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“We are not approving a project, we are simply approving a lease,” water district board member Stephen Sheldon said as the meeting slipped past midnight at the agency’s headquarters in Fountain Valley.

– Orange County Register, December 10, 2013

That’s what is known as a distinction without a difference. You’d need an atomic microscope to split that hair.

Let’s say the lease wasn’t for a power plant but for a nuclear waste disposal site. Would anyone buy “We’re not approving a nuclear dump…”?

Yet this is the kind of sophistry employed by most of the OCWD directors who voted to lease Ball Road Basin to Competitive Power Ventures for the purpose of building a power plant.

OCWD Director Bruce Whitaker told the assembled members of the public that he wasn’t voting to approve a power plant “but to let the process move forward.”

Why let the “process move forward” unless you think Ball Road Basin is a good place to build a power plant? Why approve a land lease for a power plant unless one thinks the power plant is a good use of that land?

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The controversy over a proposal to build a power plant on an OC Water District parcel in Anaheim erupted seemingly out of the blue just a few weeks ago, it’s reasonable to ask where it all started? Especially since the OCWD Board is set to vote on the proposal tomorrow evening.

Speaking to the Fullerton City Council, OCWD General Manager Mike Marcus said the district determined six or seven years ago that the Ball Road Basin had no percolative capacity and was unsuitable for use as a groundwater re-charge basin. It was decided to sell or lease the land (which is an interesting statement since I’ve had an OCWD Director tell me the district would never, ever sell the property]. OCWD has been working with Anaheim for the last few years seeking to have the Ball Road Basin re-zoned from open space to commercial, in order to develop it for commercial uses as a revenue-generator.

The power plant proposal from Competitive Power Ventures did not come about as the result of an open bidding process in which the OCWD issued an RFP and selected CPV’s proposal from a pool of responsive proposals for a commercial re-use of the Ball Road Basin.

Steve Sheldon 150x150_0According to this July 26, 2013 e-mail from OCWD Director Steve Sheldon to Marcus and OCWD Director of Property Management Bruce Dosier, the wheels were put motion this summer:

Mike/Bruce:

I recently meet with Janice Glaab and her client, Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. (CPV), pertaining to a six month ENA for the Ball Street basin so that they can study the area to propose a 20-25 year ground lease. I understand that they meet with Phil, Denis and some City of Anaheim officials as well. Apparently their timeframe is relatively short because with the closure of San Onofre the PUC will be issuing RFP’s for power plants and they are identifying various sites. They will be submitting a letter on Monday and potentially a draft ENA (for Joel to review). Since this concept appears interesting I would like to call a Property Comm meeting for Friday, Aug, 2 to discuss the issue.

I am interested in an your feedback and comments. Also, please see below and attached.

-Steve

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