Transmission towers being removed in Chula Vista

CHULA VISTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA - City officials and residents in support of the decommissioning of the waterfront Chula Vista power plant — long considered a local eyesore — received an early holiday gift when the removal of transmission towers began last month.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) began removing the 23 lattice steel transmission towers that support the South Bay Power Plant using an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter to do the heavy lifting.

One by one, the structures that stand about 12 stories high and run along a 3-mile stretch on the bayfront were removed.

“It looks like we are ahead of schedule,” said SDG&E spokesman Raul Gordillo. “Our goal is to remove them by the end of the year — but it looks like it will be completed by December 18.”

The removal of the towers — and the plant — will allow the city to use the site for development. The location was once planned as the site for resort operator Gaylord Entertainment’s $1 billion hotel and convention center, before the company withdrew its plan.

For years, the city has awaited the decommissioning of the plant, which sits on 550 acres of land. But since the facility was designated as a “must run” power source by California Independent System Operator (CAL ISO), other sources of energy were required to come on line before the Chula Vista power plant shutdown would be permitted.

In 2008, officials said that two of three conditions must be met: completing the Sunrise Powerlink Transmission line from Imperial County to San Diego (set to begin in 2012), completing the Otay Mesa Energy Center and opening several new peaker plants designed to run during periods of high power demand.

Completion of the Otay-Metro Powerloop, a 52-mile 230 kv underground transmission line that links Chula Vista, National City and San Diego, as well as the Silvergate Transmission Substation project, helped to add more generation and transmission capacity to the local electric grid, according to the Port of San Diego.

“Two of the four power units will be taken offline beginning January 1, 2010,” explained Marguerite Elicone, senior public relations specialist for the port. “We are hoping that CAL ISO will remove the “must run” status from the plant in 2010, also.”

Dynergy, the plant’s leaseholder, explained that once the plant is decommissioned, it would take 18 months to dismantle. The area will then be cleaned for future development.


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