Santa Paula: Mission Rock Peaker Plant Oppostion

By Sheryl Hamlin

Item 12 A on the regular agenda for September 19, 2016 included a resolution opposing the proposed gas fired peaker plant on the Mission Rock site owned by Calpine.

The text of the proposed 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 (NRG) won the Southern California Edison bid to supply power to the Moorpark Sub-area. Calpine did not win the bid. However, they purchased a land site near the Santa Paula City limits now referred to as the Mission Rock Peaker Plant site. They hope to develop this as an alternative location to the one proposed along the Oxnard Coastline.
B. The California Energy Commission (CEC) siting Process includes the evaluation of alternate sites. Calpine has been working to develop the Mission Rock Peaker Plant site as an alternative site.
C. Despite opposition from Santa Paula residents, Calpine continues to go through the California Energy Commission process to entitle a Peaker Plant facility at the MREC location.
D. At the April 4, 2016 Santa Paula City Council meeting there was considerable public opposition to the project. The overwhelming public opposition continued to be voiced at two other public sessions.
E. The proposed MREC location would pose a risk to health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Santa Paula as well as County residents within the areas within the current sphere of the MREC.
SECTION 2: The City Council of the City of Santa Paula hereby opposes the development of a Peaker Plant Facility at the MREC location owned by Calpine.
SECTION 3: The City Manager or his designee is directed to forward this resolution to all private and/or governmental parties involved in the review and approval process for the development of the Calpine Peaker Plant at the Todd Road location.
SECTION 4: This Resolution will become effective immediately upon adoption.

The motion was presented by City Manager Jaime Fontes to the council on September 19, 2016 warning the council that the recent California Coastal Commission decision against locating the Mandalay Beach plant on the coast puts pressure for the Calpine Mission Rock location to resurface. Recall that the Calpine location is an alternate site to the Mandalay (Puente) Project in addition to being a stand-alone project not associated with an energy contract. Calpine is clearly covering all contingencies. Twelve (12) citizens spoke against the plant.


Council Member Gherardi suggested the inclusion of the letter which the council had previously sent to the California Energy Commission. She also pointed out that the CEC votes. Santa Paula has no vote, she said, so we have to look at what the city controls, which is water and access, suggesting a clause be added about not supplying water for the plant from the city’s waste water facility. She also suggested they meet with Limoneira to reconsider their commitment to supply water.

Council Member Procter noted that the project will bring in $500,000 to Briggs and Santa Paula School Districts and he liked Council Member Gherardi’s suggestions.

Mayor Hernandez says the motion “implies” the city won’t give water by the total opposition to the project noted in Section 2, saying we can’t “wordsmith” the motion at this point due to the time constraints.

Vice Mayor Crosswhite questioned how a plant so close to the city could be zoned for a peaker plant and felt the motion lacked specificity and “teeth”.

Mayor Hernandez reiterated that the city has no jurisdiction in this case because it is not in the city limits and no decision-making authority.

Council Member Procter agrees with the water idea saying it gives the motion “teeth”. Council Member Tovias reminded the council that the water deliver is the key to stopping the jail expansion.

Council Member Gherardi said there is no deadline at this time but wanted to have it in writing with all details, such as water. Council Member Procter concurred.

The council voted to revisit the motion with the modifications at a future meeting along with a letter to Limoneira.

Citizens Journal has been writing on both the Mandalay plant and the Calpine plant for several years and as one speaker pointed out, two members of the council have been aware of this project for several years. Read the articles here.

Grid Politics

Governor Brown is looking to create a Regional Power Grid to sell California’s excess solar power. This project would be run by CalISO, the California grid operator. The idea is not without controversy.

The neighboring states to be included already produce energy with coal and nuclear plants. Will they be willing to dismantle those plants? How will the storage issue be solved? Does adding more peaker plants make sense? CalISO is planning to partner with PacificCorp, which has met opposition. The notion of adding dozens of 50 Megawatt peaker plants around the state that could meet the needs when renewables are not adequate appeals to some. Note that CalISO, not the CEC, can approve 50 Megawatts or less. In either case, the Puente alternative or the CalISO Regional grid, could make the Mission Rock more probable.

Event Reminder “Take me to the Parkway” event is Saturday, Septembetr 24, 2016.

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