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Fast-Track Power Plant Proposal Advances

Energy: Natural gas-fueled generating station in Burbank could be up and running by 2004.


The California Energy Commission moved to possibly speed up a proposal for a 240-megawatt power plant in Burbank by formally accepting the license application, officials said Wednesday.

If the six-month application process goes smoothly and a license is granted, construction of the Magnolia Power Project could begin by the middle of next year. The process often takes a year or more.

"Our goal is to have it ready on the fast track by the start of summer 2004," said Ed Fruedenburg of the Southern California Public Power Authority, which would own the natural gas-fueled plant.

Operated by Burbank Water and Power, the plant would provide electricity to at least 240,000 homes in Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, Colton, Anaheim, Cerritos and San Marcos, in San Diego County.

The plant would cost about $200 million to build, with annual operating costs between $8 million and $10 million, plus the cost of natural gas to run it, officials said.

In turn, it would offer competitive rates to its member customers--about 5 cents per kilowatt hour, or about one-tenth the price paid by the state in winter and spring this year, officials said.

Except for solar-, wind- and hydro-powered plants, natural gas-fueled plants are the least-polluting electricity producers, said Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power and coordinating chairman of the Magnolia plant. "It's as clean as it gets," Davis said. "My local generators now in two weeks running can give off more pollutants than the new plants will produce in an entire year."

Davis also noted that although the United States imports liquid natural gas from Mexico and Canada, it is not dependent on overseas imports and therefore should not be affected by possible conflicts in the Middle East.

In accepting the application Tuesday, the commission began a 45-day public review period.

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