August 22, 2008

Palmdale Mayor Touts Plans for Power Plant

By Karen Maeshiro

PALMDALE -- The city's plan to build a $950 million power plant would not only increase the local energy supply but also drive job creation and attract businesses, Mayor Jim Ledford said Wednesday.

The city earlier this month submitted an application to the California Energy Commission to build the 570-megawatt hybrid power plant north of Air Force Plant 42.

In his annual State of the City address, delivered at a Palmdale Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Ledford touted the proposal as a job- generator during a time of economic challenges.

"This helps makes us more competitive in the region," Ledford said. "It will hopefully make us an attractive place for job creation. The focus is on job creation and providing opportunities for young people."

The city expects to have a decision by the commission by the end of the next year and begin construction in early 2010. The solar- and natural- gas-powered plant will be located south of Avenue M, east of Sierra Highway.

Construction is scheduled to take approximately 30 months and commercial operation could begin as soon as the summer of 2012.

Ledford pointed out that major Antelope Valley employers pay more for power in California than in other states.

"Lockheed Martin pays twice (as much) for power in California than it does in Dallas-Fort Worth. We are going to work on that and hopefully reduce that cost," Ledford said.

Chamber member Vernita Scott-Flanton said she thought the power plant could be a good idea.

"It will always help if we could produce our own energy," she said. "That way we wouldn't be dependent on outside sources as we are now. I would love us to be a model city of clean energy and a self-sustaining community."

Ledford also recounted the fiscal year that ended in June as a period of "economic challenges" in which the city saw a 9 percent drop in sales tax revenue and a 45 percent drop in construction fees and permits.

But he pointed to other projects that will provide opportunities for local business: the hospital under construction on Palmdale's west side scheduled to open in fall 2009, and a proposed city conference center that is planned near a seven-story Embassy Suites hotel in the Palmdale Trade and Commerce Center near the Antelope Valley Freeway and Avenue P-4.

Commercial development also is thriving on the city's east side, particularly along 47th Street East at Avenues R and S.

Among the stores slated to open are a Super Target, Home Depot, Rite Aid, Vallarta market, and Ross Dress for Less.

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