CPUC Vote Delayed AGAIN – Intensified Lobbying Threatens our Park and Communities

The CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) vote on Quail Brush was rescheduled from Dec. 20 to Jan. 10, and now postponed again to Thursday, JANUARY 24. Meanwhile, Cogentrix has intensified its lobbying. Top executives, their high-priced lobbyist, and lawyers met on December 12 behind closed doors with the Commissioners’ staff in an effort to sway the upcoming vote.

Remember David and Goliath. Keep up the good fight! It is imperative we continue to grow the CPUC email campaign. Please commit to recruit AT LEAST TWO of your friends and family to email TODAY. Comment via Save Mission Trails with our letter and easy instructions. (The Sierra Club link will be repaired and posted soon.)

Or comment with your own words. 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.

A FEW TALKING POINTS . . . 

  • The opposition’s energy planning and requirement claims are based on grossly inaccurate assumptions and estimates made on ten-year-old data that project unrealistically high energy needs.
  • Their out-of-date estimates ignore California’s massive and successful recent efforts to conserve energy, efforts that are being paid for by State tax payers, and that are involving the participation of thousands of our citizens.
  • As a result of widespread commercial and residential energy conservation, today we do not have the hyper-inflated energy requirements that the opposition claims as the necessity for plants such as Quail Brush.
  • Bottom Line: Support the CPUC Proposed Decision for A1105023.

GOOD NEWS!! Save Mission Trails is one of the East County Magazine’s Newsmakers of the Year for 2012. Congratulations, everyone! (Note: While the blurb mentions that TWO CPUC officials have deemed the plant unnecessary, the entire commission must uphold this decision on January 24 to stop Quail Brush.)

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!

Keep the Pressure On! “Attend” from home this week and next…

Keep the Pressure On the CEC and CoGentrix and continue your dedication to stopping the Quail Brush power plant. While you’re at work or home, here are two events you can easily “attend” by calling in on your phone (put your phone on mute) or via online on Dec. 4 and 10. Easy steps are below. Listen in and be counted (and/or participate if you wish) to these California Energy Commission (CEC) meetings about Quail Brush. Click for detailed agendas and instructions (p. 1-3 for agendas, and p. 7 for instructions), but here is all you really need to know:

1) TUESDAY, December 4, 2012 – Beginning at 3:00 PM  This is primarily a closed meeting, but it opens with a brief public comment portion. The CEC invites the public and interested agencies to listen in and participate.

TELEPHONE ONLY (NO COMPUTER ACCESS)
Call 1-866-469-3239 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada) and when prompted enter the meeting number for the specific date: 12/4/12 – meeting number: 923 152 206
or
VIA ONLINE (“WEBEX”)
Go to https://energy.webex.com and enter the meeting number 923 152 206 When prompted, enter your information and the meeting password: pwd#1516
If you have a phone number with a direct line (not extension): After you login, a prompt will appear on-screen for you to provide your phone no. In the Number box, type your area code and phone no. and click OK. You will receive a call back on your phone for the audio of the meeting. If you have a phone number with an extension: After you login, a prompt will ask for your phone no. Click “CANCEL.” Instead, call 1-866-469-3239 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada). When prompted, enter the meeting number above and your unique Attendee ID number which is listed in the top left area of your screen after you login.

2) MONDAY, December 10, 2012 – Beginning at 10:30 AM
Same instructions as above, different meeting number:  927 041 698 (password same as above, pwd#1516)
This is a Status Conference with the following Agenda:
1. Call to Order
2. Reports from Applicant, Staff and Intervenors regarding the status of the Quail Brush Generation Project AFC.
3. Public Comment
Members of the public and other interested persons and entities may speak up to three minutes on a matter appearing on this agenda.
4. Closed Session (if necessary) Committee closed session consideration of the following Item: Deliberation by the Committee on any matters submitted for decision by the Committee including, but not limited to pending motions and scheduling.
5. Adjourn

If you have difficulty joining the meetings, please call the WebEx Technical Support number at 1-866-229-3239. To see if your computer is compatible, visit http://support.webex.com/support/system-requirements.html.
Please be aware that the meeting’s WebEx audio and on-screen activity may be recorded.

 

 

Mission Trails When the Days are Short

San Diego does not exhibit the kinds of blatant seasonal changes that you see in Vermont, Oregon or Michigan; we have a more subtle shift in the weather.  Here is what it looks like when winter comes to Mission Trails.

The sun goes down sooner…

Moon rise on a crisp blue sky is common.

Oak leaves turn orange and then drop off at their leisure.

The dam swells from occasional rainstorms.

Note:  Our iconic Mission Dam will turn 200 in the year 2016, which is the same time Cogentrix would construct their Quail Brush power plant in a spot that could be seen from just above the dam.

This is where many of us come to escape the distractions of civilization and the work-a-day life.  We all need Nature to balance us.

Have you ever sat on a rock and looked closely at the colors and patterns?

The sky flaunts drama.

Sunset signals our time to say goodbye until the next time.

Photographs copyright by Patty Mooney

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!

Zombies Arise Near Proposed Quail Brush Power Plant Site

Is this what we want to have happen if we allow Cogentrix to steamroll us and get their way with an already-archaic fossil-fuel power plant which is slated to spew over 200,000 TONS of toxins into our air?  The Quail Brush Power Plant would be located just behind these zombies.

 

 

All kidding aside, we must continue to be vigilant on this important issue, or we will wake up to a humming, whirring, belching, farting power plant right on top of our beloved Mission Trails Regional Park, and we will belatedly wonder if there is something more that we could have done to prevent it.

 

Does Jane Dumas Know Cogentrix is Trying to Ruin Mission Trails?

Jane Dumas is a respected Kumeyaay elder who was honored on April 28th by having a day named after her at Mission Trails Regional Park.  Kumeyaay is Jane’s first language and she remains one of the last living fluent speakers of the Kumeyaay language in the world.  And she has spent the last 60 years of her life educating people about Kumeyaay history and culture.

After I came across this heart-warming story about Jane Dumas Day, and learned about all she has done in support of Mission Trails Regional Park, I wondered if she had been apprised of the fact that Cogentrix and Sempra Energy are trying to ruin Mission Trails by placing their unsightly, noisy power plant right next to the Equestrian Center, just north of Kumeyaay Lake.

What I have appreciated about various tribes, after having studied their history for the last 45 years of my life, and contributing to various American Indian charities, is that their spirituality is rooted in Nature.  Does anyone remember the commercial featuring an Indian man weeping at the sight of pollution in the river?  I am afraid that Jane Dumas will have a reaction very similar to that, when someone informs her of what is happening now, just a few months after the day she was honored at her beloved park.

“. . . WHEREAS, Jane Dumas was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002 and is recognized as the catalyst for Mission Trails Regional Park acquiring a Kumeyaay-Diegueño Nation flag to fly proudly at the Kumeyaay Lake and Campground in her honor from here on out; AND

WHEREAS, Jane continues to share her expertise in medicinal plants by teaching Ethnobotany classes at Sycuan’s Kumeyaay Community College.  It is her hope that the knowledge and traditions of her people will continue to be passed down from generation to generation and never be forgotten; NOW THEREFORE. . . “

. . . Jane Dumas we need you to stand with us now as we struggle to save Mission Trails Regional Park.