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Supervisors finally decide against pipeline

February 16, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors finally denounced a natural gas pipeline and toughened its opposition to electrical transmission lines that will support power plants being built in Mexicali.

The supervisors acted more than four months after Supervisor Joe Maruca made the proposal to the board.

According to a report from the county's Air Pollution Control District, pollution from the plants will have a negative impact on the health of residents of the Imperial and Mexicali valleys.

The board's action follows a fruitless meeting in November with government officials, officials from plant developers Sempra and InterGen, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine.

The supervisors agreed there now are no other options.

Two supervisors running for re-election, Wally Leimgruber and Tony Tirado, faced criticism from opponents for inaction on the issue at a candidates' forum Monday night.

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In September, Maruca requested a resolution against the power plants and any new permits for future plants.

The rest of the board did not support Maruca's proposal, hoping the meeting with Hunter would put pressure on InterGen to use air-pollution controls on its Mexicali plant that meet California air-quality standards.

The owners of the power plants, Sempra Energy Resources of San Diego, Boston-based InterGen Aztec Energy, plan to import electrical power to California.

The North Baja Pipeline Project is planned to provide natural gas fuel for the plants. Sempra's transmission lines are intended to carry electricity from the power plants to San Diego. Both are planned to be located partially in Imperial County.

Representatives of Sempra and the pipeline, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric of Portland, Ore., objected to the board's action Tuesday, saying they are not the bad guys.

Sempra's power plant meets California air-pollution control standards, but if the plant were built in California, Sempra also would be required to offset the plant's emissions by providing money to help reduce air pollution in the area.

Only two of the four turbines on the InterGen plant will have California standard air-pollution controls installed.

"It is the only leverage we have left," Supervisor Hank Kuiper said.

The board's opposition to the transmission lines was changed from its earlier objection, which just opposed InterGen, to include all power plants along the U.S.-Mexico border, until all plants use California air pollution controls.

The two plants, Sempra's 600-megawatt Termoelectrica de Mexicali and InterGen's 765-megawatt La Rosita Power Project, are already under construction.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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