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Edison sues Oxnard over water issue, toilets

July 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A battle over a new Southern California Edison power plant in Oxnard involves an unusual bargaining chip: toilets.

Southern California Edison wants to build a small power plant in Oxnard but the city has fought it. Officials say it doesn't meet the city's water policy.

So Edison says it will replace old toilets and install new, low-flow toilets in businesses and homes all over Oxnard, enough to offset all the water use of the new plant.

"It only uses the same amount of water as about four to eight houses. So just four houses, not very much water," said Mark Nelson, Southern California Edison.

The proposed plant would resemble one in Norwalk. It's known as a "Peaker Plant," used to supplement the power grid in case of emergencies or when usage is at its peak. After the rolling blackouts in 2006, the state asked Edison to build five of them in Southern California.

"The city hasn't taken any other position other than the water and it really does appear as though they simply don't want the 'peaker' to be built," said Nelson.

Edison filed a lawsuit against Oxnard. It sent a letter telling the city about its toilet-swap proposal.

No city official was available to talk to Eyewitness News Tuesday.

"The letter that Edison has sent to our city attorney, we just received and our city attorney has advised us that we really cannot comment on it until city staff has reviewed it," said Christina Aerenlund, city of Oxnard information officer.

The new plant would be near an already existing plant.

The issue is now in court. A ruling isn't expected for several months.

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