CEC project manager Lance Shaw gave a technical overview of the possible environmental impacts of the 900 megawatt power plant, never mentioning the issue on most people’s minds: the company’s dire financial straits. Nor was there a peep from the handful of Enron’s stony-faced employees and consultants on the matter.
The ice was finally broken by Roseville resident Nancy Peffley. “Be rid of Enron now,” she said. “Stop this analyzing—stop the licenses and permits—don’t waste your time.”
The audience perked up as she slammed the drowning corporation for its document shredding, failure to pay state taxes and hide-and-seek accounting practices. The outburst came as no surprise and the beleaguered Enron’s workers had a prepared response: “No comment.”
The CEC’s Shaw calmly noted the licensing review was continuing because financial considerations were not part of the commission’s analysis. But another agency involved in the review took issue with Enron’s faltering financial state.
Placer County Air Pollution Control District, which must issue an air pollution permit in order for the Roseville plant to move ahead, stopped its analysis of the facility’s air emissions because Enron has yet to pay for the staff time needed to process the permit.
“There has been no response from Enron regarding the funding issue,” said the district’s John Finnell.
Peffley also criticized the city of Roseville, saying it was more interested in the $700,000 in permit and processing costs it received from the bankrupt company than its citizens’ welfare. She added, “Enron robbed Peter to pay Roseville.”
The woman—who works at Hewlett-Packard but lives in the Sun City senior community—urged the city to send the money to Enron employees’ pension fund or a local charity. Peffley’s people also questioned the need for a large generation plant given the state’s excess power supplies. “We already have major polluters in Roseville,” said Judith Donato.
Some in the crowd raised concerns about who may replace Enron and the soundness of that energy company’s finances. Enron hopes to get the project licensed because selling it would produce desperately needed cash. And the process of approving more power plants for California moves forward.
The CEC plan is to get this plant licensed by mid-October, but that is far from a sure thing given growing challenges to its scope and environmental impacts.