power plant by Mission Trails Regional Park must show up at the CPUC Public Forum on Friday, February 1, 6PM,  Al Bahr Shrine Center, 5440 Kearny Mesa Rd, San Diego – click here for Google map.  Rally at 5:15 PM in the Al Bahr Parking Lot. See additional image for directions and map below.  Save the Date, Save the Park. 

Okay! But what happened at the meeting? The vote was delayed AGAIN. Why? Cogentrix and SDGE successfully lobbied the CPUC to delay the vote a third time for two more weeks. They requested the CPUC take a “wait and see” approach rather than reject the gas plant. Meanwhile, the CPUC agreed to hold a Public Forum in San Diego led by their top SoCal staff person.

Public MeetingSDGE will no doubt roll out their allies. For example, if SDGE treats this like the CPUC public meetings on wildfire expenses last year, we can expect to see recipients of their philanthropy that have nothing to do with this issue. So wear orange and let’s unite once again! Stop the polluting fossil fuel plant near our homes and MTRP!

This location is confirmed! AL Bahr Phone: (858) 292-0092

Turn into the driveway on either side of the Hampton Inn. The Al Bahr Center is behind the inn
Turn into the driveway on either side of the Hampton Inn. The Al Bahr Center is behind the inn
albahr-map
 

San Diego Mayor Filner Sends his strongly-worded Letter of Support

San_Diego_City_SealSave Mission Trails is happy to share that Bob Filner, the Mayor of San Diego, sent a strongly worded letter supporting the CPUC, the San Diego City Council decision, and opposing the Quail Brush power plant. Your letters of support are very important too. We need letters addressed to Governor Jerry Brown from our community and beyond to protect our beloved park and quality of life. Please send it by Jan. 20th. Click here to write Gov. Jerry Brown

Below is Mayor Bob Filner’s letter:

December 18, 2012

Commissioner Mark J. Ferron
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Re: Support for Proposed Decision/Alternative Proposed Decision
Application # 11-05-023

Dear Commissioner Ferron:

I strongly support both the Proposed Decision of Administrative Law Judge Hallie Yacknin and the Alternative Proposed Decision of Commissioner Mark J. Ferron in Application 11-05-023 to deny the authority of SDG&E to enter into purchase power tolling agreements with Pio Pico Energy Center and Quail Brush Power. I applaud your commitment to implement the California state loading order in meeting our energy resource needs.

On September 24, 2012, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to deny the request for initiation of a zoning change to allow the construction of Quail Brush Power in a designated open space area. The proposed location of the facility is part of a critically important open space network and regional biological preserve.

In addition to incompatible land use impacts, I believe better alternatives exist to meet our local energy resource needs – namely energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation and combined heat and power. Such preferred resources help to I protect human health and the environment, mitigate the impacts of climate change, meet state greenhouse gas reduction goals, and foster an innovation economy. I am committed to making the City of San Diego a leader in reducing our energy demand profile through alternative energy sources.

Construction of new, expensive and polluting fossil-fuel peaker plants detracts from that vision and strategy. There are limited resources available to implement our energy future and decisions to build expensive power plants foregoes opportunities for creating an efficient, clean and prosperous energy future.

For all these reasons, I support the Proposed Decision and the Alternative Proposed Decision and look forward to collaborating on building a new energy paradigm.

Sincerely,
Bob Filner
Mayor

CITY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, 202 C STREET
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA 92101 (619) 236-6330

Here is the mayor’s letter in PDF format

CPUC Decision Postponed to January 10 – Have you sent your letter yet?

The California Public Utitlies Commission (CPUC) vote on the SDG&E application for Quail Brush and two other gas plants in San Diego County has been rescheduled to January 10. This gives us time to get more Letters to the CPUC supporting their proposed decision rejecting these fossil fuel plants as not needed!

Have you emailed the CPUC? The more people who voice support of the CPUC draft decision, the better. You can count on Cogentrix and the other corporate lobbyists to be pushing for their profits. The Sierra Club will forward your voice! OR should you prefer to speak via Save Mission Trails, here is our letter and instructions.

Additionally, we are pleased to report that newly-elected State Senator Marty Block and San Diego Councilmember Scott Sherman have written letters to the CPUC in support of the draft ruling, which rejects the SDG&E power purchase agreement for these plants. Click to read Sherman’s letter.

Thank you all, for caring about the future of San Diego and our lovely Mission Trails Regional Park!

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!