April 13, 2017
Our constant advocacy for clean, safe and sustainable energy over dangerous forms of power sometimes falls on deaf ears—it can be thankless work advocating for the future. However, this week we are celebrating a victory for the families who live and work near the Ellwood natural gas peaker plant in Goleta, the people we’ve been working to protect.
We applaud the decision by California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge Regina M. DeAngelis to reject Southern California Edison’s request for a 30-year refurbishment of the 54-megawatt, natural-gas-fired peaker plant. (Please click here to read the World Business Academy’s press release about the decision.)
In her decision, handed down on Friday April 7, Judge DeAngelis appears to see the issue the way the Academy sees it. Judge DeAngelis rejected SCE’s request in order to “give the Commission additional time to explore whether any approved need in the Santa Barbara/Goleta area can be met in a manner more consistent with the Commission’s goals of reduced reliance of fossil fuel.” Her Proposed Decision requires the approval of the CPUC Commissioners, which at the earliest could come at the CPUC’s upcoming business meeting on May 11. (We will keep you posted on that.)
We thank Judge DeAngelis for her wisdom and call on the CPUC Commissioners to formally adopt her ruling in order to protect the health of the Ellwood schoolchildren and residents, and to work toward a clean energy future for Santa Barbara County.
This is an excellent step in the necessary transition away from gas-fired, fossil fuel energy resources and toward clean, locally generated power for Goleta and Santa Barbara. This decision backs up the veracity of the Academy’s position that ALL of the region’s power needs can be met with renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, demand response, and storage.
Judge DeAngelis’ Proposed Decision further affirms the extreme vulnerability of Southern California Edison’s high-voltage transmission lines. Refurbishing a 40-year old peaker plant in a densely populated area is not the best way to resolve the energy issues affecting the Goleta and Santa Barbara areas.
We advocated in court filings and at public meetings our belief that refurbishing this plant would be a disaster if transmission lines failed because it would be forced into 24-hour service, polluting the air in the neighborhood, simply because SCE ignored the looming threat of transmission line failure. We directly challenged the proposed refurbishment on both economic and environmental terms, and pointed to the likelihood that the Ellwood Plant would operate far in excess of its allowed capacity during an outage scenario. This plant houses two gas-fired jet-engine turbines that give off excessive carbon pollution and cancer-causing fine particulates. It’s located 1,000 feet from Ellwood Elementary school as well as homes that have been built since the plant’s construction in 1974.
Refurbishing this aging plant would stick Goleta residents with this outdated facility for three more decades. This is not acceptable.
This ruling puts the brakes on the refurbishment effort, for now. The World Business Academy will continue the conversation about how to replace the power from this dirty plant with clean, renewable energy. We will continue to advocate for Goleta’s families and work to bring more solar panels to homes, business rooftops, public buildings and parking structures. There is a better way. We hope the CPUC will join us in seeking it.