LOS ANGELES-The City Council here has agreed to pay $228 million to replace an aging power plant with a new and more powerful one, a small but important step toward providing commercial and residential users alike with a steadier source of affordable electricity in the years ahead.

The new facility will be built on the grounds of the outdated San Fernando Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley. The original plant opened in 1954, when the area was little more than a collection of dirt roads, agricultural fields and a few new housing tracts.

When completed in 2004, officials at the Department of Water and Power say, the new plant will produce about 500 megawatts at day. That’s enough to supply power to about 450,000 homes.

Residents in many Southland areas have recently fought back attempts to build new plants in their communities, despite an energy crisis that has sent their utility bills soaring by as much as 200% or even 300%. But homeowners and commercial property owners in Sun Valley voiced little opposition to the DWP’s plan to modernize the facility in their neighborhood, mostly because the new and more powerful plant will be built with new technology that will result in less pollution than the ‘50s-era plant currently emits.

The new facility will be built by locally based L.A. Power Joint Venture. Though the privately held company originally planned to use mostly non-union labor, it recently agreed to bring in a managing partner with a long track record of hiring union help in order to gain support from the City Council and local property owners.

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