|Residents fight proposed Calpine power plant
by Helen Englesberg
Residents of Pajaro and the surrounding northern Monterey county community have
been working to stop the construction of a proposed 45-megawatt power plant on
the flood plain in a redevelopment zone. Residents are questioning whether this
plant is in the best interest of the community and are concerned about the impact
on the environmental and economic health of Pajaro.
of the proposed Calpine peaker power plant in Pajaro. Imagine an 80-foot high
smokestack on a building in this floodplain.
The Calpine Plant will use a substantial amount of water. At the present time,
the Pajaro valley suffers from serious overdraft and salt water intrusion. Measure
N, which was passed last year by the voters, gave the Pajaro Water Management
Agency the authority to construct a pipeline to import water specifically for
agriculture. At the present time, no water contracts have been signed, and there
is no pipeline.
Other issues of concern include noise, air quality, unfunded cost of the infrastructure
necessary for the building and operation of the plant and environmental justice.
The area where the plant is proposed is a low-income neighborhood where many residents
are Spanish speaking.
Whether or not such a peaker plant is even needed is questioned by many. The proposed
site is within five miles of the states largest natural-gas power plant
at Moss Landing which has enough excess capacity to offer discounted power for
the operation of a desalinization plant proposed for Moss Landing.
Monterey County Planning Staff have recommended that the Planning Commission adopt
a mitigated negative declaration based on a Revised Initial Study. An EIR has
not been recommended. Residents are concerned about the quality of the study since
the biological field survey was conducted in September. They have been told that
the September choice is justified because there is little likelihood of finding
special status species on the disturbed site.
The Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club has requested a full EIR as required by
CEQA for a project of this magnitude.
The hearing for the permit to build this power plant is tentatively scheduled
for November 13th. Agendas and staff reports are available at here.
Opponents of the plant urge concerned people to attend this hearing and also write
to the Monterey Planning Commission Members and the Board of Supervisors. For
more information, contact Helen Englesberg. 768-9837.