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Intergen power plant battered by pro on pollution emissions

December 09, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Bill Powers made a persuasive case that the only thing standing in the way of a reduction in nitrogen oxide spewed into the air sheds of the Imperial Valley and San Diego is the power plant being built in Mexicali by Boston-based power company Intergen.

Powers, of San Diego-based Powers Engineering, conducted a three-hour workshop at the San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus here Friday that dealt with issues surrounding the power plants being built in Mexicali and the San Diego/Tijuana area.

He said the under-construction 700-megawatt Intergen plant, called "La Rosita" in Mexicali, will pump almost 10 times more tons of nitrogen oxide into the air each year compared to a power plant being built nearby in Mexicali by San Diego-based Sempra Energy.

The numbers break down to 2,100 tons annually from the Intergen plant and 188 tons a year from the Sempra plant, according to his firm.

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While this information from Powers wasn't new — he and others have known for months how the plants were going to operate and the amount of pollution they would emit — the audience that Powers spoke to Friday could help put pressure on Intergen management to equip its plant with the best available pollution controls.

Among the group of 12 or so who listened to Powers' full presentation was the chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, along with a consultant for Intergen.

In the past few months, pressure from Imperial County officials and others has failed to sway Intergen to invest in the best possible pollution control equipment for two turbines at its under-construction plant that would be required if the plant were built in the U.S.

Powers said it would cost Intergen about $7 million to install the controls.

If the Boston company did invest in the devices, nitrogen oxide pollution in the binational area of San Diego/Tijuana and the Imperial Valley from power plants could be less in 2003 than it is now, he said.

Powers said the amount could actually become less as older, less efficient plants in the binational border area are phased out in favor of newer natural gas-burning plants or retrofitted with the latest pollution controls.

The Intergen consultant did not address any of Powers' claims or the veracity of his firm's findings following the workshop.

Filner's chief of staff, Tony Buckles, said, "Mr. Filner wanted to be here. He has a long history working on issues relating to energy and the environment."

Buckles said he would brief Filner on the contents of Powers' presentation so the congressman can become more informed on the issues impacting Imperial County.

The Imperial Valley will be added to the 51st congressional district because of redistricting. He will represent the Imperial Valley in 2003 if he wins re-election in November.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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