Facing a crowd with signs reading "Stop the Santee Power Plant," the San Diego Planning Commission decided Thursday to grant Quail Brush Genco (Cogentrix) a requested 60-day continuance. In June, the Commission will decide whether to investigate if the plant can be located where it is planned, in the .
In order to build the plant, the city of San Diego Planning Commission must re-zone the power plant site from open space to industrial and Cogentrix must get approval from the California Energy Commission.
The Planning Commission voted 4-2 to grant what is now the second continuance to this decision.
Congressman Bob Filner spoke against the continuance and San Diego City Councilmember Marti Emerald spoke in favor of it. Others in favor of the continuance included the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and various local construction and electrician unions.
"I would ask for the continuance to continue the community outreach to discuss the need or desire to buid this power plant at ," said Emerald.
"I don't think it's a chance for outreach, it's a chance to propagandize," Filner said to the Commission.
"They [Cogentrix] are scared of all the people here... they don't want all this testimony to come up about saving Mission Trails Park," he said.
Other public speakers were continually reminded only to speak about the issue of the continuance and not the merits of the placement of the power plant, the topic which most speakers had come to address.
, Project Manager for the Quail Brush project, told the Commission the continuance was necessary for a number of reasons.
"We plan to take this time to work on addressing the issues raised by the public and to provide more information in response to those concerns," said Zeibart.
"We are working with staff to modify plant design to address issues raised about visibility," she said.
She added that the design changes aren't planned to affect already released emissions statistics.
When asked for specifics about what outreach Cogentrix is considering in these 60 days, Ziebart replied:
"This will give us more time to meet with local residents and community groups that are interested in learning more about our proposal to enhance energy reliability in the region."
Many public speakers claimed that Cogentrix was manipulating the permit approval process, that this request for continuance was a ruse.
"This delay is their attempt to prevent organized resistance to gain strength," said one speaker.
Other speakers worried that the delay would affect oppositions ability to intervene in the CEC process of approval.
"I don't think the Planning Commission really understands what's going on with this project," said .
The Planning Commission will meet again on June 28 to decide whether to initiate an amendment to the East Elliot Community Planning Area, where the plant would be built.