The Measure A debate is certainly heating up. Opponents of Measure A say there is another way to stop a new power plant on our waterfront. We don't think so.
Work with AES
One prominent theme from Measure A opponents is that they believe we should work with AES to retire the power plant. I have asked our opponents to detail how this approach would work. After all, before Bill Brand and I even thought about crafting a rezoning ballot initiative, we met with AES officials and they made it pretty clear they would not negotiate on anything that did not include a power plant. They gave us the same response when we asked if they wanted to participate in Measure A zoning.
To date, the Measure A opponents have not answered how working with AES results in no power plant in our harbor. I suspect they have not answered because even they realize that there is no way to achieve this outcome working with AES.
Working with AES means we get a new power plant and some undefined mixed use development on the rest of their property. AES moved the new plant to the very eastern edge of their property…much closer to high density residential neighborhoods… to maximize the amount of land they can develop. This sounds eerily similar to another low point in Redondo city planning. The last time the City and AES worked together for a mixed use development and a smaller, cleaner plant, we got Heart of the City with a new power plant, 600,000 sq ft of new commercial development AND 3000 condos. AES planned to build 1500 condos on their property under Heart of the City. Our City Council rubber stamped it and it was only resident referendum petition that stopped it last time.
So the track record of working with AES is a disaster. We should not repeat this history.
Intervene with the CEC
Several of the Measure A opponents have said we don’t need rezoning, we can stop a new power plant by working with the CEC. They cited the CEC’s disapproval of an application for Sand Francisco’s Portrero Plant as an example.
If you look at the record of how the Portrero power plant was defeated, you will find that the City established their opposition to a new plant a decade before the application. The first resolution opposing the power plant was issued by the Board of Supervisors in 2001. And after that a stream of resolutions, stricter compliance ordinances, and correspondence and agreements with the CEC and CPUC continued over the following decade. The CEC denied the new power plant application when it was submitted in 2011, after a decade of strong, constant and frequent opposition actions by the city.
Recently the City of Carlsbad failed in their opposition to a new power plant in their town. When we talked with their City officials, they told us they started way too late. Bill Brand and the residents of Redondo have been pleading with the Council to take action for well over two years. To date there is zero resolution to oppose the power plant. We are WAAAYYYY too late to go down this path.
All one need do is look at the letter the CEC sent back to the City of Redondo to see the handwriting on the wall. The City sent a letter to the CEC citing substantial holes in AES’ application environmental analyses. The CEC basically replied “noted”, but they did not require AES to supply the missing data or redo the flawed analyses that the City requested. It is very clear, participating in the CEC process at this stage of the game is an exercise in futility.
Measure A is the only way
When asked what we should do given that we are so late to the game, officials from San Francisco, Chula Vista and Carlsbad agreed that our best chance was rezoning. And that rezoning by public vote would send the strongest message.
As noted in City Attorney Mike Webb’s impartial analysis of Measure A, rezoning to prohibit a new plant forces the CEC to do a power needs analysis. The CEC must provide evidence that power from this specific site is critical to grid reliability. We are confident the CEC would have a tough time coming to that conclusion.
There is mountains of evidence and testimony that shows AES Redondo is not critical the grid. In fact the most recent CPUC draft decision allows only 1000-1200 MW of new gas-fired power procurement in our part of the grid to replace ocean water cooled power plants like AES Redondo. Currently El Segundo is nearing completion of a new power plant that can produce 560 MW. Huntington has been deemed “Reliability—Must Run” and AES has submitted an application to rebuild it at 900 MW capacity. And the ISO currently concludes that an outage at Alamitos is currently the greatest risk to our grid reliability. AES has submitted a plan to the State Water Resources Control Board to rebuild Alamitos at its full 1,900MW capacity. These three plants far exceed the CPUC limit of what is needed. And just as importantly, the Alamitos and Huntington plants are more critical due to their location on the grid. Power from AES Redondo is just not needed for grid reliability.
Measure A is the only way Redondo residents can force the CEC to do a power needs analysis. And that power needs analysis is our only chance to stop a new power plant from blighting our harbor for the next 50 years.