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Morro Bay City Council votes to demolish power plant stacks

morro bay power plant.JPG
Posted at 5:38 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 01:50:03-04

The three power plant stacks in Morro Bay will be no more.

The city council voted against retaining the infrastructure from Vistra Corporation.

It's the official slogan of Morro Bay.

"It's three stacks and a rock. That's what we like to say," said Steve Ramsaur of Morro Bay.

"Three stacks and a rock" is the logo of Wavelengths Surf and it's also a brewery's name.

"It has become quite the icon for our area and it's going to be very sad to see them go," Ramsaur said.

The rock isn't going anywhere but the city says it has an agreement with the owner of the Morro Bay Power Plant to remove the stacks.

"According to our agreement with Vistra, by the end of 2027, if they have not torn down the stacks and the old facilities, they owe the city $3 million," said Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins.

"Vistra will now begin an evaluation of what permitting is required to remove the stacks and generation building by conventional demolition and no implosion," a representative from the Texas-based company told KSBY News.

The Morro Bay Power Plant was built in the 1950s. The world's largest battery energy storage system may take its place with an environmental review underway.

The city and the Coastal Commission will oversee the teardown of the stacks, which is expected to last a year or two.

"A similar power plant down in Carlsbad, Southern California, teardown is occurring right now and they had a 400-foot stack that's been taken down and they don't blow it up," Collins explained. "They start at the top and just kind of chip it away and force the contents into the column so there's not this huge bloom of hazardous material that goes into the community."

Critics say they don't mind seeing them go due to earthquake concerns and being an eyesore.

"The natural beauty of Morro Bay is beautiful and it looks like industrial waste next to it," said Regina Prokop of Morro Bay.

Meanwhile, Wavelengths says it will not be changing its logo even though the stacks will be no more.

The city council asked that Vistra consider some sort of monument after they're gone.

"Since it has such an important symbolism for our history and sort of our culture and people think of 'three stacks and a rock' as the same as Morro Bay so we want to find a way to honor that," Collins said.

The city manager says that the planning process to get the stacks removed will likely take several years.