Scott Marks 4:26 p.m., May 21
In a move that will no doubt please local political consultants and broadcasters, a power giant from Edmonton, Canada is exploring ways to finance a campaign for a new generating plant in the city, according to a recent advice letter to the company from the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.
The March 5 letter, addressed to Jesse Mainardi, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Sutton Law Firm, concludes that it is legal for the Canadian company, Capital Power Corporation, to fund a San Diego campaign finance committee through its wholly-owned American subsidiary, Capital Power US Holdings.
"US Holdings seeks to build a power generation plant in the City of San Diego," says the advice letter, signed by FPPC general counsel Zackery P. Morazzini.
"This new plant must first be approved by city voters through a ballot measure expected to be on the November 2012 ballot.
"US Holdings wishes to establish a committee to support the passage of the measure."
The letter goes on to say that "US Holdings will make the payments to the [finance] committee" from funds "generated by its United States operations."
"An employee of US Operations who is a United States citizen will determine the amount of contributions to be made by US Investments to the committee and will be vested with sole authority to administer the committee, making and authorizing all committee expenditures."
In light of that, Morazzini's letter concludes, the Canadian-sponsored measure would not violate California's ban against campaign funding by foreign interests.
"Because decisions to contribute or expend funds will not be made by an officer, director, or management employee of a foreign corporation who is neither a citizen of the United States nor a lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States, neither US Investments nor US Operations qualifies as a 'foreign principal' under Section 85320(c)(4)."
According to a write-up last year by the Phoenix Business Journal, Capital Power told of its intention to build power plants around the Southwest, but would not provide any specifics.
“We can’t speculate,” company spokesman Mike Long told the paper.
A November 2009 story in the Edmonton Journal reported: "In the Southwest, Capital Power would like to build on its power projects in San Diego and Oxnard with other projects in California and the Arizona and Nevada region."
Reached by phone this morning at the company offices in Edmonton, Capital Power's Michael Sheehan said he wasn't aware of any immediate plans to build a plant in San Diego, but would look into the matter.
We'll update here when the company gets back to us.
A plan already announced by North Carolina-based Cogentrix Energy to build the Quail Brush Power Plant has already created widespread controversy.