Puente Plant Not Needed

We appreciate Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson standing with the city against a new gas-fired Puente power plant. Her comment to the California Energy Commission states, “I believe CEC should focus their effort on developing storage solutions and assisting the state in moving away from natural gas facilities.” Ojai’s SimpliPhi seeks, in fact, to double its production of the energy storage batteries we need to balance rapidly growing solar generation.

California demand is declining. We have surplus natural gas and electricity. Moreover, a steep rise in the price of carbon will make renewable energy even more competitive. Puente is billed as a peaker plant, to run only when needed, but rumor has it that it is committed to burn a minimum amount of gas. Utilities pay solar generators to shut down when there is a surplus on the grid. Batteries, not gas, is the way to solve this.

Gov. Brown should walk his talk about renewable energy, respect the city’s arguments made in hearing after hearing, and deny NRG’s application for Puente. Is the governor’s silence connected to his sister, Kathleen Brown, serving on Sempra’s board? Why is Sempra pushing to reopen gas storage at Porter Ranch? Does Sempra anticipate that Edison’s contract with NRG will take the overflow it can’t store safely?

Our region cannot advance with clean energy because the dirty energy industry owns cheap infrastructure here where it is trying to get rid of surplus fracked gas. Obviously these already-rich companies run our state for their profit, not for our health or energy independence.

It gets worse: CEC approval of more unneeded plants commits ratepayers to high electric bills for decades to come. Where is the taxpayers association when we need it?

Ron Whitehurst, Ventura

Puente Plant Not Needed, by Ron Whitehurst, Ventura County Star, February 27, 2017.

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