CPUC Win is Temporary – Now CEC Decision Looms

UPDATE:  On April 8, 2013, Cogentrix requested the California Energy Commission (CEC) allow the corporation a one-year suspension of the Quail Brush Generation Project. The CEC approved the suspension on April 16. CEC staff and responsible agencies “shall cease work on the Application and any pending motions are stayed.” The suspension will expire April 15, 2014.  During this time, Save Mission Trails will continue to build awareness of the proposed fossil fuel plant, work on coalition-building and growing the opposition, and remain alert for any threats to the land near Mission Trails. Please support our work!

With a standing room only crowd as witness, the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted unanimously on March 21, 2013, that SDG&E currently has enough power, and therefore cannot purchase power from the proposed Quail Brush gas plant (QB) sited next to Mission Trails Regional Park. However, SDG&E can reapply for QB and/or other power plants by stating a need for more power to come online in 2018.
Click here to help protect the park FOR GOOD today!

Save Mission Trails now invites you to address the CEC, which is slated to deny or approve QB based on siting issues (environmental, air quality, fire, land use regulations, etc.) – irregardless of need. If the CEC votes to deny QB, our park and local communities are protected for good, not just for a couple years. But a vote to approve QB would allow for the grading and perpetual destruction surrounding our park and neighborhoods to begin. The CEC decision looms; QB must be rejected. You can help right now by urging the CEC to deny this gas plant FOR GOOD. Been there, done that? Please ask a friend or neighbor to do so. Thanks!

Below is more info on the outcome of the March 21 CPUC Vote, including the actual text of the order (NOTE #3), a video clip, articles, and quotes.

March 21 2013 CPUC Mtg

The CPUC ORDER, March 21, 2013, last page reads (NOTE #3):

“D1303029 Determining San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s Local Capacity Requirement and Granting Partial Authority to Enter into Purchase Power Tolling Agreements.
IT IS ORDERED that: 

1. San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s request for authority to enter into a purchase power tolling agreement with Escondido Energy Center is approved. 

2. San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s request for authority to enter into purchase power tolling agreements with Pio Pico Energy Center and Quail Brush Energy Project is denied without prejudice.

3. San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) is authorized to meet a local capacity requirement need of up to 298 MW beginning in 2018. SDG&E shall meet this need either by issuing a new request for offers or, in the alternative, it may bring an application for approval of purchase power tolling agreements with either Pio Pico Energy Center and/or Quail Brush Power amended to coordinate with the anticipated retirement in 2018 of once-through cooling generation units. SDG&E shall adjust the commencement date, as appropriate, to coordinate with the anticipated retirement of once-through cooling generation units and other changing conditions in its service territory. 

4. San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s July 9, 2012, and August 15, 2012, motions to supplement the evidentiary record are granted. 

5. San Diego Gas & Electric Company shall create a Local Generation Balancing Account for the Escondido Energy Center. The Local Generation Balancing Account shall be applied to all customers in San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s service area, on an equal per kilowatt-hour basis by customer class. 

6. San Diego Gas & Electric Company shall create a Local Generation Charge to recover new generation costs on a non-bypassable basis from all customers. 

7. All pending motions that are not otherwise granted in this order are deemed denied. 

8. Application 11-05-023 is closed. 
This order is effective immediately. 
Dated March 21, 2013, at San Diego, California. MICHAEL R. PEEVEY President, 
MICHEL PETER FLORIO, CATHERINE J.K. SANDOVAL, MARK J. FERRON, CARLA J. PETERMAN Commissioners”

VIDEO 
TV coverage on 5 news stations

A COUPLE ARTICLES
East County Magazine articles about CPUC decision and ramifications
San Diego Free Press article with comment by Sierra Club’s Pete Hasapopoulos

QUOTES FROM THE DAY – Heard at the podium…
“One step for SDG&E’s pockets, one giant step backward for mankind.”
“Sunny San Diego = a Golden Opportunity to be Solar San Diego. If Germany can do it, so can San Diego.”
“It’s a math problem:  More peaker plants means needing more renewables to meet the mandates.”
“A three-year-old can walk from Quail Brush to the nearest playground. This isn’t right.”
“The choice is between need and greed.”
and from Commissioner Ferron, “This meeting has confirmed what I’ve always known about San Diegans. You are passionate, well-informed, and courteous.”

Save Mission Trails (and that means you!) continues to be passionate about our cause to stop the power plant, and to keep our hills green and our air clean! 

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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!

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.)

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.

 

Why Save Mission Trails? – by Patty Mooney

I admit it.  Mission Trails Regional Park is my backyard, and I do not want to see, hear or smell a power plant anywhere near this, the largest urban park in the USA.  Yet that is exactly what Sempra Energy and Cogentrix want to do.  They want to stick a grotesque conglomeration with 11 100-foot smokestacks and dozens of electrical towers right on top of Mission Trails where the “wild things” roam.  We’re talking about the home turf of Wile E Coyote and Road Runner.

Of course, as one of the unofficial custodians of this beautiful park, I must now let the world know what is going on in this corner of the planet, and why we must all be concerned about this.

It would be like plunking a power plant down on top of Yosemite or Zion or Central Park.  These are the places that people go for their emotional, physical and spiritual well being.  As Robert Redford said at the Yosemite National Park dedication in 1985, “I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security.  Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad.  Otherwise what is there to defend?”

I personally believe that Mission Trails Regional Park should have the protection status of our national parks, and that the last thing we, as a world community, should do is allow a bunch of greedy energy corporations to ruin paradise.  And that’s why I made this little video with the help of my husband: