Eagle Rock raising a stink over Glendale’s biogas plant [updated]

EAGLE ROCK — The Scholl Canyon dump and landfill has once again become a source of tension between the cities of L.A. and Glendale. The issue of contention this time centers around Glendale’s plans to build a biogas-powered electric generating plant in the hills north Eagle Rock.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis this week joined L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council in calling on Glendale to conduct more outreach to Los Angeles residents and update an environmental impact report about the biogas plant.  While the plant would be located in the Glendale landfill, it would be Eagle Rock that would be hit with the biggest negative impacts, such as poorer air quality, according to Los Angeles officials.

The plant, which would be located near a ridge line north of the 134 Freeway, would use methane and other gases produced by the waste decomposing in the landfill to generate electricity at a small power plant. “100 percent of the electricity generated by this Project will help the City of Glendale achieve the State of California mandated use of renewable energy,” Glendale Water and Power, the city owned utility, says on its website.

But L.A. officials say Glendale failed to give Eagle Rock and other L.A. residents sufficient time to get involved.

“It is outrageous and unacceptable that Glendale Water and Power conducted no notification or outreach about their plans or environmental review to residents and other stakeholders, including my office and the County Department of Public Works,” said Solis. “I stand with my constituents in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and the First District in opposing the Biogas Generation Project.”

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, in a letter to Councilman Jose Huizar, said that no public meetings about the biogas plant were ever held in Eagle Rock. In addition, the council claims that the project’s environmental impact report “uses biased statistics to discount the negative impacts on Eagle Rock.”

The two cities have been at odds over the giant landfill before. Three years ago, L.A. officials and Eagle Rock residents complained about Glendale’s efforts to expand the dump, which is accessible to dump trucks only through streets in Los Angeles.

Glendale Water & Power did not reply to The Eastsider’s request to respond to Solis’ statement. But the environmental impact report commissioned by the agency  says the plant would have “less than significant impact” on air quality, including the creation of “objectionable odors” that would be noticed by large numbers of people.

Update on Nov. 20: General Manager, Steve Zurn, provided a response to Solis’ statement:

“The comment period closed on Thursday, November 9th, and will not be extended any further. The comment period was extended twice. We received comments from the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, CC member Huizar’s office and from LA County Public Works. We will prepare responses to the comments and a public Hearing before the Planning Commission will be scheduled for the future and will be properly noticed.”

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  1. According to project documents, methane (“LFG” = landfill gas) from the existing dump is now compressed and piped to boilers in the central Glendale power plant, where it is combined with ordinary natural gas to generate electricity. The (future) onsite generators are apparently more efficient than the existing boilers. Reading between the lines, it also appears that Glendale may be taking advantage of a LFG reclamation credit to modernize the generation system.

    There would be 4, roughly semi-truck-sized generators each capable of 3.3MW of power on the site. That’s about 13 MW. For reference, the Glen Canyon Dam generates 1300MW. So, this is a modest-sized plant, but significant for a small city like Glendale.

    Objections to this have the potential to go into pure NIMBYism. It’s almost certain that the new generators would be more efficient and less polluting than the existing setup – so the overall system would be improved, in terms of pollution, if this was done. Glendale seems to be incentivized to keep noise down, and the CFP is firm on this (“Facility noise compliance with City Noise Ordinance – this is a Must Fix guarantee”), although I didn’t see if there was a specific noise limit quoted.

  2. David Rocket Rowley

    There is an existing biogas plant in Griffith Park that i hike near frequently. I smell or hear essentially nothing. Glendale as usuall is trying to sneak something in. They closed the Pedestrian Underpass on San Fernando Road which was the only really safe way to get from North Atwater to Glendale without crossing railroad tracks and San Fernando Road. Next they will build a wall.

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