Residents updated on power plant proposals

CARLSBAD — Residents have had several chances recently to hear the latest regarding a proposed power plant to be built along coastal property in Carlsbad.
NRG West, the operators of the Encina Power Station, gave an informational update Oct. 30 to members of Imagine Carlsbad, a nonprofit citizens group, on its plans to expand the existing plant on Carlsbad Boulevard. And on Nov. 6, the city of Carlsbad hosted a community forum at its offices on Faraday Drive.
Last month, City Council heard an update from city staff about the latest in the series of communications with NRG West. City officials have said they support a new power generating plant somewhere in the city; however, they don’t approve of the site of the current plant.
Neither the city nor City Council has final approval of the facility, as it falls under the jurisdiction of the California Energy Commission, Scott Donnell, a senior planner for the city of Carlsbad, said. The city can only make recommendations, he added.
“We don’t anticipate that the California Energy Commission will have a final decision on the project until the early quarter of 2010,” Donnell said.
A recent mailing sent out by the city of Carlsbad outlined its position. Among the city’s proposed ideas are the demolition of the existing plant, which is not part of the proposal of the new plant, and alternative industrial sites. The city is also concerned with the significant visual impacts on the views.
Although the city’s South Coastal Redevelopment Plan called for a new power plant at the site of the current plant, new technology now allows the facility to be moved inland.
According to Tim Hemig, project manager for NRG West, the new plant will be air-cooled, but will use some water. However, unlike the existing plant, the new plant will not use salt water, but it will still need some “fresh” water, he said. After some debate as to where the water will come from, officials announced at the recent council meeting that they plan to build their own desal plant on the property.
Poseidon Resources, a recently approved desalination plant proposed to be built on the same property, is open to the possibility of working to supply that need in the future according to Vice President Peter MacLaggan. The desal plant hopes to be up and running by 2010.
The California Energy Commission’s preliminary staff assessment, once scheduled for April 2008, is due to be completed sometime between November 2008 and April 2009, officials said.
For more information, visit the city’s Web site at www.carlsbadca.gov.

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