CHULA VISTA, Calif. - After 10 months of discussions, the Port of San Diego has reached an agreement to begin the process of demolishing the South Bay Power Plant that is estimated to cost the company managing the plant about $65 million, according to port officials.
The agreement was signed Monday night between the port and Dynegy, the company that manages the plant, and is the first step in removing what many residents have described as an "eyesore" along the Chula Vista shoreline.
"We're very excited about it," said Ann Moore, port commissioner representing the city of Chula Vista. "What we've actually come to an agreement on is an action plan. They [Dynegy] still have to go to the coastal commission to get approval and they still have to go to Chula Vista to get a demolition permit."
The 150-acre plant has been inactive for about a year but the demolition of the plant has been held up as the parties involved worked out the details over removal.
Environmental groups Fox 5 spoke with said Dynegy had a contractual obligation to not only remove the actual plant but also to properly dispose of much of the surrounding structures, leaving the area in a more natural state.
The idea of what Dynegy is or is not responsible for has been murky and a major question has revolved around what to do with the jetties around the plant.
To expedite the removal of the most visible portion, the actual plant itself, the port decided to break up the removal agreement into two parts. The first part deals mainly with the removal of the physical plant while the second part focuses primarily on Dynegy's responsibilities regarding the rest of the cleanup.
"This agreement would allow us to concentrate on the demolition part first and open up the whole bay front and get rid of that eyesore that's been there for 50 years," Moore said. "It's extremely important what this would allow is for a very quick removal of the power plant instead of having all the issues of having both processes tied together."
In the agreement letter, the port asked the company to "restore the natural hydrology of the Bay" meaning they wanted Dynegy to remove the jetties.
But the company responded by saying they hired their own expert who found that the jetties don't really impact the bay and as a result Dynegy felt that they "fulfilled the request" meaning when they approach the Coastal Commission it's anticipated that they will ask to be exempt from removing the jetties.
Despite the findings of Dynegy, environmental groups Fox 5 spoke with said it's still unknown what the environmental impact will be to either keep the jetties, remove them or just alter them.
Laura Hunter a spokeswoman with the Environmental Health Coalition, after analyzing the agreement letter, said Dynegy is attempting to shirk too many of their cleanup duties.
She said her group will be at the Coastal Commission meeting to argue the environmental concerns and to potentially force Dynegy into taking on greater responsibilities.
Regardless of the potential hurdles, Moore said she was happy to see the first steps being taken.
Moore said she has deep roots in Chula Vista. Not only does she currently live there, Moore said she was raised there, going on to receive an undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and her law degree from the University of San Diego.
"I feel wonderful, because when I joined the port, one of the main things I wanted to accomplish was to see that demolition of that power plant," Moore said. "It's been in Chula Vista for 51 years, it's an eyesore, it needs to come down and I feel like this is the first real step that we can see where that's actually going to happen."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times