Blog: Article Corroborates Position of Power Plant Opponents

Another independent source shows AES Redondo Beach is unneeded and that rezoning is strongest resident action.

A recent article, “Power Struggle,” by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton appearing in the November issue of Our Southbay provides yet another independent source corroborating the position of those opposed to a new power plant in Redondo Beach. 

In the article, when questioned about the need for the AES Redondo plant, Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for the CAISO, stated:

Chapter three of our 2011/12 Transmission Plan and our testimony at the Long Term Procurement Proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission show that if about 2,400 MW of generation in other locations, like Alamitos and Huntington Beach, is repowered, then we may not need Redondo Beach. However, as of this time, there are no firm plans to repower any of those plants.

AES has filed an application to rebuild their Huntington plant at just over 900 MW. They had previously submitted plans to rebuild their Alamitos plant at just over 1,900 MW. Recently, the CAISO has deemed both these plants as critical to grid reliability. The Huntington plant has been officially designated “Reliability Must Run.” So the capacity of just these two plants would far exceed the 2,400 MW that the CAISO has stated they require for grid reliability.  

Several Councilmen, most notably Councilman Steve Diels, have denigrated the Power Plant Phase-Out Initiative saying Redondo does not have a say in whether the power plant gets rebuilt. In a letter to Congressman Waxman, Councilman Diels complains, “It [the initiative] ignores that the CEC is the permitting authority for power plants in California.”

Actually, it is Councilman Diels who is doing the ignoring. The Notice of Intent, submitted to notify the public that the initiative petition would be circulated, clearly states: 

The ultimate approval authority lies with the California Energy Commission, the contracting authority lies with the California Public Utilities Commission, and the permit allowing this facility to increase air pollution would have to be granted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The voters call upon all regulating agencies to respect the democratic process and honor our vote

So power plant opponents do understand the role of the CEC and other state agencies, but this does not mean Redondo is powerless in the process.  In fact in the Our Southbay article, the CEC responded to the impact of zoning on their decision making:

"The commission has no authority/jurisdiction over zoning and land use designations,” says Sandy Louey at the CEC. “The commission cannot approve a project unless it is consistent with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations and standards. If there is an inconsistency, the commission must meet with the local agency to attempt to resolve the inconsistency; however, the commission can override the inconsistency by making finds of public need and necessity."

Despite claims by several of the Council, the zoning is critical in the CEC process.  In 130 cases, the CEC has only overridden local opposition four times. We are doubtful that, given the growing mountains of evidence that the AES Redondo power plant is not required for grid reliability, the CEC could or would justify overriding zoning put in place by a vote of the residents. 

With Council’s unwillingness to oppose a new, unneeded power plant on our waterfront, the most powerful action residents can take is phasing out the power plant zoning by initiative. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

L. Campeggi October 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Councilmember Diels' was quoted in the article saying that Redondo Beach should drill for oil on the AES property to obtain millions of dollars to buy the property from AES. Great! Let's replace one polluting eyesore for another - one that stinks to high heaven - and become another Signal Hill (aka Porcupine Hill in Long Beach). We can use the millions of dollars blurring Diels' vision to plant winding rows of grass through the oil derricks for everyone to enjoy! Let's not worry about the massive weight (tons apiece) of the oil derricks sitting on a liquifaction terrain and close to a fault line. Let's just salivate over the "potential" of millions of dollars.
Jane October 17, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Was there any discussion of Henry Waxman's learned advice - that is - don't proceed with an initiative - it won't work and it will simply cause more and more litigation expenses? Or would that perhaps make too much sense to take the advice of a 17-TERM CONGRESSMAN?
Jim Light October 17, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Waxman understands that residents have no choice since our elected officials refused to act.
sheri patterson October 24, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Waxman ALSO now understands that Councilman Diels took money from AES and has acted as their puppet on this critical issue. His direct statement in his letter to Waxman claimed that "The Redondo Beach City Council assiduously pursues this issue with the property owner & the regulatory agencies"...(so dishonest). Nopowerplant made it clear to Waxman that Diels' statements were very deceptive. Waxman now understands this council has done nothing to date to negotiate a solution w/out a power plant. ZERO! It is their inaction & failed representation that drove residents to petition their government. The only meaningful action residents can take is to phaseout the power plant & demonstrate to the CEC that the citizens have voted to rezone and phase out industrial use on that site. That is a critical component in showing the CEC that the zoning will *not* comply with the permit AES is asking for. Industrial use on that land is a "conditional use", AES has no 'right' to another 50 years of polluting our neighborhoods, whether they own the land or not. AES may sue over the initiative but they won't win. We've had the best land use firms review the residents' zoning and it's solid. The most ridiculous assumption is to also assume that AES and RBch would not be able to come to a compromise settling this issue. Today, residents have NO negotiating power-- none! The initiative puts RBch in a position to explore options w/out a power plant. This council has failed the residents.


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