Blog: Redondo Power Plant Low 2012 Run Rate Shows It's Not Needed

Despite SONGS outage and heatwaves, AES Redondo tallies up another year of single digit capacity run rate.

The CEC just released the 2012 run rates for power plants across the state.  One would expect that AES Redondo would have been running full blast to make up for the San Onofre Nuclear Power Generating Station (SONGS) being offline all year... especially since during this same time we experienced some of the biggest heatwaves in years.

But you would be wrong. Despite the SONGS outage and the heatwaves, AES Redondo ran at a paltry 4.82 percent of its capacity. That's right—I said 4.82 percent. 

To add insult to injury, this number is grossly inflated by AES Redondo's antedeluvian technology. It takes AES Redondo over 24 hours to ramp up and down. So it must be brought online earlier than needed. Then rather than shutdown overnight when power demand drops, they must keep it online for the next day. So this 2012 run time does not accurately reflect the need. New plants come online in minutes. 

When you combine this extremely low run rate with the fact that three brand new power plants are coming online this year adding nearly 1.5x AES Redondo's current capacity  in our part of the grid, it becomes crystal clear: a new plant is not needed in Redondo.

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Janice Davis February 22, 2013 at 05:32 AM
Meanwhile, Mr. Light enjoys the instant access, and all the benefits electricity provides. His computer, refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, microwave, big screen TV, garage door opener, hair dryer, etc...sorry, scratch the hair dryer. But then he condemns and demonizes the means by which it's produced.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 05:11 PM
I don't condemn power plants. But I do think this specific plant should be condemned. We no longer need it. It blights our harbor. It impacts business and city revenues. It is tightly surrounded by incompatible uses. Opposing a new power plant at this site is in the best interest of Redondo.
Kurt Antonius February 23, 2013 at 05:57 AM
Mr. Light is in the dark and and quite misleading. Sure, it would be great to have a little park instead of a powerplant. But that is not the reality. AES owns the land and unless the City of Redondo has hundreds of millions of dollars to buy it, it will reamin in AES hands. Their proposal is a good compromise. A smaller, more efficient and cleaner plant AND gives many acres of the land back to the city for whatever use it wishes. Furthermore, electical use is not going down in the future and I believe we will need the capacity. That is in the best interest for Redondo Beach.
Jim Light February 23, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Kurt, I appears you are the one in the dark. First, Measure A is a zoning change. It does not obligate the city to buy anything or AES to sell anything. It just tells AES what it can and cannot do with the property...just like the zoning for the rest of the city. The city has changed zoning for thousands of properties - those changes were legal and so is Measure A. Second, if you read AES material, they plan to develop the rest of the property. They moved their new plant closer to residential neighborhoods so they could free up the more desirable waterfront property for "mixed use" development... which is code for commercial and condos. There is nothing in AES' material that says they plan to give anything to the city. A new plant blighting our harbor and polluting our air is not in our best interest. A new plant pushed closer to residential neighborhoods is not in our best interest. A new plant with lower smokestacks releasing pollution closer to residential neighborhoods is hardly in our best interest. Opposing the new power plant is in the best interest of our town economically, environmentally, aesthetically, and medically.
Kurt Antonius February 23, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Thanks for your response Mike, but I was not discussing Measure A, just as your were not with your blog on plant usage. I was looking well past that, when the opponents of the plant would be coming up with other reasons to ban its existence. Secondly, reread the AES material, you may still be in the shade!
Jim Light February 23, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Kurt - Please point us to the specific AES material that you refer to. I have a bunch of AES paid mailers - I just see unsubstantiated fear mongering.
John Mirassou February 24, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Jim, your numbers are misleading and you are smart enough to know why. I can't believe you keep using this same old argument that has been proven wrong time and time again. Please explain how Redondo plant ran 40% of the time in 2012, keeping the lights on in Redondo Beach. I know you could make this argument, you just refuse to do so because contradicts the point you are trying to make. So you ignore these facts for your own misleading half truths.
Jim Light February 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM
AES only ran at 5.82% of capacity per the numbers AES reports to the CEC. There is no way the MWHrs produced by AES "powered Redondo". They simply do not produce a significant amount of power. And that power goes way inland before redistribution to the grid, not to Redondo. My statement is backed by data AES must report to the CEC. It is your statement that is deceptive. If Redondo relied on AES Redondo for their power, our lights would be out most of the time. But if I am wrong, the CEC can override Measure A. Measure A FORCES the CEC to assess whether power is required from this site (this is corraborated by the City Attorney's Impartial Analysis). Then the CEC can only override our zoning if they can demonstrate power from this particular site is critical to the grid. Based on the building number of CEC, CPUC and CAISO reports, we don't think the CEC can support a finding that would override Measure A. That is why AES has spent over $240,000 fighting Measure A with factless fear mongering
John Mirassou February 24, 2013 at 03:36 PM
You also don't think AES can sue, which is nonsense. You also don't think a park will cost RB residents a dime, ridiculous. You also think Measure A will provide $4.5 to $8.5 million in tax revenue to the City where city staff puts the numbers a $1.2 - $1.4 million. You also think "we should do here, what they (Chula Vista) did there" - 30 story hotel and 20 story residential towers. You also don't think Measure A could cost the city dearly in potential lawsuits. You continue to only use numbers and facts that fit your position, ignoring all numbers and facts that don't. There is no way you could do your job as an engineer using only 50% of the information available, why are you trying to force this same reasoning down our throats. Then again, you are not gambling with your money, you are gambling with the residents money. Truth be damned.
Jim Light February 24, 2013 at 04:00 PM
I never said AES can't sue. I said their chance of winning is low and their chance of getting it heard before the CEC and Coastal Commission weigh in on Measure A would be unlikely. I've not seen the City's numbers but they don't make sense. I am unaware they were tasked to develop an estimate of the revenue. Their numbers are very low. The 45 room Shade Hotel was projected to produce $550,000 in city revenues each year. Measure A allows much more development. And don't forget, removal of the power plant's blight will raise property values and business revenues in the harbor. Measure A prohibits residential and timeshares. Any hotel can only be three stories. Chula Vista's power plant site is slated to be mostly park. You are confusing it with other waterfront development sites. I would love to hear real facts and numbers from your side. I have yet to see them. I am not gambling with anything. We are trying to get rid of the polluting industrial behemoth whose blighting impacts on our community are easily seen and well documented. Measure A is designed so the state makes the big decision, not Redondo - which removes key elements of lawsuit risk. It is also designed to let AES finish their existing contract - which removes the other key element of lawsuit risk. It gives AES the same development density as the harbor - removing another element of lawsuit risk. Instead of fear, send us these facts you claim we are ignoring.
Tim Sole February 24, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Good morning Jim. You finally have answered one question that I had not seen answered here before, by either side of this issue. That question is, who has control of the decisions. If we vote for Measure A, then, according to your above statement, the State of California has control of the decision process. I'm not sure that, we as local residents, should be giving up any control to the state. Specifically, when it comes to something as complex as this issue. Nothing against the "State House", but we are just a little community, in a rich area, that Senators and Congressman, outside of our area, may not care about. We live here, we do. I understand that their are somethings that the state needs to have control over. Any thing we can retain control of, we should.
Jim Light February 24, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Tim, We don't have a choice here. Power plant approval is with the CEC. But Measure A creates a conflict in the process that forces them to a higher standard of approval. If Measure A passes they have to demonstrate power from this plant is critical. Recent CEC, CAISO, and CPUC documents don't support that conclusion. And with three new power plants coming online in our section of the grid, the need for a Redondo plant is further diminished. CAISO documents call Alamitos and Huntington critical while showing Redondo is less effective due to its location on the grid. When communities showed strong opposition, usually through zoning ordinance conflicts, the CEC has denied the project in 127 out of 131 cases. Measure A is as close to the driver's seat as we can get on this decision.
Stewart French February 24, 2013 at 10:39 PM
"We don't need it!" Really? This argument is like saying after you fill your car at a gas station, we don't need this gas station anymore! It's not just about Redondo Beach, it's about the entire power grid of California and the Southwest. CEC knows the grid needs to be modernized, and AES is just one piece of this modernization. I refer to the folks who suffered thru Hurricane Sandy.
Jim Light February 25, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Actually Stewart, if you actually read the CPUC, CEC, CAISO studies, you would see I am not just tailing about Redondo Beach. The latest draft decision from CPUC is proposing only allowing 1250 MW of new long range power production contracts to replace the > 4000 MW power being produced specifically by our four once through cooled plans in the LA Basin. Their documents call the Alamitos and Huntington plants critical. El Segundo will be online this summer. All the evidence for our section of the grid, says that 1) we don't need AES Redondo through 2021 and beyond and 2) other plants are more critical to rebuild. Your fear mongering on Hurricane Sandy ignores several facts: 1) AES Redondo does not feed power directly into Redondo - it goes way inland for distribution to the grid. 2) The transmission lines are more susceptible than the power plants themselves to storms and other catastrophes. 3) In the event of flooding, AES Redondo is very vulnerable and is closer to sea level than most plants. In the end Measure A requires the CEC to validate power is needed from this plant. If the power is critical they can override Measure A. If it is not, then Measure A saved us from an unneeded power plant and its blight and pollution. Without Measure A the CEC will just approve the plant without a needs assessment.
Fred Reardon February 25, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Mr. French, These good ole' boy, oversimplified, analogies are just not factual. Actually...having too many, not considered "must run" fossil fuel burning/polluting power plants, drives up the cost electricity and detracts from California's renewable energy portfolio. Furthermore, based on AES's track record of keeping plants off-line for fake rate escalating shut downs, we should allow other, more trust worthy, companies to supply the electricity, if necessary. With the recent increases in clean renewable electricity supplied to the grid (now 20% clean on the CA grid), we should use this clean energy example and continue to supplement any additional grid needs with sources (unlike AES's proposed new plant) that do not pollute the air with harmful chemicals. Review the California Energy Commission's comments and the testimony of experts in the field, stating that the proposed new Redondo Beach power plant facility is not necessary. Do the smart thing and get rid of the toxic plume generating smoke stacks. Vote Yes on Measure A.
Wolfman February 25, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Janice, Jim Light is one the few candiates that is for the people of Redondo Beach and not in anybody's pockets. Who's Pocket are you in ?
Jim Light February 26, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Anyone can file a lawsuit for anything, any time. That does not mean a judge will hear it. If the state denies AES' application, Measure A is an upzoning. AES gets to complete their current contract. Done. No real grounds to sue. If the state approves their application - Measure A doesn't matter...no lawsuit. The state is making the decision. Not Redondo. That's the beauty of Measure A.


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