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Santee City Council Opposes Quail Brush Power Plant

A packed house supports the unanimous vote on a resolution "opposing the siting of the Quail Brush Power Plant in a visually prominent location proximate to Santee's western gateway."

The chambers were filled to capacity at the where an audience of about 150 applauded the council's unanimous vote to oppose the placement of a power plant within sight of the city's western gateway.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is currently in the early phases of the license approval process for the Quail Brush Power Plant, described as a 100-megawatt peaker plant, needed to fill in gaps in available power as SDG&E phases more renewable energy into the grid. Plans show that eleven 100-foot "smoke stacks" would be visible in the hills north of Santee, a location chosen for it's close proximity to existing power and gas lines.

The resolution, voted 5-0 by the council, shows the to the proposed project based on the city's General Plan Objectives, policies that seek to "preserve and protect the SR-52 gateway and it's panoramic views, to preserve and protect the natural amenities within , and to ensure that land use incompatibilities" are fully disclosed, analyzed and mitigated.

The city will now send the resolution to the CEC and the city of San Diego, where the project is technically sited. Because the site isn't actually within the city of Santee, it makes the council's fight in opposition all the more difficult.

Councilmember was previously instructed by the council to look into the power plant plans and he came back with his report on Wednesday.

"We need to make sure the plant is totally mitigated so it doesn't affect the residents of our community or it doesn't get built," Dale said.

41 slips were submitted by the public in opposition to the the plant, with more than 20 coming before council ecstatic that they were backing the opposition, upset that the resolution wasn't worded stronger, and overall distraught that the plant could be built nearby Mission Trails, and homes.

"I lie awake at night worrying about the plant, it feels so good to hear that you're with us," said one of the speakers.

Dale said that what will be most affective in convincing the CEC not to approve the siting of the project is the public letting them know they are against it by voicing their opinion at meetings and writing to the CEC.

Two representatives of Quail Brush Genco seemed to be the only people in the room rooting for the project.

"It's important for you all to know that we are here to listen, here to learn, to listen and to respond. We want to let you know, we have asked our engineers to go back, to look hard to see if there is anything we can do. We are early in the process, and we believe in the CEC process," said project manager Lori E.L. Ziebart, in speaking to the council.

"We have a slew of experts who will leave no stone unturned. We welcome a transparent, open and continuing dialogue. We are here to try to work with you and the community to do the right thing."

Each councilmember took turns to speak out against the project, each echoing similar concerns.

"This is the first time I can recall in 27 years living in Santee that no one can be found that's in favor of a project," said Councilmember John Ryan.

"This plant may qualify as a public nuisance under the law," said Councilmember .

"You have to understand this is a declaration of war," said , who had that "the City of Santee will be rolled over on this one, with no hope of stopping a power plant that most other people want."

His opposition the city getting involved in the fight was that the city could not afford a legal battle on this issue.

The next key meeting in the plant approval process takes place April 26 before the San Diego Planning Commission, where a decision might be made whether to change the zoning of the site from open land to industrial use.

Stop the Santee Power Plant, the local grassroots opposition to project, has planned a for March 31.

Read more Quail Brush Power Plant stories

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