Morro Bay power plant stacks are coming down

November 3, 2021


The Morro Bay City Council voted 4-1 last week to have the power plant smoke stacks taken down, with Councilman Jeff Heller dissenting.

Mayor John Headding spoke of the high cost of rehabbing the rundown building and stacks, before making a motion to ask Vistra Corporation to take down the stacks. Heading also voiced concerns regarding liability and the cost of upkeep.

Before voting against Headding’s motion, Heller argued for the stacks to be reused in an attempt to differentiate their city from other coastal towns.

“I see this rather than something that’s old that we need to tear down, but something we need to look at with clear eyes as to whether it is possible to save it, reuse it, and make it a catalyst project and a world wide attraction,” Heller said.

The stacks have been a part of the Morro Bay waterfront since the power plant was built in the 1950s. Vistra, a Texas-based energy company, plans to replace the power plant with a battery energy storage system.

Vistra has until Jan. 1, 2028 to remove the stacks.


what a bummer. I understand structural integrity above all else but honestly this is sad. MB will be another Pismo. The county will spread its legs for SoCal developers and turn that town into a Redondo rehash as they have in South County. I honestly hate where this county puts its interests. Historical value is by the wayside as long as we can keep cranking out these garbage condos and “luxury” hotels that soulless people from Silicone Valley and SoCal can stay at while they cosplay small town life.


Seems very probable to me that Vistra will wait until Jan. 1, 2028 and just pay the 3 million bucks instead of removing the stacks.


God I hope you’re right.


The 3 stacks are a valuable aid to navigation for mariners at sea.


HAHAHAHAHA!!! Really? This is 2021 not 1621. Mariners are not looking for the stacks as they navigate towards Morro Bay from the open sea. Besides Morro Rock itself is pretty darn big.


It is my understanding Vistra Corp. pays all the cost of tearing down these stacks. If the City of Morro Bay wants to keep them, the City would have to pay all future costs of maintenance and repairs. Earthquake causes cracks… city pays. Old age instability, city pays. The cost to taxpayers would be astronomical. To me, this is a no brainer. There is no “romantic nostalgia” about these eyesores. Kudos to Morro Bay City Council…. I wish Paso Robles City Council had the same foresight years ago, when they refused to let the landowner tear down that old 1950’s 60’s Motel on Theatre Drive near the Target Center… Just because a structure is old doesn’t make it “must save” from demolition.


I feel strongly that they should stay. I have no basis for my reasoning other than my feelings. I’m not an engineer or a scientist but I Google alot so obviously I know things. These man made structures should be able to stand forever right? Too bad facts don’t influence my decision making process. I relay on my feelings.


Its time…its easier and safer to take down a stable stack than it would be to remove one that’s in bad condition…and rebar and concrete do not last forever especially on the coast…


Unbelievable, a smart decision by the Morro Bay City Counsel, those stacks have to have a shelf life and the cost of maintenance would be astronomical!!!

kevin rise

To the future. Can’t believe my grandpa worked at that place years ago as an oil depot when abalone was abundant and it was a generator spewing toxic crap above the city. How screwed are the tax payers for what I believe is the skeleton of Exxon, shouldn’t they pay to remove this crap? Or was it Shell, either way, they both suck, pun intended. Any sentiment is pretty silly to those toxic stacks built so high to disperse pollutants in my opinion, when you have Morro rock right behind it, a previous volcano and heritage sight of indigenous. Now the waste water fiasco continues. Morro bay is a gentrified mess.


Unless the stacks are in danger of falling, what is the reason to spend a huge amount of money to take them down? Have they been determined to be a danger to the public? If not, why waste the money? They can just stand there and be a reminder of the times when the state had adequate power sources.


More like a reminder of when we used the archaic method of burning fossil fuels to generate power and affected the health and well-being of both local residents and the planet as whole. But don’t worry, nature will be giving you plenty of reminders of what we did in the coming decades. It’s already happening now.