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Morro Bay skyline could change and lose power plant stacks

Exhaust stacks
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 00:55:03-04

Morro Bay and Vistra, the company that bought the old power plant, are negotiating a deal that includes whether to keep or demolish the three exhaust stacks and how soon.

Bev Murray, a resident of Los Osos, admitted, “I’ve lived with them and I kind of like them… I think?”

One tourist from Temecula, Adam Welker, said, “They’re really, really an eyesore."

Vistra bought the old power plant in Morro Bay and intends to build a battery energy storage project. But it turns out the City also needs to use some of the land, so they are negotiating a deal.

“We’re building a new sewer plant, and we need to run some pipelines through this property,” explained Jeff Heller, Morro Bay City Councilmember.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Vistra and the City would accelerate the timeline for demolishing the old plant.

“Facility and stacks, or just the facility,” said Scott Collins, Morro Bay City Manager.

But many people are attached to the three stacks. And some, like fishermen and pilots, even use them as landmarks.

Murray said, “Tourists will come and say 'oh, that’s terrible having those there.' And I say, 'really?'”

At a special meeting on Wednesday, the City Council will decide whether to approve the new agreement which would have Vistra tear down the facility by 2028, earlier than the original timeline.

The City would have until the end of 2022 to decide if they want to keep the stacks.

Welker said, “Look at the rock, and the sea, and everything else: it’s beautiful here. And then you look and you see those.”

City officials said they plan to use the next 18 months to gauge community opinion about whether the stacks should stay or go.

If signed and the facilities are not torn down by 2028, Vistra would owe the City $3 million.

The special City Council meeting will take place via teleconference at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9. Click here for the agenda and information on how to watch the meeting.