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Why YOU Must Oppose The Quail Brush Power Plant

This post is a list of reasons why people from all different walks of life should oppose the Quail Brush Power Plant.

On August 29, 2011 the Application for Certification for the Quail Brush Power Plant on the border of Santee was filed. According to The California Energy Commission Quail Brush is a 100-megawatt generating facility that will consist of, "eleven natural gas-fired reciprocating Wartsila engine generators." Wartsila is the company that makes the engines, they are from Finland. The project is to be built near the and Highway 52 by the Mast Blvd. entrance and .

Pollution and Air Quality in Santee

The expansion of the 52 may or may not have reduced traffic congestion in Santee, but what it has done is caused a giant cluster of idling cars at the intersection of the 52 and 125 freeways. Idling cars in the heart of Santee has definitely increased the level of auto emission pollution and smog in our city.

The burning of Natural Gas releases nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, Methane and other toxins, according to both the EPA and NaturalGas.org, a pro natural gas website.

Let's start with nitrogen oxides (NO). NO is a main compent in the formation of acid rain and more smog, it contributes to global climate change and in can inhibit plant growth. NO's affect on humans exposed to includes, but is not limited to, airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma, and that is from short-term exposure (30 minutes to 24 hours).

Carbon Dioxide (Co2), which has catapulted into the mainstream as awareness of the global climate crisis has expanded, is probably the most well known of the greenhouse gases, so I won't go to into that. In 2008, Reuters, published an article subtitled, "Climate-warming carbon dioxide spewed by coal-fired power plants and fossil-fueled vehicles has been causing hundreds of premature U.S. deaths each year over the several decades, a new study reported." Although natural gas burning is cleaner then coal it is not better. It release the same toxins just in lower concentrations, as you can see here. The Reuters article reports that of all the premature deaths due to air pollution in the United States (estimated between 50,000 to 100,000), "about 30 percent of those occurred in California, which has 12 percent of the (U.S.) population."

Methane (Ch4) is a little less know as a greenhouse gas compared to Co2, but it is twenty times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the EPA. I will cover more about global climate change and its effects on the planet later in the article.

Eleven 100 foot tall smoke stacks spewing toxics into Santee's air will not be good for our children. The power plant is right across the street from and is upwind from . But the poor air will affect all that live in and visit Santee.

Mission Trails Regional Park is right across the highway from the purposed power plant. It is frequented by , bikers, dog lover, rock climbers, school groups, senior citizens, people trying to lose weight, nature lovers, , mushroom hunters and horse riders. None of these people want to or will be able to enjoy one of their pastimes next to a monstrous gas burning power plant.

, of Preserve Wild Santee, commented that, "The site proposed functions as a refuge for people from urban disturbance and is within the midst of an ." 

Fires Along The Freeway

Fires along the freeways in San Diego are so common we hardly make a big deal about them. But with a natural gas pipeline and gas burning power plant not too far from the freeway they can be expected to become a lot worse for Santee.

The 2003 Cedar Fires came right down into Oak Canyon under the 52. Brush fire on 52, September 13, 2005. Fire September 19, 2010 by Santo Road. July 20, 2011, fire on the 52 Freeway by Mast Blvd (right where the Quail Brush Power Plant will be). That's just a short list to get you thinking. We all know how easily one spark from a car or someone throwing a cigarette butt out their window can cause a fire. Do you really want a gas powered plant few hundred yards away?

Eye Sore

When I drive East on the 52 back to Santee, I get to that second bridge and you come around the corner and slowly our city come into view more and more (it's really nice at night when the lights of our city come more and more into view), that's how I know I am almost home. I know the last thing we want to see every time we come home is 11 one-hundred foot tall smoke stacks, doing what they were designed for; releasing pollutants into our air. It's ugly.

Property Value Decrease

For most people the only asset they have left in the current economy is there home. The construction of the eye sore, climate change causing, air quality reducing, power plant will undeniably lower property values in Santee. A study (PDF) from the University of California at Berkeley shows that home values within two miles of a power plant can be decreased between 4% and 7%. If a house worth is worth $400,000 it could lose $28,000 in value. That's year of your child's college tuition just gone, disappeared.

Quail Brush Supports Renewable Energy

They are trying to promote the Quail Brush Power Plant as a renewable energy facility; it is not. They are also saying that it is back up for the times when the renewable energy from the destructive Sunrise Power Link is not enough. But the Sun Rise Power Link will more than likely not bring renewable energy.

The first problem with the Sunrise Power Link is that renewable energy requirement is voluntary! SDG&E gets to decide if they want to do that or if they want to get cheap dirty energy from Mexico which has even less environmental regulations then we do. By getting energy from Mexico they are cunningly evading U.S. clean air laws that environmental activists have fought for.

Second, the Sunrise Power Link is destroying habitat for the Golden Eagle, Peninsular Bighorn Sheep and the Quino Checkerspot butterfly, according to The Center For Biological Diversity.

Lastly, in order for renewable energy to be sustainable it needs to be produced locally. Destroying habitat to put in five square miles of solar panels in the middle of the desert is not sustainable. Putting five square miles worth of solar panels on the roofs of buildings in the cities where energy is needed is.

This is Southern California it is sunny almost every day we should have solar panels. If they want to build a power plant it Santee it needs to start with solar panels on the roofs of buildings like City Hall, both high schools, the elementary schools, and the large shopping centers. Because climate change is a global problem that effects every species on this planet we need to create a new way of doing things. In Germany, 51% of all renewable energy is owned by citizens and farmers, not big utility companies. They did this by making having renewable energy a good idea. This is not what SDG&E wants to do.

Recently, SDG&E tried to increase the rate at which individual solar providers pay. The North County Times reported, "The effect of the charge on traditional customers would be minimal, but the new charge would add $22 a month to a typical residential solar customer's bills, and add thousands of dollars to the bills of cities, water agencies, and schools that have installed solar generators in recent years to save money." This is not how a company that promotes renewable energy acts and they cannot be trusted.

Gas Pipelines, Safe?

SDG&E does not have the consumers best interest in mind. When they were found responsible for the Witch Creek Fires, the second largest fires in California history, it was due negligence. The fires caused $2 billion in damage and the insurance will only pay for $1 billion. To solve this problem of getting an extra billion dollars SDG&E purposed to push the bill onto consumers! That is ridiculous. We have no choice but to get power from them and they are abusing us. They would rather rake in the profits instead of use fire safety practices and now they want us to front the bill.

On September 9th 2010, a natural gas pipeline, owned by Pacific Gas & Electric in San Bruno California exploded killing eight people, including a 13 year old. After investigating the accident they found out that the pipeline exploded due to negligence (the same thing that caused the Witch Creek Fires). Earlier this year an independent audit from the State of California issued a report stating that PG&E had illegally diverted over $100 million from a fund used for safety operations, and instead used it for executive compensation and bonuses.

Although the gas pipe line explosion and the Witch Creek Fire were caused by two different companies, the motives where the same- greed.

Climate Change

Regardless of what political pundits and unintelligent politicians try to tell you, global climate change is happening. If you click here you can watch 131 years of the Earth's climate in 26 seconds, it is an eye opener. The way that science works is that experiments are created to be testable and repeatable. Repeated tests have shown climate change is real the only "scientists"  who are saying it is not real are paid lobbyist using the same tactics the tobacco industry used to convince it was good for you.

The way that we consume and the way that we produce is having drastic effects on the global systems in our biosphere. We need to change the way we do these things drastically so that they are more . Even the Insurance Industry has come out and said that climate change is real and human activity is playing a role. Cynthia McHale, the insurance program director at Ceres recently stated that, "If we continue on this path, extreme weather is certain to cause more homes and businesses to be uninsurable in the private insurance market, leaving the costs to taxpayers or individuals.”

Building a new gas burning power plant will contribute to climate change. And for what? We as a community need to come out against this power plant. We need to branch this grassroots effort to those fighting against the expansion of the power plant in Carlsbad and to the organizers fighting the Pio Pico Energy Center in Otay Mesa. If you look at the "Community Benefits" tab you see... nothing.

Because The Quail Brush Power Plant is a climate change issue this should award us the support of such groups as The Sierra Club, 350.org, local renewable energy companies, Surfrider Foundation, The Coast Keepers, San Diego River Park Foundation, I Love a Clean San Diego. Due to its proximity to Mission Trails Mountain Bikers, Hikers, Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation, naturalist, Birders, and The Native Plant Society. And because of it's health implications the power plant should be opposed by local HOAs, the PTA (due to the proximity of the power plant to two local schools), The Santee School District, Grossmont Union High School District, Santee City Council, Santee Chamber of Commerce (no one will want to shop in a city with dirty air), local sports organizations should oppose it as well as every resident in Santee!

The power plant is unneeded. The world wants to switch away from fossil fuels and move into a renewable energy future. As SDG&E customers we should demand real renewable energy.

What You Can Do:

Sign the petition

Get involved

Get on Facebook

Go to the Tuesday night meetings

Spread the word

Consume Less Energy!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom Collins March 08, 2012 at 07:25 AM
What is happening with the methane produced from the landfill currently? What is the cost for this proposed project? What would be the cost to install "5 square miles of solar panels" in Santee? Would that really be a pragmatic approach to the issue?
Bill Cooper March 08, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Van, it was good seeing you at the meeting Tuesday night and happy you are supporting the cause. I better get started on making signs for the Monday morning 6AM show of force at Mast and SR-52. That is much more productive way of spending my time for the cause instead of complaining about people on the Patch.
Molly E March 09, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Egads, our granddaughter goes to Sycamore canyon elementary, but even if that weren't the case, the location of this plant is really objectionable for all the reasons cited! Wish our gov't would have programs like Germany does supporting alternative energy!
Sandy March 09, 2012 at 04:46 AM
To Joe S - Coalition building is an integral part of any citizen movement. I've supported PWS and am very involved in SSPP and am grateful for PWS support and outreach. Strength in numbers.
Joe Spencer March 09, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Sandy K... I agree strength in numbers....what I questioned was motivation to be working on promoting his own facebook page here...that just appears very self serving.
Retha Knight March 09, 2012 at 06:03 AM
STOP THE SANTEE POWER PLANT RALLY is planned from 6:00 am to 9:00 am on Monday, March 12th. to catch the morning commute at West Hills and Mast Blvd. Bring a sign & Rally public awareness & support. Together we'll send the message loud and clear: NO POWER PLANT HERE! www.stopthesanteepowerplant.org
Stephen Goldfarb March 09, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Alan: Nice article, well researched, reasoned and passionate. Placement of the Quail Brush project is also contrary to the City of San Diego's Mission Trails Design District regulation. This regulation is is intended to protect views in the area near Mission Trails Regional Park. Quail Brush also does great and untold harm to the East Elliott owners.
Paul m March 11, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Mountain bikers are always left out. We use Mission Trails and Sycamore Canyon. I never thought much about giant power line towers until I saw them on a ride. It was like aliens. If that means I need solar and batteries and LED lights, I can do that. If this plant messes with my killer trails near or in Spring Canyon and Little Sycamore I already hate it. I do have to pause and ask: Where do they build these if not here? Some less organized community? Do we need more power? Can't they build it in so e forsaken part of the CPU Ty now that we have this new power link? Former mayor of Santee candidate. Paul.
Paul m March 11, 2012 at 08:56 PM
My device did a fair amount of autocorrect there. So should be some CPU should be county.
Van Collinsworth March 11, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Paul - PreserveWildSantee posted a link on SDMBA. This plant is not needed anywhere. Its time to transition to decentralized solar for "peak" times. During afternoon heat when the air conditioners are running is also peak time for sunshine.
Paul m March 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Thanks for the heads up. I'll be passing this info along via all channels I can. Trailhead chats and email mostly. Are there higher res maps out there? Van I would like to help out in working with Diane Jacobs to get Goodin Ranch to Mission Trails linked up and maybe volunteer to get some of the Marine base granted to Santee or The County. Is there anything we can do to connect the two issues? Maybe get the Marines to oppose this plant? They certainly oppose trail use! How about Sycamore Landfill? Maybe get the three to duke it out and we stand by and hike and ride and birdwatch? :) I'll try to find contact info for you.
eugene wilkie March 12, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I am a solar developer for large solar projects. I have noticed all the comments on "lets build more solar" this is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a huge amount of land and has its own environmental impact. The problem we have with solar is that it is intermediate power that is subject to sun shine. What do you do when the sun does not shine. I am not in support of building new power plants using fossil fuel but we have to back up solar with something to provide 24 hour power. The only other choices are battery systems which are very expensive and the utilities would absolutely pass that higher cost on to us. It would take hundreds of acres of solar to offset this same plant. Do you want 100's of acres by Santee covered with solar panels? If you do show me where it could go and I will put it in. I am positive no one will support this. I also develop large wind projects but there is not enough wind there. All energy has an environmental impact its a question of what is the least impact and highest output. I have to say as a man who has dedicated the last 23 years to renewable energy I was astounded to find myself on the other side of environmentalism trying to put in solar and wind farms. The whole not in my backyard is a tough subject. I have heard all the arguments of using parking lots but the cost of building structures plus the cost of the solar does not pencil.
Jim March 12, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Awesome! Too bad that went over most people's heads. =)
Patty Kay Mooney March 14, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Great article. I have been sharing the link with my friends. One further point: Mission Trails Park is our Yosemite, a national treasure. This is a place we have to save for future generations because it's where we come to simply "be" - where our spirits can dance. My husband and I pledge to do everything we can possibly do to put a stop to this Power Plant.
Joe Spencer March 14, 2012 at 04:58 AM
In regards to the City Planning Commission Meeting Thursday Morning…note something VERY important: Time allotted to each speaker is determined by the Chair; however, comments are limited to no more than three (3) minutes total per subject regardless of the number of those wishing to speak. So…no matter how many show up….we get three minutes TOTAL. I would HIGHLY suggest someone who speaks well in front of a crowd….be the sole speaker….AND that they prepare a typed TIMED three minute speech to read. This does not mean only one person shows up….EVERYONE should show up for support.
Van Collinsworth March 14, 2012 at 05:20 AM
The 3-minute limit applies only to Item 1 general announcements that are not on the agenda. Everyone attending should submit a speakers slip in opposition to Item 12. You can decline to speak, but please do speak in opposition. I do not expect the Chair to prevent anyone from speaking as long as the speaker slip is timely submitted.
Joe Spencer March 14, 2012 at 05:29 AM
I encourage EVERYONE who is going to get up and speak to: A) DRESS TO IMPRESS....dont show up to address these people looking like you just pulled your clothes out of your backside. Do you need a 3 piece suit? NO. But show a little pride. B) PREPARE your speech. Don't try and get up there and wing it...stuttering and stammering. Show that you took time and effort to PLAN what you were going to say C) DONT INTERRUPT!! Once you have spoken....for lack of better words...SHUT UP...and listen if you are responded to. Be respectful if you want your voice to be heard. This stuff may sound like common sense...but from what I have witnessed it needs to be said.
Brian Hanifin March 15, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I was originally under the impression that this power plant would convert the methane generated by the landfill into power. Is this not the case? If not then why does this article from the fall show a photo of a methane vent at the landfill, and why does the author write that it "would support SDG&E's efforts to increase its reliance on wind, solar and other renewable energy resources"? Converting that methane -- which just releases into the air now -- into energy would be a good thing, right? http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2011/nov/21/plans-advance-for-power-plant-near-santee/
Brian Hanifin March 15, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Here is some information from the California Energy Commission about Landfill Gas Power Plants. http://www.energy.ca.gov/biomass/landfill_gas.html
Van Collinsworth March 15, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Sycamore Landfill is already producing electricity with methane. "Methane to Energy: When waste decomposes, it becomes half CO2 and half methane. This methane gas has about 1⁄2 the strength of heating gas. The landfill has a network of wells that pull out the gas, then turbines convert it to an energy source, generating as much electricity as used by 5,000 homes." http://ieasdc.org/app/download/1985588304/Business+News+Week+of+September+27+2010.pdf
Patty Kay Mooney March 16, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Thank you Van, for clarifying that. It's exactly what we learned (we videotaped the landfill operations at both Otay and Sycamore. The Otay facility is powering 5,000 homes with their existing set-up and they don't need some gargantuan facility to do it.) I think that the Quail Brush proponents are sending an incorrect message that Sycamore landfill needs the power plant to deliver their gas, when that is not the case.
Tim March 16, 2012 at 04:46 AM
What exactly is the problem with this plant? I went on the states website, and it sates that it is a small natural gas steam turbine plant. Steam being the pollutant.... Water??? Did I miss something?
Cali Linfor March 21, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Isn't there a meeting at Mission Trails this week? I need a non Tuesday night event to attend to gain information.
Patty Kay Mooney March 21, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Yes, Cali, it's at Mission Trails Visitors Center at 5:00 PM. Invite all your friends. Tim, what is the problem with the plant? Eleven 100-foot stacks next door to one of the nation's largest regional parks... It's designated an Open Space for good reason. South Bay is breathing a sigh of relief now that they got rid of their power-plant monstrosity which was polluting our bay. So now Sempra wants to adulterate Mission Trails (and San Diego River) with an unsightly power plant. We don't need it.
Motivated Santee Citizen March 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Most important topic in Santee at the moment.
Sandy April 13, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Hi Tim. You missed CO, VOCs, particulates, ammonia, and sulfur. You can read for yourself the nature of the expected emissions in 1) Section 4.7 at http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/quailbrush/documents/applicant/afc/Volume%201/ and 2) Appendix F at http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/quailbrush/documents/applicant/afc/Volume%202/ They take awhile to download, but you can save them as pdfs on your desktop for easy referral. (Also of interest is the construction emissions and impact analysis in #2 above for a 16-month period.)
Looking for reasonable solutions May 15, 2012 at 07:08 PM
If some type of power generation is going to be put in (and mind, the politicians and special interest groups tend to get their way regardless no matter what the people want), maybe a suggestion/mandate should be to put in wind mill generators. Once completed, the environmental impact should be greatly reduced with a "regeneration/revegetation" program/project. As wind continually blows through the canyon areas, the wind mills will be generating most of the time and providing power taking away the need for a "power boost". The system should provide for the Santee area, but could also help with San Carlos area of San Diego and Scripps Ranch area as well. There in lies a reasonable compromise. And while some people do not like them, there is a certain beauty as the props turn.
Patty Kay Mooney May 15, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Jim Bell's "Electricity Supply and Price Security in San Diego County: Comparison of Strategies for the Production/ Procurement of Electricity and Elimination of Greenhouse Gas Emissions." This may answer a lot of your questions about wind and solar versus this power plant idea. http://www.jimbell.com/mayor/index.html
quadman July 09, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Re: the Quail Bush power plant. Our Country is going broke and is energy dependent on foreign countries that want to bleed us dry. And yet, we still have the NIMBY's running around trying to kill anything that can possibly help get us off the middle eastern oil tit. We have more natural gas in this country than can ever be used and it is the cleanest fossil fuel known to man at this time. These NIMBY's are the same bunch that would cry foul the loudest when impacted by high gas prices or brown outs or catrastophic outages. You can't have it both ways, we can't continue the status quo in this country any longer. Help to change for energy independence or be prepared to live in a broken country. Wake up smell the coffee and stop killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Patty Kay Mooney July 09, 2012 at 07:45 PM
The need for energy obviously rises as the population increases. So people who are willing to compromise their quality of life, health, welfare, and spiritual well-being and destroy wilderness areas like Mission Trails in exchange for air conditioning, should consider moving to already-industrialized areas where fracking, drilling and mining are OK with the population. There is great economic value in undeveloped, pristine wilderness areas, and those who don't see it would probably fare better elsewhere. Plus I'm not interested in paying $600 million (we ratepayers would bear that cost) for an eyesore that throws 250 TONS of particulates into the air every year. As far as natural gas being "clean" there are many of us who beg to differ on that, especially after viewing "Gasland." The planet is a living entity, so extracting fluids in such a violent manner leaves us all vulnerable to more massive earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Really, it's just logic. We've got to stop literally screwing ourselves and future generations, stop feeding our oil addiction and focus on alternative energies. The old ways just aren't working anymore.

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