Power plant near Desert Hot Springs not allowed to go online, for now

NEAR DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. - The Southland is baking and the power grid is being put to the test.

A power plant being built north of Palm Springs -- a "peaker" plant -- is designed to provide power when it's needed the most.

The CPV Sentinel energy project is being built among the wind turbines -- off Dillon Road, near Desert Hot Springs.

It's a gas-fired power plant -- a $900 million project which broke ground just over a year ago and is set to go online next summer.

"We do need power. But not this kind of power," said Bob Terry, who lives near the plant and is with People Over Pollution, a local group that believes the plant is an environmental nightmare.

"It's going to make this air poisonous. It's going to put people in their graves early. It's going to affect the young and the old first and anyone with respiratory problems," said Terry.

The group is celebrating a small victory after the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled CPV's offset credits are invalid.

Under the Clean Air Act, offsets would allow the plant to increase emissions or avoid reductions by committing to reductions elsewhere.

That can be done in a contractual agreement with another company.

Terry says CPV used offsets from companies that already had closed down.

"They said 'If they were still here, they'd be putting out X amount of pollution. So we can buy that amount they're not putting out anymore,'" Terry said.

The court ruled construction can continue, but the plant cannot go online until the offsets are justified.

The plant's expected to generate millions of dollars for the city of Desert Hot Springs. And on hot summer days, provide power during times of peak demand.

"If you want to guarantee power during the summer -- during air condition season -- solar energy is the way to go," said Terry.

News Channel 3 was unable to reach anyone with CPV for comment before the publishing of this story.

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