Santa Paula: Council Opposes Mission Rock Peaker Plant

By Sheryl Hamlinsanta.paula

After numerous meetings and citizen dialogues, the city of Santa Paula has taken formal objection to the Mission Rock peaker plant. To read previous articles about the proposed peaker plant, click here.

In a letter to be sent to the California Energy Commission (CEC) drafted by City Manager Fontes and Attorney Cotti, the city objects to the plant on environmental and social issues, as well as denying Calpine any water, either potable or non-potable, from city sources, should the Limoneira agreement fail.

The full text of the resolution follows:

The City Council of the City of Santa Paula does resolve as follows:
SECTION 1: The City Council finds and declares as follows:
A. NRG Energy, LLC, contracted with Southern California Edison to construct a 262 megawatt natural gas-fired “peaker” plant in Oxnard (the Puente power plant) to replace the Mandalay power plant scheduled to go off-line in 2020. Mission Rock Energy Center, LLC (MREC), wholly owned by the Calpine Corporation, was authorized by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to submit an application for a similar facility at 1025 Mission Rock Road.
B. On December 30, 2015, MREC submitted its Application for Certification to the CEC, which seeks authority to construct, own and operate a gas-fired, electrical generating facility rated at a capacity of 275 megawatts at the Mission Rock site (the MREC Plant).
C. The MREC site is 9.79 acres and is currently used for recreational vehicle and boat storage. The MREC site is located in the Santa Clara River Valley in unincorporated Ventura County about two miles west of Santa Paula.
D. Despite the MREC Plant’s proximity to the City, the City was not provided notice of the Application until March, 2016.
E. On March 21, 2016 and April 4, 2016, the City Council of the City of Santa Paula received and discussed public comments regarding the proposed MREC Plant. The comments received from City residents were overwhelmingly negative and focused on the negative impacts the MREC Plant would have on the residents of Santa Paula, including, among others, increasing local air pollution, impacting local agricultural land and operations, and diminishing the natural views of the Santa Clara Valley.
F. On May 13, 2016, the City of Santa Paula sent a letter under Mayor Martin Hernandez’ signature outlining a series of questions and concerns about the Project. The CEC docketed the letter on May 16, 2016 and identified it as TN No. 211496. To date, the questions raised in the letter have gone unanswered and the record does not contain substantial evidence that the concerns raised can be mitigated in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Santa Paula or the Santa Clara River Valley.

G. On July 28, 2016, a committee of the CEC conducted an Environmental Scoping Meeting and Informational Hearing in the City. The meeting was attended by over 250 people. Of the 75 who spoke, only three spoke in favor of the MREC Plant.
H. On August 1, 2016, MREC objected to requests for information from the CEC. MREC’s refusal to provide the requested information may result in the approval of a flawed operating permit. More troubling, MREC’s refusal to provide requested information may foretell MREC’s response to demands for information once operational.
SECTION 2: Based on the foregoing, the City Council of the City of Santa Paula hereby opposes the MREC Plant and urges the California Energy Commission to deny MREC’s application for certification of the MREC Plant. Additionally, the City of Santa Paula will not provide potable or recycled water to the MREC Plant.
SECTION 3: The City Manager or his designee is directed to forward this resolution to all Ventura County cities, the Board of Supervisors, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and all elected State officials representing Santa Paula.
SECTION 4: This Resolution will become effective immediately upon adoption.
PASSED AND ADOPTED this 17th day of October, 2016


Public Speakers at Council meeting. Oct 17, 2016

Delton Lee Johnson suggested Council Member Gherardi present the letter in person and also suggested a letter to Limoneira urging them to deny water to Calpine. Finally he suggested a “water conservation/aquafier(sic) preservation ordinance which would deny building permits and all city services to any developer engaged in selling water obtained via rights for agricultural/food production purposes to any company engaged in using it for purposes whereby it is not returned to the aquifer.”

Nina Danza of the Sierra Club, who recently sponsored the seminar and tour of the Santa Clara River, thanked the council for “rejecting a project that will have long term negative effects on the city”.

Former Mayor Mary Ann Krause said she echoed Ms. Danza and added that a team of specialists from the newly formed organization Santa Paula Alliance (SPA) was researching technical issues. She also said that Thomas Koff had volunteered to be an intervenor. Asked about a CEC Intervenor, it was explained that an intervenor sits with the commissioners and is allowed to question and respond to respondents. Ms. Krause also suggested that the city and SPA form a closer relationship vis-à-vis the peaker plant. Mayor Hernandez expressed interest in this concept.

Nate Pidduck urged adoption and suggested Santa Paula become an intervenor and to write Limoneira about the sale of the water. Click here to read the letter from Limoneira granting sale of their water.


Council Discussion

It was noted that Oxnard had become an intervenor in the Puente Peaker Plant, an expensive task for which Santa Paula does not have the funds.

Council Member Gherardi suggested a “friendly letter” be drafted to Limoneira by Attorney Cotti. This was added to the motion to which all agreed.

To read about the Mission Rock Plant click here and Puente Project in Oxnard click here. The Mission Rock site owned by Calpine is an official alternate site in the Puente Project, although NRG won the bid for the Puente Project. Additionally Calpine has submitted a stand-alone application to the CEC to certify its site for a gas fired plant.

For a full packet and video of the meeting, click here.


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