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A bio-factory in National City's future? Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Dec 24 2011 12:00 PM

The Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners will begin seeking proposals from interested businesses to develop a renewable energy facility in National City.
The decision comes after the idea was presented to the port’s environmental and maritime advisory committees in October, where both committees referred the proposal to the board.
At a meeting last week, the port approved a staff recommendation to consider developing the facility on the tidelands and will review requests for statements of interest and qualifications by the end of January.
Port staff recommended the area for renewable energy production on Tidelands Avenue in National City between Civic Center and Bay Marina Drive, which is dominated mostly by industrial maritime uses with several locations suitable for development.
“It’s (the tidelands) an area of maritime industrial property and it’s got a variety of interesting tenants, some that can be transformed into renewed energies,” senior asset manager in the real estate department for the port Paul Brown said.
The project also supports the district’s mission for innovative and alternative uses for tidelands in sustainable development as well as goals to enhance and sustain a dynamic and diverse waterfront.
National City Mayor Ron Morrison said this would be the first renewable energy facility of its kind in National City.
“This is something that will actually produce something that can make a difference,” he said. “This is something tangible that can help the entire region.”
Within their proposals, businesses will need to identify public benefits of use and revenue, potential uses and developers, a business model that demonstrates a link to the marine-related industrial land use designation and submit information regarding financial feasibility.
Kelly Sarber is a national project developer in renewable energy and approached the port with a proposal to develop a renewable energy facility for a two-acre site that would produce synthetic natural gas from municipal garbage recycling.
Sarber said that if created, the facility would be one of the first organic digesters developed in the country, specifically for commercial waste and could help cut back dependence on fossil fuel.
“Our country is struggling to wean itself off foreign fossil fuels,” Sarber said. “I think it’s a great idea for the region because it solves a lot of problems in an environmentally friendly, job creating way. It would be available all the time, safely generating power.”
Morrison said that host fees would have to be negotiated but that the source of revenue would be just like sales tax and that by having the facility in urban areas closer to consumption there are more benefits.

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