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Plug Pulled On San Diego Power Plant

— Capital Power is tabling its plan to build a power plant in University City for now.

The natural gas power plant is being proposed on land near Interstate 805 and Nobel Drive. Voters would have needed to approve the lease of the land to the Canadian power company. The City Council’s Rules Committee was scheduled to discuss on Wednesday whether to put the issue on the November ballot.

Aired 6/26/12 on KPBS News.

The plug has been pulled for now on a possible power plant in University City. But the project may resurface in the future.


Capital Power Letter

Capital Power Letter

A letter from Capital Power to Mayor Jerry Sanders explaining the company won't pursue a 2012 ballot measure.

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Location of Proposed Power Plant

In a letter to the mayor’s office, the company said it has decided not to pursue a 2012 ballot initiative. And it requests the item be pulled from the committee's agenda.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner represents University City. She said she believes there would not have been enough votes on the City Council for the issue to be placed on the November ballot. Lightner said the community is outraged the plant was proposed for that location.

“In particular because it is designated open space in the community plan,” she said. “It is Pueblo land. It is very, very close to parks, recreation, libraries, schools.”

The plant would also be located at the end of the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar runway.

Republican Ray Ellis is running against Lightner for her City Council seat. He is also opposed to the project. The two will face off in November.

But just because there won’t be a vote this fall doesn’t mean the project is dead. In its letter to the mayor, Capital Power said it will begin a public outreach campaign with the goal of putting it to a vote in a future election.

A city staff report on the proposal said the location is ideal because it’s close to a water treatment plant, in an industrial area and on land the city isn’t otherwise using. The report said San Diego would get revenue from the plant’s property taxes and by selling reclaimed water to power plant operators. The city may also get more than $1 million dollars a year in rent from the lease of the land if the plant is ultimately approved.

The University City Planning Group's special meeting to discuss the issue will go on as planned tonight at 6 at the UTC Mall.

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Avatar for user 'heteromeles'

heteromeles | June 25, 2012 at 10:21 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

I walked by the site today, and after seeing it, I'm quite glad that this project isn't going forward.

While I understand the advantages the city sees, the site has some massive disadvantages. Basically, because it is in the MCAS Miramar flight path, next to the 805, Miramar and Nobel, train tracks, and both a business park and high-density residential, any emergency in the plant could quickly turn into a disaster.

If the plant caught fire or exploded, it would
--stop traffic on the 805, Miramar, and Nobel Drive, impeding emergency vehicles coming in AND people trying to evacuate
--likely cause a blackout, making traffic even worse (remember the last blackout?)
--likely cause a brushfire on Miramar, and (depending on which way the wind was blowing) set fire to businesses, houses, and apartments across the freeway.

Things that could go wrong with the plant:
--explosion and/or fire. It's a natural gas plant.
--plane crash. Takeoff is one of the most dangerous times in any flight.
--earthquake. It's 3.5 miles from the Rose Canyon Fault, and in the highest risk zone for coastal San Diego.

Finally, I don't think that the Marine Corps or the FAA has weighed in, but given that a power plant will cause turbulence above it through hot air release, I suspect they will have serious issues. They may also put severe height restrictions on the plant. Given the kerfuffle around that building by Montgomery Field and the 163--didn't that end up with an expensive lawsuit against the city?--we really don't need to go through this. Again.

Leave the site as open space, and find another place. This site is too risky.

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Avatar for user 'Laurie92122'

Laurie92122 | June 26, 2012 at 9:39 a.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

I think the headline of this article is misleading because they gave absolutely no indication that they had any intention of "pulling the plug".

They said it will not be on the November ballot, but these guys have been planning this in secret along with the mayor for two years (without the knowledge of the city council) and they've already thrown a lot of money into it. They are not going to give up easily.

I am a University City homeowner and the parent of a young child. I received a letter from my city council member 6/21 and that was the first time I heard anything about this proposed power plant. My first impression was that it sounded like a bad idea, but I tried to keep an open mind and went to the 6/25 planning group meeting - not to comment, but listen and learn more.

The place was packed. There was standing room only when we got there. After listening to Capital Power’s spiel and a big load of BS from the Mayor’s representative, the citizens really let them have it. People are outraged for a number of very good reasons not the least of which is that if this plant is built it absolutely will have a negative impact on our health and our quality of life. Home owners, prospective home buyers, business owners, local environmentalists, parents, physicians, scientists, engineers, researchers - everyone was strongly against it, including our council member Sheri Lightner and her Republican opponent Ray Ellis. Not one single person voiced support. I left convinced this is a terrible idea and I intend to do whatever I can to help fight it. I don’t want it in my backyard or anyone else’s. Natural gas plants are NOT clean (despite what they will tell you) and we do not need to be building another one when there are better alternatives.

Quote from the letter sent from Capital Power to Mayor Sanders office on 6/25/12: "Rather than have this matter proceed to a city-wide vote in November 2012, our preference would be to begin the public engagement process now, in collaboration with the city, with a view to bringing this item forward in a future election once sufficient engagement has taken place."

TRANSLATION – We know that this thing will not fly if put it to a vote in November, so we are going to dump an insane amount of cash into a PR campaign that we hope will convince voters to accept it at a later date.

So prepare yourself for the onslaught of lies and distortions. It is coming, and when it does I hope you won’t be fooled because our health depends on it.

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