CARLSBAD — City Council unanimously approved an emergency moratorium on power plant construction in the coastal zone at the Oct. 20 meeting.
City staff delivered a presentation detailing alternatives to building a second power plant along the Carlsbad coastline. As technology advances and power demands decrease, the city will not need the extra power generated by an additional plant.
“Power plants are no longer coastally dependent,” Municipal Project Manager Joe Garuba said. He pointed to both the Palomar and Otay Mesa power plants as shining examples of success away from the beautiful coastline.
The emergency moratorium “will freeze expansion or proposal of new power plants in the coastal zone” Garuba said. City staff will have up to two additional years to further study the land and make recommendations to proceed in the future.
Assistant City Attorney Jane Mobaldi explained that it was not a “spot zoning issue” — targeting an individual property — but instead an opportunity to evaluate and preserve the coastline.
Representatives from NRG Energy, the company proposing the additional power plant units, were clearly upset that the last two years of discussion resulted in an abrupt halt.
“We’re a little disappointed to be here this evening,” said Ron Rouse, representing NRG. “Common sense shows two years of active intervention doesn’t result in an emergency on Oct. 20, 2009.”
However, the council has worked with various owners of the property for years and has always faced difficulty. “To have two power plants on this site is unforgivable,” Mayor Bud Lewis said. “This isn’t something we’re taking lightly.”
Members of Power of Vision, a local group dedicated to fighting against the second power plant, filled the audience and offered praise to the council for their decision.
“I want to compliment you on this forward looking motion and reassure you that it will not have any negative impact on our region’s energy needs,” Power of Vision co-founder Arnold Roe said.
Residents that have been fighting against the construction of a second power plant for the past two years were also delighted by the council’s decision. Kerry Siekmann lives just south of the existing power plant and is hopeful that another plant will not be built in the future.
“This is just one small step,” said an excited Siekmann. “We still have a huge fight to make.”
The huge fight will continue against the California Energy Commission, or CEC.
Although the council approved the moratorium, the CEC will have the final say in determining the use of the land. Staff and residents will continue to fight against the power plant to show the CEC that it is not needed, nor is it wanted, in Carlsbad.