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Magnolia Power Project surges forward

Joshua Pelzer

Six cities secured their energy independence this week by breaking

ground on the Magnolia Power Project.

City and utility officials from Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena,

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Anaheim, Cerritos and Colton were at Burbank Water and Power’s

generation complex Tuesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the

$234-million, 310-megawatt natural gas power plant.

The plant will produce gas emissions that are 50 times less

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harmful than ones from the two plants it replaces, and will burn

one-third less fuel.

The cities have used their own power facilities to avoid the

unstable prices and shortages of the state’s energy market since

deregulation three years ago, officials said.

“We took a good look at what it took to be competitive, and what

it meant is you had to build projects that were competitive,” BWP

General Manager Ron Davis told the crowd.

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Power will be generated at 4 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. The

average household consumes 400 kilowatt hours per month, Glendale

officials said.

Glendale would pay up to 8 cents for the same production at its

Grayson Power Plant if natural gas prices remain steady.

Burbank will receive 75 megawatts per year -- 31% of the plant’s

output -- while Glendale will receive 40 megawatts, or 17%.

The cities will not sell power produced at the new plant to

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outside agencies.

“This [plant] is like a car from the 1970s compared to a car from

the 2000s,” said Ignacio Troncoso, public services director for

Glendale Water and Power. “We’re buying modern technology as good as

anything out there, and it’s right next door, so you don’t have to

work at shipping it in from a long distance.”

The cities are members of the Southern California Public Power

Authority, which owns the plant and was its principal source of

funds. Start-up and operational costs, as well as the $234 million in

construction expenses, are financed through nearly $320 million in

bond revenues issued by the authority.

“What a joint-powers agency does is, it allows these utilities to

participate in a project and enables the power authority go out and

borrow the money based on long-term contracts the utilities have,”

project spokesman Ed Freudenburg said. “It’s a way of not putting out

any cost up front for the utilities, by allowing those people that

will benefit pay for the power as they go.”

Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2005.


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