Morro Bay power plant dismantling unused tanks

Owners of the Morro Bay power plant have announced plans to dismantle six abandoned fuel oil tanks at the facility.

Demolition of the 32-foot-tall tanks is scheduled to begin July 12 and is expected to take at least a month to complete. The tanks are no longer needed because the plant runs exclusively on natural gas.

Removal of the tanks should make the facility more aesthetically pleasing, said plant manager Steve Goschke. The plant is owned by Houston-based energy company Dynegy.

Removal of the tanks will be done under the auspices of the California Energy Commission which will ensure the work complies with state environmental requirements for noise, traffic and other impacts. Silverado Contractors has been hired to dismantle the tanks and recycle the scrap metal.

With its three towering smokestacks at the north end of the Embarcadero, the power plant is one of Morro Bay’s landmarks. The tanks were installed in the early 1950s to store fuel oil and expanded in the late 1970s.

The tanks became obsolete in 1995, when the plant switched to natural gas in order to meet increasingly stringent air quality standards. Removal of oil from the tanks and other clean-up work began in 2003.

The plant is antiquated and operates only rarely during periods of peak energy demand. Dynegy officials told state water officials Tuesday at a hearing in Sacramento that they expect the plant to shut down in 2015.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.