The California Public Utilities Commission greenlit Oxnard’s Puente Power Project at a May 26 meeting in San Francisco.
In a 5-0 vote, the commission unanimously approved a contract between Southern California Edison and Houston-based NRG Energy to build a 262-megawatt peaker plant on the site of the 57-year-old Mandalay Generating Station.
Over the past several months the proposed plant has drawn the ire of community members and environmentalists who want Oxnard’s Mandalay Beach restored and used for recreation.
The new plant is a type of plant needed to produce energy when the electric grid needs extra power during peak use times, such as evenings. The current plant is cooled with seawater, but environmental regulations will not allow seawater-cooled plants after 2020.
If built, the project is expected to be finished by the end of 2020.
Before the plant can be built it still needs final approval from the California Energy Commission, which is expected to vote later this year.
After the vote, NRG was happy with the decision.
“We are pleased that the commission recognizes the value of NRG’s 262 MW Puente project, a reliable, fast-ramping, flexible plant that meets the special needs of the area and the California electric grid,” NRG said in a statement to the Business Times. “We are confident that the California Energy Commission will also find that Puente is the right plant with the right technology in the right location.”
For months, Oxnard City Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez has been an outspoken critic of the proposal. Ramirez again told the Business Times that big industries need to back off of Oxnard’s beaches.
” I’m not pleased but we’re not at the end of the road,” Ramirez said. “It’s a continuation of Oxnard being a home to all these big industries on the beach, but we’re going to go forward.
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