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Power plant opens early, sparks concern from some

By Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, glee@kesq.com
Published On: May 17 2013 08:54:20 PM CDT
Updated On: May 17 2013 09:23:52 PM CDT

A brand new natural gas-fired power plant is going up near Desert Hot Springs. A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday marked the official start of construction for the CPV Sentinel Energy Project.

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -

California's newest power plant, the 800-megawatt CPV Sentinel Energy Project began flowing electricity to the grid three months early, in time for the summer heat.  The plant will serve as a "peaking" plant, which means it will provide immediate power at times of high demand and critical backup for the intermittent power from the region's solar and wind projects.  The $900 million project is located amidst the wind farms off Dillon road and runs off gas.  "With the summer approaching, with this project able to provide quick-start electricity within minutes of the need certainly benefits the residents of the Coachella Valley," said Mark McDaniels, the vice president of Competitive Power Ventures.

The automated plant can provide power to approximately 640,000 homes in Southern California Edison's service territory. The state-of-the-art natural gas turbines allow it to fire up in ten minutes.  The plant expects to draw a projected $30 million in sales taxes during construction and about $6.4 million per year in property taxes.  The plant also hopes to utilize the technology to stay green.  "We've literally reduced the emissions both air and liquid emissions, from the plant as low as possible," said McDaniels.

But not everyone's convinced.  Robert Terry lives near the plant and works with the group, "People Over Pollution. "It's the air, what they're going to do to our air, the people they're going to put in the hospital, the people they're going to put in early graves," said Terry.

Terry and the rest of the group want local officials to address their concerns and keep a close eye on the plant. "Right now, we still demand to get some monitors to see exactly what they're putting out," said Terry.

He says there's a monitor at the plant and the next closest is in Rubidoux.  McDaniels responds with this. "We certainly respect the opinions of Occupy Coachella and all the residents," said McDaniels.  "Again, we live here, we work here, this is our valley."