Commentary: Grayson Power Plant project is needed now 

I appreciate clean renewable energy, clear skies and concerns about threats to our planet’s environment. But there is a lot of misinformation being spread about Glendale’s Grayson repowering project that threatens to delay this vital plant.

I’ve read the project plan, draft environmental impact report, the opposition website, and I’ve talked with our city staff. I’ve found that those against the project use a lot of fear-mongering. They use cherry-picked data out of context, and have an impractical zero-tolerance attitude toward risk. It’s a complex issue, so I can only address a few of their arguments. Become informed yourself by reading about Grayson on the GWP website and Rumors page under the City Office of Communications.

The proposed repowering project is sized for the city to meet peak load and ensure Glendale can comply with regulatory obligations that require the city to maintain significant amounts of reserve power to quickly respond if a power source goes offline.

Weighing population expansion, reduction of demand by rooftop solar generation, and potential increased demand of electric vehicle recharging, GWP chose to plan for a 350MW capacity to cover demand and potential loss of sources.


Currently, Grayson has limited capacity to integrate intermittent renewable sources, like rooftop solar. The new plant will make that possible. Old Grayson units are subject to upcoming SCAQMD regulations, and equipment failure in old units caused 40 unplanned outages since May of 2015.

Realistically, zero use of fossils fuels will not be an economical option for the next several decades. Repowering Grayson means that we eliminate electricity from coal that we currently buy from other suppliers. The Grayson project is more energy efficient. We’ll be able to produce more electricity while using just over half the natural gas of the existing plant at a cost that is much cheaper.

What’s the truth about the new Grayson plant emitting 415,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses per year? Based on historic demand profiles, Glendale expects future greenhouse gas emissions from the project to be about 37% of 1990 levels for the GWP portfolio. The SCAQMD concurs that the new plant does not cause unacceptable air quality impacts on either a local or regional basis.

A repowered Grayson is an integral part of Glendale’s plan to move to a 100% clean energy future, and there is no practical way to skip forward without this project.


Glendale has almost twice the state average of renewable resources. Glendale uses 64% renewable and carbon-free, compared to 44% for the California average. Glendale funds solar and renewable energy development through rebates and other programs. As aggressive as that program has been, it provides less than 4% of the city’s need.

The existing generators at Grayson (except newer No. 9) will reach their end of serviceable life in about 2021. Without replacing Grayson’s capacity, Glendale won’t be able to import enough electricity to make up the peak demands. Nobody really wants rolling blackouts during a heat wave.

The main goals of the Grayson repower project are to meet peak load demand, meet regulatory reliability requirements, generate at least 234 megawatts of power, and be able to integrate more renewable energy. To reach those objectives, the project will provide 250 megawatts of generation at Grayson and get the balance of our needs from external sources. The plant won’t run at full capacity year-round.

I have no reason to doubt the assessments of our current situation or the Grayson repower plan. Engineers are good people trying to solve our problems, not evil cyborgs trying to find insidious ways to harm humans for profit or arrogance.

Today, Grayson is expensive, inefficient, unreliable and a relatively high polluter. Glendale needs local generation to allow maximum use of transmission lines to import renewable resources and to integrate local solar.

I urge our City Council to resist the distraction of the Stop Grayson movement. Put an end to their conjecture, innuendo and misinformation about the project. The Grayson project will be in construction for about three years. Let’s get started before the lights go out!

Kurt Sawitskas, a Glendale resident, is an occasional community activist, community volunteer and works in engineering.