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Clock ticking for power plant Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Thu, Jan 17 2013 02:47 PM

Chula Vista city officials have said in the past that the end of the South Bay power plant means the beginning of economic development for the city.

Following decades of waiting, that vision comes closer to reality, with the plant set to implode at 7 a.m. on Feb. 2.
The decision was announced by the Unified Port of San Diego earlier this week and will go forward, pending weather conditions.

“On that momentous day we will witness the above-ground demolition of the plant,” Port land use senior planner Lesley Nishihira said during a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The implosion will be carried out by former plant operator Dynegy South Bay LLC and is expected to take less than two minutes and sound like rolling thunder with reverberations. In addition, a number of small, controlled explosive charges will be placed within the 165-foot-tall steel and concrete power block structure to help to bring it down.

The project is expected to generate about 21,000 tons of recyclable metal and up to 3,400 tons of non-hazardous waste, according to information on the Port’s website.

After the implosion, the site will be cleared of debris and environmental remediation and below-ground demolition work will begin.

The demolished power plant will make room for the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, which includes 500-plus acres to be transformed into a world-class waterfront and destination for residents and visitors.

On the residential side, Pacifica Companies has been involved in bayfront collaboration for 12 years and is building the residential portion of the plan, which includes 1,500 residential units, 15,000 square feet of retail, 420,000 square feet of commercial office space and a 250-room hotel.

City and Port officials project the bayfront master plan could bring thousands of new jobs to the South Bay and millions of dollars in annual revenue.

The Chula Vista bayfront received unanimous approval from the California Coastal Commission in August 2012 following modifications to the original plan, which includes public, RV and industrial business parks as well as buffer zones.

San Diego Gas and Electric began physical planning for the plant’s development on the Chula Vista bayfront in 1957, with construction beginning the following year.

However, the Port purchased the plant from SDG&E in the late 1990s to eventually demolish it, following a green light from state regulators to determine it was no longer needed for regional use.

In 1999 the Port leased the power plant to Duke Energy and in 2006 Duke transferred ownership to LS Power, which then transferred operations to Houston-based energy company Dynegy, South Bay.

In May 2010, the San Diego Port commissioners approved the city’s bayfront master plan, with a land swap between the Port and Pacifica Companies which was approved in December by the California State Lands Commission.

In October 2010, the California Independent System Operator notified Dynegy that the plant could be decommissioned and on New Year’s Eve the plant was shut down.

“I’ve always thought the last pillar holding the bayfront back was the power plant and now it’s been put out of it’s misery,” former Chula Vista councilman Steve Castaneda said then.

In October 2011, Dynegy agreed to remove the power plant in a bifurcated process by the end of 2014.

“The upcoming implosion of the South Bay power plant will be an important step forward in making that area development ready,” Moore said.

In an effort to protect the public, a land and water perimeter will be set up to limit access around the site.

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