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Oxnard panel rejects power plant plan

June 30, 2007|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

The Oxnard Planning Commission has rejected Southern California Edison's plan to build a state-mandated mini power plant at Mandalay Beach.

The commission voted 5 to 2 Thursday night against Edison's proposal to build a $50-million natural gas-powered plant next to a larger existing generating station along the city's coastline.

State Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey directed Edison in August to produce an additional 250 megawatts of power by this summer to avoid shortages.

Edison is building four 45-megawatt "peaker" plants -- in Norwalk, Ontario, Stanton and Rancho Cucamonga -- as part of a $250-million plan to boost capacity. Edison officials say the scattered plants are needed, in part, as protection against a potential earthquake crippling its supply network.

These small plants, which each would provide enough energy to power 29,250 homes, also could be revved up quickly in the event of a power shortage.

But planning commissioners focused on fears that an 80-foot smokestack connected to the new plant would further encroach on Oxnard Airport's flight paths. There were also concerns about whether the city really needs an additional power plant.

Along with the 450-megawatt Reliant Energy plant at Mandalay Beach, the company owns an aging peaker plant across town and a major 1,500-megawatt plant down the coast at environmentally sensitive Ormond Beach.

"The potential negative effects on our wildlife and the environmental systems" is unacceptable, Commissioner Saul Medina said Friday. "It's a quality of life issue. Enough is enough."

Edison has 18 days to appeal the decision to the Oxnard City Council. If unsuccessful, the plan could be further appealed to the California Coastal Commission, which has jurisdiction because the property lies within the state's coastal zone.

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greg.griggs@latimes.com

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