Despite activist opposition, an iconic Southern Californian settlement will proceed with a proposed natural gas power facility.
The City of Glendale approved spending $260 million on five new generators at the Grayson Power Plant, 11 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
State-run operator Glendale Water and Power confirmed that the proposed 93-megawatt generators would run at 14% capacity—much lower than existing gas engines–and provide a vital emergency power source during wildfires and heatwaves.
“Our portfolio keeps gas generators on only when we need them in the event of a problem,” general manager Mark Young said according to CNBC News. “We’re trying to balance the needs of the environment and needs of the residents for reliable favorable energy.”
The city, home to Walt Disney Imagineering, is arguably the last in the Golden State to keep building fossil-fueled power plants. The decision seemingly contradicts a state Legislature’s target to entirely rely on clean energy by 2045.
This extended reliance on burning ancient plant and animal remains has outraged environmental activists, who want the city to spend more taxpayer money on clean energy solutions.
They claim the power plant is a waste of money and will only release more carbon emissions into the air, affecting nearby schools, childcare centers, and other community amenities.
“The electricity sector accounts for 16% of statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board statewide GHG inventory,” the Legislative Analyst’s Office website said.
The city council recently responded to activist concerns by postponing delivery of generators until at least the end of 2022.
Glendale Water and Power expressed disappointment with the political stunt.
“My job is to make sure that everyone has enough electricity when they need it, [and] it feels like I am the big bad wolf who loves thermal generation,” Young said according to the broadcaster. “I love reliable generation.”
The employer is separately adding 75 megawatts of battery energy capacity to the power plant. It is also establishing a virtual power plant that produces up to 28 megawatts from solar panels and batteries fitted to residential properties across the city.
“We are being extremely progressive in our vision and we are not getting credit for it,” Young said. “Natural gas is supposed to be a bridge to get to 100% clean energy.”