LS Power unveiled plans this week to build a new 620 MW power plant at the southern end of San Diego Bay. The company plans to use an air-cooling system - reducing some environmental impacts - and free up land for redevelopment along the bay. It would also produce power in a constrained basin, increasing system reliability. However, as with the rest of planned generation projects in California, completion of the power plant will likely depend upon the developer obtaining a long-term power supply contract, acknowledged David Hicks, LS Power public affairs manager. To that end, he said, the company plans to bid for a power sales deal with San Diego Gas & Electric, the local utility. The combined-cycle plant would emit about half the air pollution per megawatt-hour that power produced by the current facility emits. It would be dry cooled, eliminating use of water from the bay in the existing 710 MW plant's once-through cooling system. The new facility will cover 12.9 acres, compared to the current plant's footprint of 115 acres. It will sport lower stacks, rising 125 feet, compared to the existing plant's 185-foot-high stacks. Although the nameplate rating on the new plant is lower than that of the existing plant, the current facility is limited to 30 percent capacity, in part by pollution limits. Thus, a new facility would be able to create more megawatts. LS Power plans to transfer air pollution emissions credits from the old plant to the new plant, the company said in its California Energy Commission application. LS Power hopes to obtain needed permits to build the plant by 2008 and begin making power by 2010, said Hicks. The company will own the plant but rent the land from the San Diego Unified Port District under a long-term lease. Construction of the so-called South Bay Replacement Project would allow local plans for full redevelopment of 400 acres of waterfront in Chula Vista to go forward, said Laurie Madigan, assistant city manager. The city and port are planning on a mixed-use development, including parkland. The new plant would eliminate the need for the existing plant to remain under a reliability-must-run contract and thereby allow it to be torn down, she explained. The Environmental Health Coalition - a local environmental organization - expressed disappointment that the existing facility would not be replaced with pollution-free renewable power. The coalition's executive director was unavailable to elaborate. "The project proposed by LS Power is state of the art in all aspects for a fossil-fuel-fired facility," said Bill Powers, Border Power Plant Working Group executive director. He added that the project is consistent with the San Diego Regional Energy Office's Energy 2030 Strategy, which calls for increasing the capacity to generate power needed at the urban center within the county itself. Construction of the plant raises questions about the need for SDG&E to build the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line from Imperial County, however, Powers added. He maintains that the need for the line is based, in part, on the existing South Bay plant not being replaced. LS Power said building the new plant may defer, but not eliminate, the need for the Sunrise Powerlink line. San Diego Gas & Electric, the utility behind Powerlink, said it still will need the transmission project. To meet future needs in the growing county, the utility must increase energy efficiency, develop more renewable power, and increase the capacity to import power into its service area, said Ed Van Herik, SDG&E spokesperson.