Solana Beach City Council opposes proposed power plant

By Kristina Houck

Solana Beach is the latest city to oppose San Diego Gas & Electric’s plans to open a gas-powered plant to replace electricity once generated by the shut-down San Onofre nuclear plant.

In a unanimous vote, the Solana Beach City Council on Jan. 8 decided to write to California’s Public Utilities Commission to support the Sierra Club, which is against the proposed plant. The Encinitas City Council approved a letter of support at its Dec. 18 meeting.

“SDG&E is looking for a way to continue to fulfill their old business model. Rooftop solar is not on their business plan,” said Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner. “Every time they build [a plant] our bills go up — that’s us as businesses, us as residences, us as schools. I think it makes good sense for us to send a message to them to please stop and take a look at the new world and what is happening. There are smarter ways to do this. Our demand is flat. We do not need to look to more fossil fuel.”

Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission rejected plans to build the Pio Pico Energy Center in the South Bay. SDG&E reapplied in June, after San Onofre was permanently closed. The utilities company had received 20 percent of the plant’s power.

Four public speakers addressed the council in support of the letter, including representatives from Butler Sun Solutions, a Solana Beach-based solar water heater company, and the local Sierra Club.

“We are all together here faced with a monumental decision that’s going to affect the people here in Solana Beach and the whole region for decades,” said Pete Hasapopoulos of the Sierra Club San Diego Chapter, who noted the chapter has 12,000 members in San Diego County, including 185 members from Solana Beach. “The notion that we need more gas plants to take care of life after San Onofre — that’s a notion that’s not temporary. We’re talking about an investment in dirty energy for decades. This is not a small manner.”

The letter, which was written by Councilman David Zito, notes that the plant has been offline for nearly two years “without significant challenge” to the county’s power supply. All council members agreed to sign the letter.

The five-member commission could vote on the matter as soon as Feb. 5.

“I’m really proud of our community and the way we have really been out front on a lot of issues and supported these really serious items,” said Councilman Peter Zahn. “I’m hoping we can really lend our voice to the greater cause, which in the case of San Onofre and the power that gets replaced, that it can be renewable and non-carbon emitting.”