Power Plant Intake for Desalination Planned

By Published On: February 6, 2009

Whether water or energy use is given higher priority when the two resources are intertwined needs to be put into context. For example, using reclaimed water to cool the Scattergood plant and sending its power to an energy-intensive desalination facility piggybacking on another power plant’s intake structure makes little sense. It would make more sense to use the reclaimed water directly for potable supplies. Desalination plants use a large amount of electricity to push seawater through membranes to separate out the salt from the water. Against the advice of its staff, the California Coastal Commission in November 2007 approved a controversial proposal by Poseiden to convert salt water to potable water by using NRG Energy’s Carlsbad power plant intake structure. However, the commission required a number of conditions to reduce the project’s environmental effects, including marine ecosystem and greenhouse gas impacts. The following January, the Surfrider Foundation and the Planning and Conservation League challenge the decision (Circuit, Jan. 8, 2008). Two other suits were subsequently filed. “Whether or not you support desalination, it has to be done responsibly and according to law,” said Joe Geever, Surfriders’s California policy coordinator The challenges were consolidated in the San Diego Superior Court. The first of three hearings is set for March 3. The other two hearings are set for May 8 and June 12.

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