Atomic Armenia, Gassy Glendale


Interestingly, two places with heavy Armenian populations, Yerevan and Glendale, are the loci and foci of rising power-generation debates. Glendale’s timeline is one of several months, while Yerevan’s is not clear cut, but certainly further out.

The “Jewel City” wants to build a new, natural gas (methane, CH4) fired, electricity-generating facility at its Grayson location. The stated aim is to replace four smaller, older gas plants that run on technology that is much less efficient and more polluting. On the face of it, it seems to make a lot of sense.

A 3-D model of the proposed Glendale facility (Photo: The City of Glendale)

But, as always, there’s more to the picture. The new plant would significantly increase the city’s generating capacity to a level far beyond its projected electricity needs (almost 80% more by one estimate). Plus, the fuel used is one which is on its way out. California law requires that, by 2030, 50% of electricity be generated from renewable sources, meaning solar, wind, hydropower, etc. A bill was proposed this year that would have raised that threshold to 100% by 2045. While that didn’t pass in the legislature and get signed by the governor this time, no one doubts it will be reintroduced and enacted into law in the very near future. Hawaii already has set its 100% renewable target.

Where would the new status quo leave that brand new, $500 million plant? No one can say for sure. Surely, Glendale’s leadership is not clueless. Why embark on such a path? The underlying reason is the city’s finances. Cash is badly needed, and the significant excess electricity produced would be sold. At least that’s what the unstated hope and intent seem to be. “But, but, but…” you’re probably thinking, “Who would buy electricity from a nonrenewable source once that 100% renewable mandate is place?” And, it gets worse. California has done so well building renewable generating capacity that in recent months it has already been forced to give away electricity during days when lots of solar and wind power was generated, creating a glut of power. In fact, on a few occasions, Californians even had to pay other states to take the excess. In case you’re not aware, Glendale is in California.

Add to all this that the new Grayson plant will be spewing greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide, or CO2) and unavoidably some other pollutants. So, Glendalians will be socked twice—in the wallet and the lungs—while their neighbors in Burbank, Los Angeles, and Pasadena will bear the toxic burden with them. And, in case that’s not enough “dirt” for you, the project site has a known, major, asbestos problem, plus several feet of soil will have to be removed in what is an EPA designated Superfund site (this is the type of place that is so polluted that tens or hundreds of millions of dollars must be spent to clean up)!

You can speak up against this by going to to make comments about the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) of the Grayson project. The deadline to do so is 5 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Meanwhile, Yerevan is considering building a new nuclear power plant to replace the aging (41-year-old) Metsamor (Medzamor/Metzamor) facility. As it stands, restarting the nuclear power plant after it was shut down during the Karabagh movement was tolerable only because of the absence of alternatives and the desperate need for power. A new nuke, while probably better designed (the current one is somewhat like the Chernobyl plant that had its meltdown in 1986), would still be sitting atop the Armenian Highland’s many earthquake faults. It would still make an appetizing bombing target for our genocidal eastern and western neighbors. It would take years to build. And, perhaps “best” of all, it would run in excess of $5 billion!

Five billion dollars! If we can get that kind of money, it would buy a lot of solar panels and/or windmills. That would be a much better way to satisfy our homeland’s energy needs. It would not be subject to earthquakes, meltdowns, or Turks. Solar- and wind-generated electricity would be more distributed, reducing transmission losses. An industry installing and maintaining them could burgeon. And, a long shot, perhaps local manufacturing of solar panels and or windmills might be created that could then engage in exporting their products to neighboring countries.

One figure I found online puts Metsamor’s annual output at 2,265 GW·h (gigawatt hours). So, I decided to do some math for comparison. A 12 kW solar system, in Los Angeles, after the city’s Department of Water and Power rebate, costs $25,788. Given labor cost differences, I think it is reasonable to assume that the same setup in the Republic of Armenia is not going to cost any more. Assuming that only 200 days per year are sunny, and only for six hours per day, then it would cost $4,056,237,500, or just over four billion dollars to install as much solar electric-generating capacity as the current nuclear power plant. That’s only 80% of the replacement cost of the nuclear power plant, and, remember, labor costs will be lower, meaning even more capacity could be installed. In fairness, I should note that, at least initially, getting solar panels to Armenia may be costly.

Once again, we must engage in heavy advocacy and lobbying work to drive policy makers in Yerevan toward the environmentally, technologically, and national-security-wise preferable electricity generating options. Our homeland’s future depends on it. Get busy talking this up with your contacts in Armenia; and, while you’re at it, don’t forget Glendale’s potential boondoggle.


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. Armenia should strongly support and encourage the development of electricity from solar, wind, and small hydro. Generating electricity from renewables cost less. Renewables do not emit pollutants, and they are safe in areas where earthquakes do occur.

  2. You are completely missing the point of a Nuclear power plant.

    1. It maintains the nuclear know of engineers and scientists to quickly build a nuclear weapon in a very short amount of time.
    2. It gives access to materials to build at minimum a “dirty” device.
    3. Contarary to this articles point, it acts as “suicide” pill against Turkey, since if it was ever attacked by them, it will not only take down Armenia, but half of Turkey and the Middle East.

    For the above reasons, Turkey and Azerbaijan have spent millions of dollars in lobbying to shut down our nuclear program.

    Renewable is great, but giving up a nuclear program tolerated by the world is one of the worst possible mistakes.

  3. Any talk of shutting down Armenia’s nuclear plant, especially from within the borders of the USA, and especially in light of Turkey’s plans for several of them and their deafening silence, is typical of American Leftist Liberalism ideology which has infected a sizeable part of our diaspora as well unfortunately.

    “global warming”, “white male privilege”, “misogynistic society”, “dangers of capitalism”, “joys of feminism”, “black lives matter”, “LGBXYZ rights”, “indigenous people’s day (instead of Columbus day)”, “take down statues of America’s founding “racists””, “remove crosses from public”, etc etc are all part of the same hydra. These above are all pseudo-issues disguised as “rights”, meant to create division in a society for the ultimate nefarious aim of creating a drone-like, identity-less, unarmed, easily manipulated society of half-wits. This is how the “international rulers” solidify their grip on societies to insure their future tyrannical rule in the guise of “democracy”. We proud and patriotic Armenians everywhere must work diligently to make sure that such an insidious and cancerous infestation does not take hold in our Armenia, we are under direct attack, but some of us gullible (and comfortable) Armenians in America don’t know it. A book was published in the USA titled “Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder”. The more I hear Leftists/Liberals talk, the more I’m convinced the title is a fact.

  4. Regarding the notion that “Turks and Azeris will attack Armenia’s Nuke plant” – they’re welcomed to try, but they wouldn’t dare even if they could, unless they want their own territories contaminated with nuclear fallout, which is the real danger of a nuclear explosion. The blast itself would be limited in damage. What comes after is the real problem. In addition, the new plant could strategically be designed and placed so as to inflict maximum damage to Turkey or Azerbaijan in case of such an incident. Anyway, to me an irradiated and empty Western Armenia is much more preferable than an “East Anatolia” full of Turks and Kurds benefiting from their previous acts of Genocide.

    Armenia is a signatory of the “nuclear non proliferation treaty”, a tentative promise not to build nuclear weapons, but as Harut pointed out above, this can and must change in case of a real danger from our two enemies. Another reason why Armenia having the Russian Iskander missiles was a great achievement in Armenia’s security. Now I wish that Armenia would start its own missile program. Our two “neighbors” deserve nothing less.

  5. I read somewhere s long time ago that electricity producrd by metsamor was being sold to iran and turkey. Can anyone veify that with direct knowledge? If so, why selling if it is not even meeting armenias needs?

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