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Solana Beach OKs letter urging clean energy

SOLANA BEACH — Like the adjacent cities to its north and south, Solana Beach agreed to send a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission urging the state agency to consider clean energy resources rather than new fossil-fuel-based power plants to replace power previously generated from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

“The clean energy industry is growing rapidly in our region and is providing stable, long-term, high paying jobs for our residents,” the letter states.

“Spending billions of dollars on new natural gas plants would create a negative impact on our economic prosperity by burdening ratepayers with the cost of new expensive energy which we don’t need and at a time when our constituents are also faced with the prospect of paying for the decommissioning costs of San Onofre,” it continues.

The letter also states building new fossil fuel plants is contrary to the city’s climate action plan because the facilities would increase greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

SONGS has not been generating power since January 2012, when it was shut down because of a small radiation leak that resulted from premature wear on tubes in its steam generators. Efforts to restart the plant were unsuccessful and it was permanently retired this past June.

The letter notes that during the past two years without SONGS there have been no significant challenges to local power supplies.

According to San Diego Gas & Electric, a minority owner of SONGS, conservation, clean energy and natural gas are being used to make up lost power from the nuclear plant. Officials say renewable resources such as solar and wind are not enough.

One speaker at the Jan. 8 City Council meeting disagrees.

“You hear a lot of people say that solar can’t do the job, but that’s wrong,” Roger Davenport said. “For the last five years we’ve been living in a house that’s completely powered by solar energy. We are powered by what falls on our garage roof.

“Hopefully we can get more solar instead of more nukes or gas … plants,” he added.

The letter is being sent as the CPUC is considering approval of the Pio Pico Energy Center in Otay Mesa, which it rejected about a year ago. SDG&E reapplied to build the plant in June after SONGS, which provided about 19 percent of the region’s energy, was shuttered.

“We are all together here faced with a monumental decision that’s going to affect the people here in Solana Beach and our whole region for decades,” said Pete Hasapopoulos, a representative from the Sierra Club, which requested the letter from Solana Beach.

“The notion that we need more gas plants to take care of life after San Onofre, that’s … not temporary,” he said. “We’re talking about an investment in dirty energy for decades. So this is not a small matter. We’re beyond the days of talking about, ‘Hey, someday we’re going to have all this green energy. And we’re going to have a green economy. We’re already here.

“San Onofre has been down nearly two years and we have not had related blackouts because of that,” Hasapopoulos added. “The notion that the lights are not going to stay on simply is not true.”

“This is really important,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said. “What they’re proposing is peaker plants. Those are plants that are used in extreme cases when usually it’s because we’ve got hot weather. What’s at the peak? Our sunshine, so I think that we’d be able to replace it with that.”

Encinitas and Del Mar approved sending similar letters to the CPUC in December.