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South Bay Power Plant Operators Want New Discharge Permit

An energy company has asked a state agency to renew a water discharge permit for the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista.

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An energy company has asked a state agency to renew a water discharge permit for the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista.

Dynegy Energy wants the discharge permit for a five-year period starting in January.

The company needs approval from the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.

But at a recent regional water board meeting, it appeared the South Bay Power Plant had received its last discharge permit and the facility was headed for demolition.

Laura Hunter, with the Environmental Health Coalition in National City says that seems uncertain now.

"The operators of the plant have made clear they're ready to shut the power plant down as soon as the ISO - the independent system operator - gives them the OK to do that," said Hunter.

Dynegy said it will continue to operate the plant until the California System Operator determines the plant's energy is no longer critical for the region's electricity supply.

Hunter said CAL-ISO is expected to make a decision on the plant's "must run" status in September.

The 50-year-old South Bay Power Plant uses "once-through-cooling" where water is sucked in from the sea and then discharged back into the ocean at warmer termperatures, which can kill or harm marine life.

Gabe Solmer with San Diego Coastkeeper says the warmer discharge also keeps critical eelgrass from growing in the bay near the plant.

Most power plants in California have until at least 2015 to phase out their once-through cooling systems.

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