AES Southland's application to repower the AES Redondo Beach power plant on Harbor Drive is "data inadequate," the California Energy Commission ruled Wednesday morning at its meeting in Sacramento.
The ruling means that AES must resubmit a more detailed application to the CEC.
Councilmen Bill Brand and Matt Kilroy, as well as several private citizens, urged the commission to find the application data inadequate due to its lack of analysis on alternative sites, air pollution and other matters.
"We would like the commission and the staff to view the regulations as liberally as possible to include as much information as possible" in the application, Kilroy told the commission.
Brand, Dawn Esser and Melanie Cohen all told the commission that there was substantial local opposition to a rebuilt AES Redondo Beach.
"If in the final analysis this plant is not needed for grid reliability—it is not needed to maintain our electrical balance and grid structure—I could say pretty confidently that the council and the citizens of Redondo Beach would prefer not to have a power plant there," Kilroy said.
In her statement, Esser agreed with the sentiment. "I would say a huge, huge majority of residents do not want a power plant on this site," she said.
Jon Welner, representing the firm of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell on behalf of the city of Redondo Beach, emphasized the impact the passage of Measure A—which aims to rezone the property to a mixture of up to 40 percent commercial institutional uses with the rest as parkland and open space—could have on the project.
"This initiative, if it passes, will entirely change the zoning of this site as a coastal preserve as of 2020," he noted.
The city of Redondo Beach had initially argued in a letter to the commission that the application was deficient in 15 areas: land use, noise, traffic and transportation, visual resources, socioeconomics, air quality, public health, hazardous materials handling, waste management, biological resources, water resources, soils, geologic hazards and resources, transmission system safety and nuisance.
A letter from Building a Better Redondo and Brand also encouraged the CEC to find the project data inadequate.
Nevertheless, toward the end of December, CEC staff recommended the commission find the application data inadequate in six areas: biological resources, air quality, cultural resources, traffic and transportation, transmission system design and waste management. The commission concurred Wednesday and directed AES to add more detail to those six areas.
AES Southland Vice President Stephen O'Kane said Wednesday before the CEC made its decision that the power company had been working to correct the items staff had deemed inadequate.
"We are confident we can address all the information items the staff have identified and are very hopeful we can submit all the … data by the end of January," O'Kane told the commissioners. "We believe we have signed and presented a project that is not only consistent with California's clean energy goals but will be a key part of Southern California being able to attain those very lofty goals."
The aging power plant on Harbor Drive is a once-through cooling plant, meaning it uses ocean water to cool the superheated steam used to spin the turbines, and must be retrofitted, rebuilt or retired by 2020. AES has opted to rebuild—or repower—the plant.
The CEC must approve any application to repower, and deeming the application data adequate would be the commission's first step. Once the application is deemed data adequate, the CEC has a set period of time in which it can either approve or deny the application.
Also during the CEC meeting, South Coast Air Quality Management District representative Mohsen Nazemi noted that the AQMD must also approve a permit for the rebuilt plant; however, he said the application the AQMD received was missing data related to emissions.
"As part of this process … we also need to have a complete application in order for our staff to provide the preliminary determination of compliance," Nazemi said.
Once AES resubmits its application, the CEC will again review it for data adequacy.