For Immediate Release: January 23, 2009
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989


Proposed decision released for Chula Vista power plant

Sacramento -- A California Energy Commission committee assigned to review a proposed San Diego County power plant today recommended that the plant's application be denied.

In a presiding member's proposed decision (PMPD), the committee, led by Commission Vice Chairman James Boyd cites concerns that the 100-megawatt (MW) Chula Vista Energy Upgrade Project (CVEUP) peaking power facility would be inconsistent with the goals of the city of Chula Vista's general plan and zoning ordinance "to separate industrial and residential uses."

The PMPD is NOT a final decision on the project. The document will now be available for 30 days of public comments after which the Committee will consider input before bringing the proposed decision before the full Commission.

The $80-million CVEUP would provide power only during peak hours. It would be built in the city's Main Street district on a parcel occupied by an eight-year-old 44.5-MW peaker plant that the upgrade project is intended to replace.

The PMPD concludes that the CVEUP would be problematic because the city's new general plan adopted after the existing power plant was built requires that the siting of power plants and other major toxic emitters be avoided within 1,000 feet of "sensitive receptors" such as schools and homes.

The plant site is within 1300 feet of an elementary school and 350 feet from a residential area. The PMPD states that the record does not contain sufficient evidence to show that placing the project at the proposed location cannot be avoided.

The PMPD also asserts that the proposed facility would run counter to both the city's general plan and zoning ordinance aimed at maintaining the Main Street Corridor as a light industrial district. The city's zoning ordinance provides that electrical generating facilities are to be placed in the general industrial zone.

According to the PMPD, the proposed facility is also not eligible for a Conditional Use Permit under the city's zoning ordinance because it is neither listed as a conditional use in the limited industrial zone, nor is it similar in character to listed conditional uses.

The PMPD also indicates that the proposed facility would violate Chula Vista's zoning ordinance because the zoning for the proposed site requires submission and approval of a precise plan. There is no evidence in the record that MMC Energy, the power plant applicant has submitted such a plan.

In a final staff assessment (FSA) on the project released on August 28, 2008, staff of the Energy Commission recommended that the project, as currently proposed, would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations and standards.

However, the PMPD states that the analysis of reasonable alternatives to the project or to the location of the project in the FSA and the plant's application for certification fails to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and CEQA equivalent process. The PMPD concludes that further analysis of alternatives is required if the applicant wants to reopen the evidentiary record to present more evidence on this issue.

Vice Chair Boyd, the Committee's associate member, became presiding member of the Chula Vista Upgrade Project Committee following the departure of Energy Commission Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. Pfannenstiel's term as a Commissioner ended on January 6, 2009.

More information on the Chula Vista Upgrade Project is available at:

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