Environmental Groups Oppose Request to Freeze Puente Power Plant Proceedings

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Source: Environmental Defense Center

After a three-year battle by residents and advocates to defeat fossil fuel giant NRG Energy’s proposed power plant in the City of Oxnard, NRG filed a motion to suspend proceedings by the California Energy Commission (“CEC”). The motion comes on the heels of a statement issued by CEC Commissioners Janea Scott and Karen Douglas, indicating their intention to deny the Puente Power Project due to its significant environmental impacts and inconsistencies with local and state laws and regulations. While appearing to be a step in the right direction, NRG’s motion asks the CEC to freeze the proceedings in an effort to unnecessarily delay the process and avoid a final decision by the CEC. If allowed, a delay could also undermine the procurement of clean energy sources to meet the community’s energy needs. 

“NRG’s request for a suspension of its application for the Puente Power Plant confirms that the project should be denied,” noted Alicia Roessler, Staff Attorney for the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”), which represents the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, Environmental Coalition of Ventura County, and EDC in the proceedings before the CEC. “We urge the California Energy Commission to follow through with its proposal to deny the Project in order to ensure protection for the Oxnard community and coastal environment. This is one of the worst places for a new power plant. The project site contains valuable coastal wetlands and important habitat for Peregrine falcons and other threatened wildlife, and is located within a high-risk zone for tsunamis and sea level rise.”

EDC and its clients were the first public Intervenors in the CEC proceeding and provided expert testimony and volumes of evidence proving that the Puente Power Plant would cause irreversible harm to this coastal community and conflict with local and state law – the very issues that Scott and Douglas site in their statement. The City of Oxnard, which opposes the Project, is already burdened with three coastal power plants that disproportionately impact its low-income community.

“California does not need another fossil fuel power plant on the coast,” stated Roessler. “A recent study by the California Independent System Operator determined that clean energy alternatives are feasible, and we do not need to perpetuate our reliance on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.” Accordingly, EDC, the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, and the Environmental Coalition of Ventura County joined other environmental groups in opposing NRG’s requested suspension and urged the CEC to continue with its process for rendering a final decision on the application.

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