Power Glendale with Renewable Energy
Questions about Money:
Won’t this expansion lower my utility bills?
No. In fact, they’ll likely go up. The LA Times recently reported that California utilities have a history of promoting new plants by promising lower utility bills only to have utility costs increase. There are a number of financial risks facing Grayson which would lead to increased utility bills, especially considering its $500 million price tag.
Will this plan affect property value?
Yes, it will lower property values. The Grayson expansion will generate three times the power the current plant produces and thus generate significantly more pollution. There will be more smog, microscopic soot, and increased levels of sulfur dioxide in the air. This will make Glendale and surrounding communities a less desirable place to live. Furthermore, due to the financial risks involved utility rates could increase dramatically.
Don’t we need that extra power?
No. GWP wants to build overcapacity to become a power exporter. This excess power means more pollution in Glendale so that the city can pocket the extra revenue. Immediately after the Grayson expansion, Glendale will have an excess of about 40% over the absolute peak demand. By 2035, once rooftop solar has ramped up and demand has fallen, the excess will about 75%! Find out more here.
Isn’t the plant old? Does it need to be updated?
Only some parts of Grayson are old. The most recent turbine unit in the plant was built in 2003. A recent GWP plant manager said that the older plants are good to run for another 10 years. We have a pending public records request to find out the actual cost of maintaining the plant. The cost of maintaining Grayson is likely less the proposed expansion that would cost at least $27 million/year for 30 years (including interest).
If the Grayson’s lifespan is reduced due to California renewable energy laws , how does this impact us financially?
Terribly, we’d still owe the money for the expansion. The $500 million GWP plans to spend on the new plant would increase the utility’s costs by about $29 million per year. The idea that they can find enough annual savings from efficiencies to offset this cost is just not plausible. GWP is also not telling us that California is on the verge of passing legislation to mandate 100% clean energy by 2045. Once this occurs, gas-fired plants like Grayson will begin winding down, and debt payments will likely be accelerated. This would increase annual finance costs by about 16%, and GWP will be forced to pass those costs to customers. They will say this is not a result of the repowering, but our rates will be going up all the same.
Questions about Health:
Would the proposed plant be bigger?
Yes, the plant would be substantially bigger. GWP plans to remove old units that are currently capable of producing about 185 MW of power and replace them with new units rated at 262 MW, an increase of over 40%.
How much would pollution increase?
The increase in pollution is alarming. See below (taken from GWP Environmental Impact Report). Remember these numbers represent the amount of increase of pollutants – 100% is double the current amount.
|Greenhouse Gases (GHG)||686%|
|Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) - Smog||542%|
|Sulfur Oxides (SOx)||288%|
|Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC)||100%|
|Carbon Monoxide (CO)||26%|
|Particulate Matter (PM10)||10%|
|Particulate Matter (PM2.5)||10%|
The emissions output of the expanded plant can’t be so bad that it’ll cause a health hazard to local residents, can it?
Yes it can. The area around the plant is already subject to low birth weights, for example, the expanded plant will only make it much worse.
How can GWP get away with increasing pollution?
Several ways. They have massaged the numbers to make the calculated increase in cancer rates just below the state limit. Also, they plan to purchase offsets to allow more pollution at the site than would otherwise be allowed. Offsets mean that they are buying the right to pollute from somewhere else.
If it’s a real hazard, why isn’t the city council concerned about this?
They should be. However, the Glendale City Council has been depending on Glendale Water & Power for information about the health and financial risks associated with the plant. Read the long list of half-truths that GWP has published about Grayson – this is what they have been feeding the council and utility commission. Only by digging into the documentation can they see that pollution is increasing dramatically.
Questions about Plant Safety:
Won’t this plant expansion prevent the kind of blackouts and brown-outs we experienced 15 years ago?
Yes and no. According to GWP, Glendale didn’t experience blackouts 15 years ago because of the existing power plant. Los Angeles experienced blackouts 15 years ago due to electricity supply manipulation by Enron to profit off of shortages. In fact, documents show that Glendale may have been working with Enron to manipulate the power supply.
There are other ways of preventing peak demand outages than building a dirty plant with a capacity 45% larger than the peak demand on the extreme hottest few days of the year. One way of doing this without pollution would be to invest in solar with battery backup across the city.
What would the impact of an earthquake or flood be compared to wind or solar power?
Potentially disastrous. Grayson sits on a liquefaction zone and will be taken offline at the best or destroyed at the worse in an major earthquake. GWP points out that Grayson was fine after the Sylmar earthquake but Sylmar was a 6.6 magnitude earthquake. Experts say we need to be prepared for an 8.2 magnitude on the San Andreas fault. An 8.2 quake would be 250 times stronger than Sylmar. It is highly likely that ground movement would be enough to sever gas pipes, leading at worst to gas leaks, explosions, and fires, and at best to shutting down the source of power Glendale needs in just such a situation. This type of risk is best mitigated with a distributed solution based on a combination of solar, battery storage and micro-grid infrastructure and not one built around a single point of failure.
In addition Grayson sits in the path of any flood event that requires Hansen or Sepulveda Dams to spill water, like the recent flood event in Houston. As climate change makes the weather patterns less stable we should expect to see larger rain events in Southern California.
Questions about Location:
Where is the plant?
It’s right at the North East corner of the intersection of Interstates 5 & 134 – here’s a map.
If I don’t live in Glendale, how can I help?
Speak up. You can still comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement until November 20th. You should contact your elected representatives to demand that they put pressure on the Glendale City Council to look into renewable alternatives. Join the Glendale Environmental Coalition and show up to Glendale City Council meetings when they are looking to vote on this to show your support.
If I don’t live in Glendale, so what?
The effects go far beyond just Glendale. The entire Los Angeles air basin is already failing federal limits. Building Grayson is just going to make the matter worse. Adding that much pollution to the air will impact residents far from the plant and people driving by on I-5 and I-134. Climate Change is happening and it’s an emergency. Glendale’s greenhouse gas emissions add to the problem.
What about Scholl Canyon Landfill?
Grayson is currently burning landfill gas (LFG) from Scholl Canyon Landfill. Part of the expansion will involve building a new 12MW LFG power plant at Scholl Canyon to burn the LFG. This is an especially dirty plant as LFG is not very pure and doesn’t burn efficiently. The Scholl Canyon plant and the Grayson expansion are being considered separately even though they depend on each other and dump pollution into the same area.
If not Grayson, then what?
Clean power. We are asking City of Glendale to hire outside consultants to review renewable alternatives to the Grayson Power plant. Companies like NREL or E3 know renewables and can come up with workable cleaner alternatives.
How to Act:
Where can I find out more?
Facts Vs Fiction – A response to GWP’s half-truth and innuendo
Financial Risk – How GWP is gambling with out financial future
Health Risks – How the plant will hurt us
Pollution – What Grayson will put into the air
Resources – News articles, Glendale City Council contact information
Who do I call?
What can I do?
Spread the word. You’ll find most people have never heard of this plan or the risks involved. Here’s a flyer.
Join the Glendale Environmental Coalition and get involved.
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