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Ventura County News Roundup

COUNTYWIDE : Lung Assn. Fights Utilities Merger

July 02, 1990|KIRSTEN LEE SWARTZ

Citing potential air pollution and health problems, the American Lung Assn. of California has joined Oxnard and Simi Valley officials in opposing the merger of Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.

If the merger is approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, Edison will increase production at its two power plants in Oxnard while curtailing operations at plants in San Diego.

Edison has promised the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District that it will reduce pollutant emissions to levels it says would compensate for increases the merger will generate. Those reductions would not begin until 1996, officials said.

In the agreement, Edison officials said they would reduce the level of county pollutants in part by replacing internal combustion engines with electric motors at the company's plants at Ormond Beach and Mandalay Bay in south Oxnard.

But the lung association, in a June 27 letter to Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Madge L. Schaefer, said electric motors are "highly profitable" for Edison and that the company could profit from the conversion in only two years through increased sales of electricity.

Further, the association charged that Edison has already begun a conversion program for profit so "the agreement achieves nothing for air quality that would not happen anyway."

The lung association called the agreement between the county and Edison premature and imprudent. It asked that the Air Pollution Control District suspend its agreement until officials examine the merger's potential impact on air quality.

The lung association sent a position paper and petition signed by 130 county residents to the Public Utilities Commission on Friday. It stated that the merger could increase nitrogen oxide emissions in the county and called the shift of power generation unacceptable.

Last week, Simi Valley City Council members agreed to send a letter to the Public Utilities Commission and the Board of Supervisors stating that the merger will threaten the county's air quality.

Oxnard officials also have expressed disapproval.

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