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Blog: Let the Games Begin

Residents should be prepared for the barrage AES is about to unleash opposing the Power Plant Phase-Out ballot measure.

AES wants to build a new power plant in Redondo and they will spend a ton of money in an attempt to fool residents into thinking it is good for us.  Take everything from AES and their surrogates with a grain of salt.  The barrage of misinformation has already started.  They even pay residents, including a Planning Commissioner, to do their bidding. 

A shell game and putting “Lipstick on the Pig”

AES recently announced they will build a shell around the whole plant to hide the new power plant.  Why did they suddenly decide to add the shell?  I thought they stated the new plant would be pretty much hidden from public view.  They spent lots of money on a big mailer trying to hoodwink us into believing some palm trees would hide their 80 foot tall plant and 120 foot smokestacks.. 

Fortunately, Redondo residents are not so gullible and saw through the smokescreen.   There is no doubt about it…if AES didn’t see public opposition; they would have never proposed this facade.  If AES really cared about our community so much, why didn’t they plan on a façade from the start?  Hmmmm…

The façade is much like the rest of the AES campaign for their new plant.  When you know the story is not pretty, you try to dress it up however you can. 

It is clear…AES doesn’t care about us.  They care about building a new plant.  And they will continue to try to coerce, intimidate, misdirect, and mislead residents into voting against the ballot measure that would phase the power plant permanently.  And AES will spend a lot of money to do it.

Avoiding specifics – the diversion and generalization game

AES knows that publishing specifics and facts about their proposed plant and its impacts on the community would erode any resident support.  So they use broad generalities that mask the specific details related to our community or they try to divert resident attention away from their new plant and its impacts.

Here are a few examples of the deceptive statements/tactics (beyond paying residents) already in play by AES and its minions:

  • We need the power from natural gas power plants to integrate renewable energy –True…but notice they don’t say that we need power from the Redondo Beach plant.  Their plants in Alamitos and Huntington Beach have been deemed critical…but not Redondo.  State reports and independent power experts demonstrate we won't need power from Redondo any more...especially with three new power plants totalling over 1,900MW coming online next year in our part of the grid.
  • The new plant will run cleaner – but they have not stated how much actual pollution it will put out at their planned run rates.  Based on other new plant applications we are confident the new plant will produce more particulate pollution at AES’ advertised run rates then what they report on the current plant.  Why won’t AES give us their estimates?
  • Power plants account for less than 1% of air pollution – across the whole LA Basin, but not here in Redondo Beach.  An AQMD rep testified that the power plant is in the top two.
  • Traffic puts out more pollution than power plants – again, across the whole LA Basin, but what about right here?  And so what?  Does 
    AES really think we can stop all traffic?  Of course not. This is not just deception it is a diversionary tactic.  We can’t stop traffic, but we can stop their new plant… and decrease our air pollution in doing so.
  • AES wants to invest $500M in our waterfront – yes, on their new power plant.  Some people have naturally misinterpreted this vague statement to mean they will invest $500M in new development and parkland.  AES has not disabused them of this misinterpretation.
  • The Redondo plant “operates” 40% or 50% of the time – their number keeps changing here, but their motive is to try to paint that they are needed.  But they avoid a bunch of critical details....Over what period?  How do they define “operate”?  I drive by the plant everyday, I’ve not seen it “operate” in over a month.  The real questions are: What capacity did the plant run at?  And could another plant have provided that power?  How much of that “operating time” was due to their slow 24 hour start-up time?  Through June AES ran at under 7% capacity…and that is without San Onofre.  Other plants could have easily picked up that load.
  • Residents don’t use parks – Really?  Go to Alta Vista, Aviation, Perry Park, etc. any weekend and most evenings.  And you will see how much Redondo residents don’t use our parks.  This statement is ludicrous.  We have a shortage of parks and athletic fields.  You can’t play soccer, football, basketball or baseball in the ocean.  Just another diversionary tactic.
  • The initiative is “flawed” – They have yet to point out any details of what is flawed.  But even if there is some nit, we can fix it later.  We can change the zoning down the road, but we only have this one shot at stopping the new power plant.  Voting against the ballot measure means Redondo gets a new power plant.

I could go on and on.  We can expect to see more and more of this in the next few months.  But we have yet to see any meat in their claims.  Where are the supporting reports and documents?  Where is the data?   All we see is generalities, attacks, diversions and misleading information.

Why would we trust AES anyway? 

Let’s face it.  AES wants to build a new plant, so of course they are going to try to put “lipstick on the pig”.  But beyond that, AES’ track record with the public is pretty poor. 

Councilmen Aspel and Diels both accused AES of running a campaign of deception when AES opposed adding a Utility Users Tax (a tax all of us pay) on their use of natural gas.  In fact, AES sued the residents who wrote the ballot argument supporting the tax.  Deception, fear and intimidation worked on the UUT vote… we’re seeing that same record played yet again on this issue.

And anyone who lives within a mile of the power plant has heard AES venting their steam with the noise of a jet engine – anytime of the day or night.  What is AES’ response?  Oops – we had an upset condition.  If you or I have too loud a party, we get the police at our door shutting us down.  If a bar gets too loud too often, the City revokes their permit.  But AES has gotten away with it for years and years through fear and intimidation.

While AES’ marketing material claims they are clean and green, Newsweek just ranked AES number 15 of the “Least Green Companies in America.”  According to Newsweek, AES has numerous environmental violations.  And AES has been sued for the environmental and health impacts of their coal ash on communities in the US and abroad.  Newsweek also takes issue with AES’ lack of transparency on environmental issues.  So why would we trust the green claims of their marketing material?

AES has stated they don’t rely on air pollution exemptions for their new power plant. But the plan they submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board says otherwise:

“The key assumptions for AES SL’s ….repowering program…include the following: 

Reliance on the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1304(a)(2) to comply with all necessary requirements for emission reduction credits for the repowered units….  The potential cost of emission offsets…would render the repowering program commercially infeasible.”

SCAQMD Rule 1304 is entitled “EXEMPTIONS”.  Sure sounds like an exemption to us.

Even current AES Southland President, Eric Pendergraft, was highlighted in the Federal Energy Regulation Commission’s (FERC) investigation into power market manipulation in California during the whole Enron debacle.  From the FERC report (http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/ferc/williamsaes111502osc.pdf):

“In particular, on April 27, 2000, Ms. Morgan stated to an AES employee that, “if your Unit 4 outage runs long and if you need more time, we don’t have a problem with that” and “if you need more time, just let us know.” Ms. Morgan then explained the reason Williams wanted the shutdown extended: because the ISO was paying a “premium” for the use of the non-RMR [reliability must run] unit.  …Ms. Morgan then stated that if AES extended the outage, Willams “could probably give [AES] a break on availability,” apparently meaning that Williams would not count Alamitos 4 as “unavailable” during the days of the outage….

Later that day, Eric Pendergraft, a high-ranking AES employee, followed up this conversation, expressing his understanding that “you guys were saying that it might not be such a bad thing if it took us a little longer to do our work.”  Morgan responded by saying “we’re not trying to talk yous[sic] into doin’ it but it wouldn’t hurt, you know, we wouldn’t throw a fit if it took any longer.”  Mr. Pendergraft responded: “Then you wouldn’t hit us for availability?”  Ms. Morgan agreed, adding “I don’t wanna do something underhanded, but if there’s work you can continue to do…”  Mr. Pendergraft stated, “I understand.  You don’t have to talk anymore.”… AES extended the Alamitos 4 outage through May 5….”

And there is more in the report related to similar shenanigans at AES’ Huntington Beach plant. 

If AES was willing to work with Williams to slow roll power plant repairs resulting in higher energy costs to all of us, why should we trust them on the impacts of their new plant on our community?

AES has a track record of doing what is in their best interest at all costs.  They have a lot of money they can and will throw at this campaign.  Residents should cast a wary eye toward AES claims, whether coming directly from AES or through their surrogates in the Chamber of Commerce and the community. 

When you cut through the money, bullying, attacks, diversions, generalities and misleading claims, there are no two ways about it…a new unneeded, blighting, polluting power plant is bad for Redondo.  And the only way we can stop it, is to vote “yes” for the Power Plant Phase-Out ballot measure.  

For more information go to:  http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/power-plant-faqs/ 

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.

Donna November 20, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Ugh, to money campaigns and to corporate bullying!
Dale Smith. November 21, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I hope the first thing they do is tear down the Whaling Wall mural and replace it with Union advertising.
Lori Light November 24, 2012 at 07:36 PM
We need all the help we can get to fundraise to spread the facts about AES and their plans to pollute our community. Please come to our Ceramics and Holiday Gift Sale. Saturday, Dec 15th 8am-noon, 3221 Gibson Place, Redond Beach

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