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IID to meet power needs of beef plant

March 27, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District directors took a step Monday to assure the under-construction beef-processing plant in Brawley will have power when it opens in October.

By a unanimous vote, the board directed district staffers to start obtaining equipment and materials to build a substation to serve the beef plant and any other new developments in the eastern part of Brawley.

B.P. Ventures officials said the action was critical because if the district does not start work on the project soon, the power setup to run the beef plant will not be ready in time.

The decision to obtain the equipment comes as the district is involved in negotiations with B.P. Ventures over providing power to the plant.

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IID staffers told the board Monday if they have to wait to finish the negotiations before obtaining the equipment they might not be able to set up a power system in time for the plant's planned opening.

The staffers said they are close to reaching an agreement with B.P. Ventures. Still, they said it might take another 45 days to finalize the pact and that is too long to wait.

IID Director Bruce Kuhn said he does not want the district to be the cause of the plant not starting operations in October.

He said the beef plant will employ 600 people and as such will be an important employer in the Imperial Valley, one of the most economically depressed areas in the state.

"There are things that must be done in a matter of time," Kuhn said.

While the issue of the beef plant was on the information-item portion of the agenda, the board took action on the matter Monday under a policy allowing the board to act on information items.

Director Stella Mendoza called for the vote.

B.P. Ventures officials at the meeting said they appreciated the board's action.

"We have to be plugged in," said Greg Beck, president and chief operations officer for B.P. Ventures.

Beef plant officials have said they cannot delay the Oct. 1 planned opening because they have contracts to have cattle shipped to the plant that day.

The beef plant is being built on 100 acres recently annexed into Brawley along Shank Road.

IID and county officials have said the plant will be an important development in the Imperial Valley because of the jobs it will create and the boost it will provide to local agriculture.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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