GenOn, formerly Mirant, is building a 27-acre power plant in unincorporated territory near Antioch on Wilbur Road in Northeast Antioch. Antioch, GenOn and the Contra Costa County Local Agency Formation Commission are working on annexing that area to the city. A staff report from City Consultant Victor Carniglia notes that the annexation process will likely be completed next year.
By providing water and sewer services to GenOn’s Marsh Landing Generating Station operation, Antioch officials hope hundreds of jobs will be created in East County. City Council members approved the action 3-0; Mary Rocha and Brian Kalinowski were absent.
“I’m excited about the fact that it’s going to bring more jobs to our city,” Councilman Wade Harper said.
According to GenOn’s website, the power plant could create about 300 union construction jobs at peak, and 16 operations jobs following completion. The plant, through property taxes and other payments, could pour as much as $6.5 to $7.5 million into city coffers over a 12-year span.
GenOn president John Chillemi, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said that construction, which started earlier this year, is scheduled to wrap up in May of 2013.
The plant will be fueled by natural gas, according to the California Energy Commission, something that pleased Councilman Gary Agopian. “It cannot be emphasized enough that we’re taking offline a dirty technology and replacing it with clean technology,” Agopian said. “Natural gas is currently one of the most clean technologies that’s readily available and is useable in the near term and is inexpensive, relatively speaking.”
Carniglia’s staff report notes that the amount of water the new facility will require – 50.2 acre-feet per year – is within Antioch’s capability. For sewer capabilities, GenOn will extend a sewer line from its Marsh Landing station to connect it with the city’s existing sewer line on Wilbur Avenue, which flows to Delta Diablo Sanitation District facilities. Carniglia said GenOn is paying for construction of the sewer line.
He also pointed out several other benefits that GenOn’s plant could bring to Antioch. As part of the agreement to bring a power plant to the city, GenOn will form a nonprofit entity benefiting Antioch’s community centers. The company will kick in $1.7 million. GenOn will receive naming rights to a center, and a member of the company will be on the nonprofit’s board of directors.
Should annexation fall through, GenOn will provide $500,000 per year to Antioch as a representative tax payment for the services the city is providing. If the site is annexed to the city, GenOn will pay $250,000 per year, supplementing property tax.
“This is an agreement that we’ve been working on for many months and is the culmination of a lot of hard work,” Chillemi told the council. “I’m asking you to approve this agreement tonight so the Marsh Landing project can have the certainty it needs for these services and so we can begin providing these fiscal benefits to the city as soon as possible.”
Antioch resident Bill Warrell, a lifetime member of the Sportsmen Yacht Club, noted at the meeting that while he has full faith that GenOn can be a good neighbor, his club is opposed to the annexation. He said the club, comprising roughly 300 members and located on Wilbur Road in an unincorporated area near Antioch, is content to get its services covered by the county.
Warrell, who has also been vocal regarding water issues, also told the council that GenOn’s payments show how much the Delta is worth to the city.