Thursday, April 19, 2012
The City of Carlsbad wants to reclaim its coastal real estate after the giant "Encina" gas powered plant is decommissioned in five years. It's one of a number of coastal plants that are due to be decommissioned because of damage to the marine environment caused by its cooling system.
Debate over a new power plant on Carlsbad’s scenic coastline heats up today, and the future of San Onofre figures into the arguments. The California Energy Commission holds hearings in Carlsbad this afternoon
“The City of Carlsbad does not believe California’s coastline should be home to another power plant,” said Carlsbad’s project manager, Joe Garuba.
The land where the Encina plant sits has sweeping views up and down the coast line and, Garuba said, is worth millions of dollars an acre.
He said SDG&E is building other new power plants elsewhere - Pio Pico and Quail Brush - and the new “Carlsbad Energy Center” isn’t needed for San Diego; so it could end up sending power to Los Angeles.
“We might get stuck with a power plant that is not providing power to the San Diego region and has no benefit to San Diego,” Garuba said.
Robert Sparks is with CAL ISO, the agency responsible for managing electricity flow so the lights stay on around the state. He is Manager of Regional Transmission-South. Sparks said a meeting this week established that a replacement power plant in Carlsbad, generating 500 MW of power, will be needed to keep San Diego’s power supply reliable.
Plus, he said, the agency is considering scenarios with or without the San Onofre nuclear power plant. San Onofre’s Units 2 and 3 generate about 2,000 megawatts of power
“We’re very hopeful that it will be there,” Sparks said, ”but certainly if it is not, the need for Carlsbad, Pio Pico, Quail Brush is even more pronounced. And we would probably need generation beyond even those facilities and possibly even some transmission upgrades as well.”
Sparks added the new Carlsbad plant could be located in a “electrically equivalent area,“ though that has not yet been exactly defined.
Energy Commission staff recommend NRG be granted a permit for another power plant in Carlsbad to “take advantage of existing facilities.” They argue the benefits will outweigh the significant, unavoidable environmental impacts.
The California’s Energy Commission will decide at the end of May whether to issue a permit. If approved, the project would need several more permits before construction could actually begin.