Clark Chronicle

Rallying for a greener future

The Glendale Environmental Coalition leads a protest against Grayson expansion

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Rallying for a greener future

A protester at the rally shows the sign that she is holding up to a boy in attendance.

A protester at the rally shows the sign that she is holding up to a boy in attendance.

Carlos Rodriguez

A protester at the rally shows the sign that she is holding up to a boy in attendance.

Carlos Rodriguez

Carlos Rodriguez

A protester at the rally shows the sign that she is holding up to a boy in attendance.

Carlos Rodriguez, Staff Writer

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 I stepped out of the car very close to City Hall and could hear people in green shirts shouting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Grayson expansion has got to go!” A car honked right after one of these chants and everyone began to cheer with pride.

Posters with sayings such as “Protect our children’s health” and “Renewable is doable” filled the entrance to City Hall on Jan. 23 and let passersby know that residents from the city would hold City Council members accountable.

The quick action was due to a proposed expansion of the Grayson Power Plant in Glendale, located on 800 Air Way, which is estimated to cost $500 million. According to the city, the renovation would replace seven of eight electrical generators which are expected to fail sometime in the next ten years.

Moreover, in a letter to customers, Glendale Water and Power outlined four points which it cites as detailing the importance of the Grayson Repowering project. According to the utility provider, repowering Grayson will “improve environmental quality, increase energy efficiency, provide power grid reliability, and maintain affordable rates for customers.” Not only that, but the plant “would use recycled water for all process and cooling water requirements” and place solar panels onto the new buildings by the time of the expansion’s completion.

However, opponents of the expansion argue that it would result in more polluted air and pose a danger to the health of Glendale residents.

The Glendale Environmental Coalition was responsible for this showing of 200 people who were there to demand that the expansion be put on hold while the city’s energy needs be studied. Protesters were also supporting the appointment of an oversight group that would represent Glendale residents outside of Glendale Water and Power interests.

This coalition is led by Dan Brotman, an economics professor at Glendale Community College. Brotman founded the coalition to ensure that the city makes use of clean energy and does so efficiently. “Our short term goal is to stop the expansion of the Grayson Power Plant and, in the long term, to work with the City of Glendale and reduce its fossil fuel emissions in order to make it a leader in clean energy,” Brotman said.

City councilmembers did not respond to email requests for interviews when asked about their stance on the expansion.

Only a few steps away from the protest, I looked around the protesting crowd. Among them was another student from Clark, whom I quickly noticed and went toward, glad that someone that I knew was there. Kai Ferragallo-Hawkins, a junior, was at the event because his father was one of the organizers. “I attended the rally to support a more unbiased view of the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy in the City of Glendale,” Ferragallo-Hawkins said.

Although the vote on the expansion was scheduled to occur that day, it was rescheduled to a later date. Nevertheless, Glendale residents made sure to show up either way, as evidenced by the large amount of people present, and announced that they would be back on Feb. 6 to protest while a new plan faced discussion.

One of the organizers of the protest got on top of the steps to City Hall and began to chant, which I joined along in doing. In no time he began to explain the motivation that the City of Glendale has in expanding the power plant — hubris. The organizer detailed how the city plans to build the largest possible plant justifiable that can go without being reviewed by Sacramento’s energy commission.

Jane, a volunteer in a vest who declined to give her last name, expressed the profound motivation that brought her to the front of City Hall on a Tuesday. “I live a mile from the plant and I have a four-year-old boy; I don’t want to have to move, and I’m not going to subject my son to something that could result in lifelong damage to his health,” she said.

Near the end of the protest, the organizers announced that anyone could fill out a comment card and then, if he or she wished, go inside of City Hall to speak about any concerns with the expansion. Willing to participate in some form and share my own thoughts, I went up to a table, got a comment card, and proceeded to sit on the steps to write down my reasons for showing up.

On the card itself I wrote that it is important for the city to remain environmentally-friendly so that future generations raised in the City of Glendale do not have to breathe polluted air and risk having their respiratory health impacted. I also explained that alternative energy sources have the potential to save the city large amounts of money in the long run and thus prove to be fiscally responsible as well.

As Feb. 6 came along, over 500 people from all over the city turned out to protest once again in hopes that councilmembers would hear their voice and vote against the expansion. The council agreed to allow Glendale Water and Power to complete and present the Environmental Impact Report on March. 2.

Glendale Water and Power could not be reached for comment regarding the effects of the expansion on the utility department.

A smaller gas alternative with renewable energy alongside it was also in talks during this City Council meeting on Feb. 6, which gives hope to the Glendale Environmental Coalition in their goals. Protesters have made their voices clear and showed that they will hold the city accountable in their actions no matter the cost.

As time has gone by, there have been varying opinions among the city councilmembers about whether the Grayson Power Plant should be expanded; three votes are needed to stop the expansion. According to an email from the Glendale Environmental Coalition, Councilmembers Zareh Sinanyan and Vrej Agajanian have come to the decision that fossil fuels are no longer the answer to serving the city’s energy needs. Further, Councilwoman Paula Devine has not stated her position on the issue but is gathering facts to decide as time goes by. The other councilmember, Ara Najarian, and Mayor Vartan Gharpetian, have not demonstrated opposition to the plant’s expansion, according to the coalition.

There is still time for these two councilmembers to change their mind on the issue, however, and for the coalition to continue fighting. This is because the Final Environmental Impact Report, or FEIR, has not yet been certified, in line with the coalition’s viewpoint, and a study of clean energy alternatives has not yet been commissioned by the council.

In order to make one last stand, the Glendale Environmental Coalition will be holding one more rally on the evening of April 10, the day when the FEIR will be presented to the City Council and possibly certified. Ferragallo-Hawkins believes that this upcoming rally will prove to be a good thing for everyone. “The movement’s growth is in part due to the fact that the protesters at this rally will be showing how their goals can benefit both them and the City of Glendale,” Ferragallo-Hawkins said.

Carlos Rodriguez, Website Editor

Hobbies: Playing the electric guitar, going on Reddit

Favorite shows: The Office

Places you want to travel to: San Francisco, Mexico, Canada, Norway

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Rallying for a greener future