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.