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San Diego City Council Unanimously Votes Down Quail Brush Power Plant

Aired 9/25/12 on KPBS News.

A proposal for a power plant adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park, the state's largest municipally owned park, was unanimously voted down today by the San Diego City Council.

Aired 9/24/12 on KPBS News.

The San Diego City Council today will weigh in on whether the city should put a power plant near Mission Trails Regional Park.

A rendering of the proposed Quail Brush Power Plant.
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Above: A rendering of the proposed Quail Brush Power Plant.

— A proposal for a power plant adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park, the state's largest municipally owned park, was unanimously voted down today by the San Diego City Council.

The Quail Brush Energy Generation Project proposed by Charlotte, N.C.-based Cogentrix raised the ire of environmentalists, residents of Santee and the Santee School District. It was previously rejected by the city of San Diego's Planning Commission, prompting a company appeal directly to the City Council.

Council members were asked whether to have city staff initiate studies on the proposal for the 100-megawatt plant on almost 22 acres near the Sycamore Landfill, close to state Route 52 and Mast Boulevard and down the street from residential neighborhoods and West Hills High School.

The council members said after about two hours of public testimony that they understood the need for more energy resources. But the Cogentrix proposal for a "peaker plant'' -- which would be turned on only during periods of high energy demand -- was simply in the wrong location, they indicated.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said she objected to "converting land designated as open space to industrial use, and also its proximity to schools and its overall impact to Mission Trails Regional Park.'' She also said the city would save hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees by denying the project.

But the final decision on whether the plant will be allowed rests with the California Energy Commission. Under questioning by Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, a CEC representative said the agency will consider the city's opposition.

A representative of Cogentrix refused to withdraw the company's proposal in advance of the CEC's ruling.

The coalition opposed to the plant included the Sierra Club, Save Mission Trails, the League of Women Voters of San Diego, San Diego Audubon Society, the Environmental Health Coalition, Preserve Wild Santee and SanDiego350.org.

Their speakers said the plant was incompatible with the area and could be located elsewhere, and that solar energy was more efficient.

San Diego's Planning Commission had already voted against the proposed plant.

But in the end it may not be up to San Diego to make the final call. The California Energy Commission can override any local decision if it deems the project is in the public’s interest.

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