Protesters call for 'no gas' at the Glendale Environmental Coalition rally in February. Photo credit: Morgan Goodwin
The reality and consequences of the climate crisis require us to stop spending any money on new fossil fuel infrastructure immediately. This is why the Sierra Club has organized and worked so hard to stop the City of Glendale, CA from building new gas-fired turbines, which will also cost hundreds of millions of dollars to generate more electricity than the city even needs.
In fact, we are now suing the city because they used a flawed environmental review to justify construction of what could be the last new fossil fuel power plant built in the state of California.
The Grayson power plant is a highly polluting, out-of-date facility that is set to retire. To replace that power generation, Glendale has the opportunity to build new clean energy and battery storage infrastructure, and to invest in energy efficiency and demand response programs, to reliably and affordably meet the city’s energy demand without continuing to pollute surrounding communities.
However, in the environmental impact report (EIR) for the Grayson Repowering Project, Glendale Water and Power (GWP) inflated the demand for energy and its legal reserve obligations to justify spending ratepayer money on new fossil-fuel units. In addition, the final EIR dismissed the air quality impacts of the Grayson Repowering Project and failed to consider pollution impacts on communities outside Glendale.
Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, is suing GWP to revise the environmental review to accurately account for energy demand in Glendale and the extent of pollution from new gas-burning facilities – including the proposal to mix hydrogen into the fuel, which could result in much higher nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, which causes smog and acute health problems. An accurate review will show we could instead reliably and affordably meet our energy demand with new clean energy, like solar and battery storage, demand response programs and energy efficiency. There is no need to further harm nearby communities and generate more climate pollution throughout the South Coast Air Basin, which already has the dirtiest air in the country. The Grayson power plant is also surrounded by several residential neighborhoods and near several childcare centers and public schools.
Despite years of community protest against construction of a new gas plant, and an inaccurate EIR, the Glendale City Council voted 3-2 in February to spend $260 million to construct five new gas-fired units totaling 93 megawatts at the Grayson facility. In response to community uproar, the city council delayed the purchase of those gas units and discussed plans to burn hydrogen along with gas to power the new units at Grayson. The consequences of hydrogen combustion were not documented in the EIR, and the city council has not acknowledged these risks. Even though burning hydrogen does not release carbon pollution, like gas, it does emit up to six times as much NOx pollution as gas, which would spew into neighboring communities and endanger public health.
If Glendale continues with its plans to build new gas units, the city could have the unfortunate distinction as home to the last fossil fuel plant built in California. Building these unneeded gas units will cost hundreds of millions of dollars for Glendale residents, it will stand in the way of California’s climate goals, and it will continue a legacy of pollution in the region. If the city uses the plant to burn hydrogen, as suggested by council discussion immediately after completion of the EIR, it will potentially increase smog pollution in surrounding communities.
For these reasons, we are suing the City of Glendale. Glendale needs to revise the environmental review for the Grayson Repowering Project to base it on the actual demand and reserve obligations for electricity in Glendale and fully account for the environmental and public health dangers any new gas and hydrogen combustion units would cause. A correct review will show that building new gas units is simply a waste of our money, and we should instead focus on building an affordable, reliable, and clean energy system that ends the legacy of power plant pollution in Glendale.