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Days after Dynegy Energy Incorporated filed an application to extend its water discharge permit an additional five years at the 47-year-old South Bay Power Plant, Chula Vista deputy mayor Rudy Ramirez reached out to residents and local environmental advocates to discuss the proposed extension.

According to Ramirez' July 8 press release, "The South Bay Power Plant has served its purpose. It's time for our community members to look toward the eventual removal of the plant."

Dynegy's permit allows the collection of water from the bay to cool the plant's generators. The water, heated after cooling the plant's generators, is then discharged back into the bay. The "once-through cooling" process, as it is called, is considered harmful to marine life and coastal habitats.

In 2006, the California State Lands Commission estimated that the "once-through cooling" process at the 21 coastal power plants in California "significantly harms the environment by killing large numbers of fish and other wildlife, larvae, and eggs as they are drawn through the screens and other parts of the power-plant cooling system...and adversely affects marine, bay, and estuarine environments by raising the temperature of the receiving waters, killing and displacing wildlife and plant life."

California's State Water Board is the agency that issues water discharge permits. Board members have called for operations at South Bay Power Plant to end on December 31, 2011. The new permit application, if approved, would extend that date and delay dismantling of the plant and any future plans for commercial development of the bay front, development that local politicians believe is crucial to solve the City's current deficit.

Councilmember Ramirez will call the community outreach meeting to order at 6 p.m. on July 13 at the South Chula Vista Branch Library. Representatives from Environmental Health Coalition and officials from the Port of San Diego will join Ramirez for the discussion.

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xians421 July 10, 2010 @ 6:02 p.m.

I'm no fan of 'once through' but to look on the bright side, the warmer water supports otherwise non-existent marine life such as Mexican Down lookers and Sea Turtles.


road_surfer July 12, 2010 @ 3:16 p.m.

Our leaders have been "looking forward to" the closing of South Bay Power Plant for a very long time. "looking forward", sometimes called "planning", involves providing security, stability, and safety for the community. How are they going to replace the tax revenue the city has been enjoying for so many years? How are they going to replace the good-paying jobs? Who will pull the trash out of the bay when the staff of the power plant is gone? Who will monitor the water conditions? Who will keep the turtles warm?

Now, if you would, fact-check the excerpt "The new permit application, if approved, would extend that date and delay dismantling of the plant and any future plans for commercial development of the bay front". The statment is seriously misleading. The permits come in 5-year increments. Dynegy has stated repeatedly that they intend to shut the plant when CAISO says it is not needed. Already, two of the four units are shut. You can't make money with power plant that doesn't produce power, and South Bay has run only a few days all year. Part of the current redevelopment plan is calling for hotel/office towers in the marina area of Chula Vista. The high-density occupation will be far worse for the bay than anyone has let on. Likewise for the football stadium idea.

How can proponents of these projects try to have the power plant removed on ecological grounds while they trumpet the allure of glitzy development? The developers are tempting the politicians with short-term rewards of glittering buildings and construction jobs. Construction jobs evaporate like water in Indio. And the towers all look like crap in 20 years. Please do something that will add long-term value to this beautiful place.

Get a grip on reality. Build a new, efficient power plant to provide stable power to Chula Vista and environs and to provide a valuable tax base. Build it away from the coast, say off the 125 somewhere, and use air-cooling with recycled water. Put some of the money into the tired, run-down schools in the old part of town (you know, the low-rent side) and show some pride in your town. I look forward to meeting Rudy and hope he's not just another chucklehead skimming money and power off a position of civic responsibility.


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