We had a record breaking turnout last Tuesday night of close to 500 people in opposition to the Grayson gas plant expansion. Over 300 people wrote comment letters and something like 70-80 spoke.
GWP took up the first two and a half hours of the meeting to give an update on the project. This included slideshows from the project’s owner engineer, Stantec, Siemens, and GWP staff.
From 8:30 to 10pm the public was given the chance to address the council one minute at a time. Three people were granted an additional two or three minutes.
After a short break, the council deliberated for another hour and a half. Everyone was exhausted. Coucilmember Sinanyan – the champion of our cause – raised a motion to pause the review process for the gas plant and immediately launch an unbiased study of clean energy alternatives. It was a strong motion, with everything we could have asked for. Unfortunately, there was a bit of confusion on the dais, and he didn’t manage to get a second to the motion. So the opportunity passed. For now.
Note that all Council really agreed to do was to let GWP stick to their original plan for completing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and presenting it in late March. This means we don’t get our pause – although to be honest the EIR is almost done so it doesn’t mean all that much. But we still have a good chance to get Council to set the completed EIR aside without certifying it or approving the project, and launching the study we want at that time. So we really haven’t lost much. We hoped to get a win so it’s disappointing, BUT we can get our win in March. So long as we all stick together and keep the pressure on.
Council also agreed on some language about having GWP come back with a smaller gas alternative coupled with storage or other renewables. They were already working on this. Our guess is they’ll come back with a 200 MW plant (vs. 250 MW in the original plan) plus storage. But this will still be 200 MW too much. Or at least too much until they’ve turned over every stone to see if we can replace the old plant without new gas. That’s our goal – to get an unbiased matrix of the options that can get us to a clean energy replacement.
It was still a big win – maybe a half win – in that we got Council to realize people are watching very closely now. And the union men who showed up realized that we want jobs for them at an energy source that won’t be outdated and banned by the State soon. This fight is not a one night battle. We will just have to come out again in bigger numbers next time to support Zareh and pressure two other Council members to support him with their votes. And we know who they are and will remember who was on the right side of history and who wasn’t.
In the meantime, give Councilmember Sinanyan your love and tell me we appreciate what he’s doing: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to watch the meeting in full, it’s posted here.
Here are clips of each council members’ deliberation on Grayson: