After continual protests and cries of environmental concerns, a California municipal utility has decided to table a natural gas re-powering project in order to explore renewable energy options.
The Glendale Water and Power Commission — a local municipal district located in southern California — voted on April 2 to postpone a million-dollar project, the Grayson Power Plant Repowering Project, and issued a 90-day request for information on other “clean” energy options.
The Grayson Power Plant is a nearly 80-year-old gas powered facility located in an industrial section of Glendale. The plant has proven unreliable and inefficient, with a whopping seven of its eight electrical-generation units needing to be replaced or face failure within the next decade. The Grayson Power Plant Repowering Project is a $500-million renovation proposal meant to update the plant, make the units more clean, efficient and dependable.
The dismantling and rebuilding of an old generating unit — referred to as “re-powering” — is needed at the Grayson Power Plant in order for the area to meet its energy needs and pass future upcoming air-quality risk tests.
The project, however, has been met with open hostility from local environmental activists, who believe plans for a 310 MW natural gas plant should be scrapped for renewable energy alternatives. Roughly 200 protesters rallied outside Glendale City Hall on Jan. 23 to demand the city forgo re-powering the Grayson Power Plant. Organized by the Glendale Environmental Coalition, protest leaders said they did not trust Glendale Water & Power to produce a fair assessment of the city’s energy needs.
The protests will continue on. More than 500 people are expected to rally Tuesday as the Glendale City Council meets to conduct a review the commission’s actions.
“The fact that Glendale is even considering approving a $500 million gas plant without first getting the facts about clean energy options is hugely disturbing,” Glendale Environmental Coalition spokesman Dan Brotman stated. “Evidence from around California proves there are viable alternatives to gas that are cleaner, more reliable, and less expensive.”
Brotman’s statements, however, come in conflict with assessments made from experts who have conducted a review of the ageing plant. During his presentation on the repowering project, scientist Michael Weber determined the “other alternatives” considered in the study, including rooftop solar distribution and power-plant cooling alternatives, were unfeasible and actually resulted in greater environmental impact.
Many incorrect narratives were circulating among Glendale residents that the City Office of Communications had to create a “rumor page” website to address the number of false statements made about the re-powering project.
Further delay of the re-powerng project is simply “not an option,” General manager of Glendale Water & Power Steve Zurn argued.
“I’m not willing to gamble on unproven technology or some combination of a bunch of factors coming together in order to make sure that we provide power,” Zurn stated during the April 2 meeting. “Reliability means having sufficient resources in place — renewable or nonrenewable — to get us the type of power we need when we need it under any circumstance.”
Despite this, the Glendale Water and Power Commission decided to keep looking at renewable options.
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