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University City Fired Up About Possible Power Plant

Aired 6/25/12 on KPBS News.

A proposed power plant is firing up the residents of University City. The neighborhood planning association is holding a special meeting on the issue tonight at 6 at University Towne Center.

— The natural gas power plant would be built on land near the 805 Freeway and Nobel Drive. A public vote is needed to approve the lease for the 850-megawatt plant because the lease would last longer than 15 years and the plant would sit on specially designated land.

The University City Planning Group will hold a special meeting tonight at 6 at the UTC Mall to discuss the issue.

San Diego Councilwoman Sherri Lightner represents University City. She said it’s the wrong location for the project.

"There is a lot of multi-family residential just across the freeway. There is a library rec center, a number of employment centers. The University City High School is only three-quarters of a mile away. It’s also in the flight path to Miramar," she said.

Lightner will face Republican Ray Ellis in a run-off election for her council seat this November. Ellis is also opposed to the plant. In a statement his campaign said Ellis is concerned about its proximity to neighborhoods and businesses as well as negative environmental impacts.

A city staff report on the proposal says 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 says 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 a million dollars a year in rent from the lease of the land if the plant is ultimately approved.

The city council’s Rules Committee will discuss putting the issue on the fall ballot at its meeting on Wednesday.

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