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No Extension of Discharge Permit for South Bay Power Plant

Water Control Board Decides to Have Public Hearing

Audio

Aired 9/10/09

Opponents of the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista applauded a decision Wednesday by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board rejected a staff recommendation to extend a water quality discharge permit for the facility.

Opponents of the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista applauded a decision Wednesday by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board rejected a staff recommendation to extend a water quality discharge permit for the facility.

Dozens of Chula Vista residents, environmental groups and elected officials urged the regional water quality control board to open a public hearing to consider the permit.

And, after four hours of testimony, the board did just that, which brought applause from many in the room.

The permit expires in November and allows Houston-based Dynegy to use bay water for cooling at the South Bay Power Plant.

Opponents of the plant say the facility pollutes the air, kills and harms marine life and is a hindrance to development projects that could bring jobs to Chula Vista.

Randy Hickok with Dynegy says the company has always been in full compliance with the air and water permits.

He says the company wanted to build a new plant off the bayfront but met a variety of hurdles.

One Chula Vista resident told the water board "energy is not your job, water quality is" and board members appeared to agree with her comment.

Marco Gonzalez, representing San Diego Coastkeeper, the Environmental Health Coalition and the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, says the power plant's days are numbered.

"I'm somewhat optimistic that we're finally going to get this thing off the bay," Gonzalez says.

The agency that operates the state electrical grid says the plant is necessary to meet the region's power needs.

But Laura Hunter with the Environmental Health Coalition in National City says there are other sources for that energy.

"When the Otay Mesa Generating Station goes on line next month that will replace the South Bay Power Plant, we're convinced of that," Hunter says. "And we want a chance to make that showing to the regional board and we want them to move to rescind this permit."

No hearing date has been set but it will likely be scheduled before the current permit expires in November.

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