The 22-acre plant proposed by Radback Energy would provide a 620-megawatt, state-of-the-art natural-gas-fired generating facility supplying power to 600,000 households. Next week’s hearing in front of the California Energy Commission (CEC) will include public testimony and establish the facts the commission will use to make its final decision on the power plant.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, in the Oakley City Council Chambers. It will be the public’s last opportunity to formally address the CEC commissioners, who opened the fact-finding phase for the project in Oakley in November of 2009.
Oakley resident Donna Lagano told the CEC in a letter sent in December that Oakley needs the project to help restart the local economy: “I’m sure you’re aware of the economic impact this project will have on Oakley is unprecedented: millions in sales tax revenue, millions in property tax revenue, a community grant program to support the local nonprofit community, hundreds and hundreds of jobs, the ancillary jobs and income created for businesses and vendors servicing the plant. We don’t have the luxury of passing up this type of revenue; there isn’t another Oakley Generating Station.”
While the project has gained much support from the public and elected officials (it would reportedly create as many as 730 union jobs during the construction process and more than 20 permanent positions needed to run the finished plant), some Oakley residents are troubled by the permanent impacts the project might make on the environment.
Oakley resident and activist Paul Seger is concerned about pollution produced from burning natural gas, which could be hazardous to the environment as well as the public’s health. He said in a letter to the Press that the proposed power plant would “ceaselessly litter our neighborhoods, parks, schools, waterways, lungs and bodies with tons of this matter (pollution). While this is the same natural gas burned to heat your home and water as well as to cook your food … the massive plants will deliver much higher concentrations constantly.”
Lamberg said he and his team have done their best to answer questions and calm fears since the certification process began. An environmental study declared the proposed plant in compliance with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines. The plant would use General Electric’s latest lower-emission, higher-efficiency technology known as 7FA Fleet, and would be the first in the world to use this new technology.
“This won’t be the same old power plant,” Lamberg said. “We are taking every step to build a state-of-the-art facility. It will be the first of its kind, producing energy through an environmentally efficient process. Some people don’t want that in their backyard, but hopefully by continuing to educate the public, they will understand what a benefit this is to the community."
The pioneering technology, Lamberg said, is likely to evolve into an industry standard. “People all over the world will hear of Oakley when we’re done.”
The CEC is expected to vote on the project in May. If approved, construction will begin in June. For more information, visit www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/oakley.
The Oakley City Council Chambers are located at 3231 Main St. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m.