Groups weigh in on new power plant proposal

CARLSBAD — Another organization has weighed in about the proposed power plant, to be built on the property of the existing Encina Power Station, along Carlsbad Boulevard.
The San Diego Highway Development Association has expressed concerns to
the California Energy Commission about possible conflicts between the expansion of the power plant and the widening of Interstate 5. Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, has plans to widen the I-5 from Mira Mesa to Camp Pendleton. Current plans would put the proposed power plant 40 feet from the freeway, said city officials.
If a conflict does arise, the association has said it will officially oppose the plant.
Caltrans has already issued a letter to the Energy Commission, said Joe Garuba, municipal projects manager for the city of Carlsbad, and the fire chief of the city has also recently written a letter expressing safety concerns. Various organizations, such as the San Diego North Convention and Visitors Bureau, have written letters regarding the location on the coastal bluffs above the Agua Hedionda lagoon.
City officials have expressed concerns over the visual impacts of the two additional proposed smoke stacks and the use of additional prime coastal property, as well as its possible interference with the widening of the I-5 freeway.
The Energy Commission, not the city, will make the final decision.
“There are other cities that have also expressed concern and oppose the plant,” Garuba said. “Del Mar, Solana Beach and the mayor of Vista. It is such a bad location for the power plant.”
The city opposes the power plant expansion at the current power plant location, but has proposed moving it further inland. The new 540-megawatt station, with two power-generating units, will be air-cooled and no longer need the ocean water to cool the system like the existing old plant built in the 1950s.
No plans to tear down the existing plant have been made; however, NRG Energy, the owners of the plant, has said it does have plans to eventually remove the old plant. But officials with NRG West have said they just cannot say when that will happen.
The fate of the future plant will soon be decided.
“The final staff workshop will be in late fall,” Garuba said, with the scheduled hearing later in the year.
NRG Energy has plans to have it up and running by 2011.
For more information, visit the city’s Web site at www.carlsbadca.gov or the California Energy Commission Web site at www.energy.ca.gov/sittingcases/carlsbad.

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