Proposed Power Plant May Face High-Level Opposition

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Protesters demonstrate against the proposed Puente Project power plant in Oxnard earlier this year.(Rene Garcia)

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

OXNARD, Calif. – A proposed new natural-gas power plant in Southern California faced concerted opposition at the Coastal Commission meeting this week. On Friday September 9, 2016, members took into consideration a recommendation by staff that the Puente Project be relocated away from the site chosen by the company, NRG, in Oxnard, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

Carmen Ramirez, Oxnard’s mayor pro-tem, said her low-income, primarily Hispanic community doesn’t want a fourth fossil-fuel power plant to pollute the air and threaten their beaches and wetlands.

“No longer should industrial facilities or critical facilities be placed on the California coast, because of sea-level rise,” she said. “It also threatens endangered species. So this is the worst place to put it on the beach in terms of reliability and the damage to the coast.”

The power plant got a major boost when the California Public Utilities Commission approved it in May despite strenuous local opposition.

Ramirez, along with many conservation advocates, was very disappointed with the PUC’s decision.

“And there’s some questions and doubts about its fairness, its impartiality, its service to the public need rather than the needs of private investor-owned utilities, Edison, PG&E and San Diego Gas and Electric,” she added.

The Coastal Commission staff has recommended that the project be built elsewhere and has identified several other locations. But the final authority rests with the California Energy Commission, which is expected to issue a decision in the spring of next year.

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