If you had to pick an unlikely venue for a strong demonstration of grass-roots energy, you probably couldn’t find one more unlikely than the board room of the Orange County Water District – tucked away in Fountain Valley — at noon on a Friday.
But that was the scene a 100-plus crowd of people who live and work in Anaheim, and answered the Stop The Power Plant coalition’s call to come and speak against the proposed building of a 400 megawatt power plant on an OCWD-owned site in Anaheim. Mobilizing a crowd of that size on two-days notice to attend a mid-day meeting miles away in a different city is a real measure of the intensity of community opposition to building a power plant on Ball Road Basin.
The speakers included nearby residents; employees from Anaheim Auto Center who took time off from work to speak; operators and patrons of the Anaheim Equestrian Center; Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray; and Anaheim Chamber President Todd Ament, who is helping lead the Stop The Power Plant coalition of residents and businesses.
Impressive as that showing was, stopping the CPV proposal will entail continued pressure on the OCWD Board of Directors, who voted 6-2 in closed session on Friday to continue negotiating a leasing agreement for the land with the power plant developer, Competitive Power Ventures.
The next regular OCWD Board of Directors meeting is this Wednesday, November 20 at 5:30 p.m. (the Board will again discuss the power plant in closed session), and the Stop the Power Plant coalition is planning to show up in force.
At least five of the 10 OCWD Directors must vote to oppose leasing the Ball Road Basin to CPV for the lease agreement deal to fail. If the OCWD votes to press ahead and lease the land to CV anyway, it is equally important that the California Energy Commission – which has the final say over the power plant proposal — sees the community opposition to this site was started quickly and grew with each passing week. The CEC traditionally denies approval when there is strong community opposition. Attending OCWD Board meetings and speaking out ensures the CEC sees a public record of broad, intense community opposition.
Candidly, given the breadth and intensity of community opposition (which is only growing with the passage of time) it is difficult to see why the OCWD Board would vote to lease the basin to CPV for a power plant proposal that is highly unlikely to be approved by the CEC. The OCWD apparently sees this as an opportunity to generate revenue from the site for a short or long period of time, regardless of whether the power plant is ultimately approved – although we shall have to see the details of the lease agreement when it is brought to the OCWD Board of consideration (presumably at the December 9 board meeting).