Commission recommends testing the renewable-energy market for Grayson project


After reviewing the final environmental impact report on the proposed Grayson Power Plant renovation project, the Glendale Water & Power Commission voted Monday to recommend that City Council take no action on the report and instead test the renewable-energy market for additional alternatives.

Commissioners are asking that instead of certifying the final impact report, which is expected to be discussed during a council meeting on April 10, city officials should issue a Request For Information, or RFI, that would collect a draft of renewable alternatives for Grayson from various firms within 90 days.

If a proposal returns with a drastically different alternative from those already listed in the utility’s final environmental impact report, the report would be recirculated.

The impetus for seeking additional alternatives is to know whether the facility’s carbon footprint could “continue to be lowered,” Commissioner Sarojini Lall said.

“I want to see our city on the forefront of innovation. I feel like the tail was kind of wagging the dog here, and it would not surprise me that, at the end of this process, we end up with a combination gas-fired plant with some significant battery storage. But I just think we need to have another look [at alternatives],” she said.

According to Steve Zurn, general manager of Glendale Water & Power, utility officials will send the RFI to a list of consulting firms, which will then submit alternatives from which the City Council can select. Firms will have 90 days to return with responses that incorporate the Grayson project’s goals.

The utility is pursuing a $500-million renovation of the nearly 80-year-old, gas-powered plant, which Zurn said at the recent meeting and many times prior is currently insufficient and unreliable with seven of its eight electrical-generation units in need of replacement.

Zurn reiterated to the commission that further delay of the project is “not an option” because an upcoming air-quality risk assessment of Grayson by the South Coast Air Quality Management District could result in a plant shutdown if the Glendale utility does not begin to mitigate its pollution by 2020.

“I’m not willing to gamble on unproven technology or some combination of a bunch of factors coming together in order to make sure that we provide power,” Zurn said. “Reliability means having sufficient resources in place — renewable or nonrenewable — to get us the type of power we need when we need it under any circumstance.”

Michael Weber, principal scientist with consultant Stantec, said during his presentation on the Grayson project’s final environmental impact report that the “other alternatives” considered in the study — such as power plant sites, rooftop solar distribution, generation technology, fuel and power-plant cooling alternatives — were found to be either not feasible, would result in a higher magnitude of environmental impacts or did not meet the project’s objectives.

City Council voted in February to examine the final environmental impact report before making any decisions on the project. The council may take no action on the project or pursue the commission’s recommendation.

Twitter: @JeffLanda