Published in the Oakland Tribune/Alameda Times Star, May 2001
Presented at various city government meetings
Keep the Dirty Diesel Plants Out of Alameda
The decision by Alameda Power and Telecom (APT) to operate four unnecessary diesel power plants will create a very real carcinogenic health hazard for Alamedans. APT has contracts with energy suppliers that guarantee a surplus for Alameda. In addition, Alameda has conserved more energy than many other communities. Alameda, like other cities that have municipal electric companies, is under no obligation to institute rolling blackouts. APT has chosen to lease generators rather than use other load reduction methods. Blackouts are hardly the only alternative to pollution. The four diesel plants that APT is installing at Alameda Point will be fired up to provide power on the days when Alameda volunteers to blackout portions of the city. The areas of town that were to have been blacked out would then actually receive power. The argument for diesel generators seems disingenuous in view of the fact that there are two natural gas plants sited in Alameda intended for reserve and peaking duty. If these plants cannot be used because of economic considerations it is small comfort to residents in the West end who would bear the brunt of the pollution produced by the diesel generators.
Diesel exhaust is extremely dirty. It is known to cause cancer and many other diseases. Those most at risk will be young children, the elderly, and those living closest to the power plants. The California Air Resources Board recently declared that 70% of the health risks from air pollution in the state are the result of diesel emissions. The four diesel engines chosen by APT will create as much pollution as 124 big rig trucks.
While APT has a solid record of encouraging energy conservation and providing the city with power from renewable energy sources, it has exercised poor judgment in deciding to install these diesel power plants on the island. Five major points should be brought to APT's attention:
Ironically, the diesel plants will operate on those days when smog is likely to be at its worst, adding to air pollution at the worst possible time. The cleaner power that APT has acquired will be used to run air conditioners in the inland valleys, while Alamedans will suffer the effects of the diesel fumes. Long term, APT should consider solar or fuel cell technology, which are becoming more price competitive, or cleaner burning natural gas. For the short term, the diesel power plants APT has leased can, with either minor modifications or none at all, run on 100% soybean oil biodiesel fuel. This low-polluting fuel is available for immediate delivery from nearby Point Richmond, and is currently being used to power recycling trucks in Berkeley. Let APT know that you care about this issue, and that it matters to you, your family, and your friends.
The City of Alameda Green Party calls upon APT to not operate the dirty diesel plants that it has leased. Please contact APT General Manager Junona Jonas (2000 Grand Street) and urge her to not start up the diesel plants.
City of Alameda Green Party, a local of the Alameda County Green Party 510/865-7157, 522-0163.
The California Green Party vigorously opposed deregulation. The State politicians took energy industry money and ignored us. We are all now paying the price.
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