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CEC Deems AES Application to Repower 'Data Inadequate'

The application to repower AES Redondo Beach on Harbor Drive does not contain all the necessary data, the California Energy Commission rules.

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.

Walt Howells January 10, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Da! The almighty AES can't even submit a complete comprehensive document to our state for their core business. How long is the American public going to tolerate public corporations that abuse our enviroment.
Matthew Kilroy January 10, 2013 at 06:21 AM
As an interesting side note, after the meeting AES agreed that they do not want to build a power plant unless it is needed. Of course the definition of "need" can be interpreted differently, my definition is "required for grid reliability". I also stated that the CEC is the proper body to make that determination and the correct forum for the public to be heard.
Fred Reardon January 10, 2013 at 07:40 AM
Mr. Kilroy, Thank you for the update. Are you considering what the people of what Redondo Beach want?
Jim Light January 10, 2013 at 02:53 PM
But there can be a "need: without Redondo being the right place to address the need. Recent CPUC and CAISO documents show that if you put new generation capacity in the wrong place, it could artifically increase the "need" because though you added additional power, it may be in the wrong place to address the most likely transmission and generation contingencies...so to address those contingencies they would require another plant in a different location. This would drive up rates and add inefficient excess capacity.
Melanie L Cohen January 10, 2013 at 04:15 PM
I beg to differ with lawyer John Welne'rs interpretation of Measure A. It "does not" turn the whole coast into a "coastal preserve" in any way ,shape or form. If the gentleman would have done his due dilligence, and READ Measure A, he would see that the rezoning calls for 30-40% appropriate development and 60-70% recreational-- It allows for appropriate growth and development. Non the less, Redondo Beach does not need a new power plant under any circumstances. And by the way, there were other parties present at the meeting as well, including NoPowerPlant.com Director Dawn Esser, local Psychologist Dr. Lauri Zaremenski and representative of South Bay Parkland Conservancy all in concurrence that the RB waterfront is no longer an appropriate venue for a power plant and that AES application is deficient to even apply to the state.
Dawn Esser January 10, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Hey Matt, the CEC does not determine need unless they have to over-ride local laws, like zoning. So without Measure A approval, they will approve the AES Redondo project. Case closed. They are geared for approval without Measure A and everyone knows it, except for Council Member Kilroy apparently. Matt, maybe you should have joined our conversation with the CEC attorneys and Council Member Brand after yesterday's meeting in Sacramento instead of hob-knobbing with the AES Vice-President and their attorney. You might have learned that the CEC will only determine need if they have to over-ride Measure A. Otherwise, it's full speed ahead for a new power plant. You and the rest of the opposition to Measure A do not understand the process and are going to get us a new power plant with your incompetence. The California Public Utilities Commission determines 'need,' and approves contracts between companies like AES and Southern California Edison, not the CEC. The CPUC just issued an order last month for another 1,000-1,200 MW max in 2021 in the LA Basin. With the Huntington Beach project moving forward with no opposition at 900 MW and 560 MW at El Segundo, that leaves no room for AES Redondo. Do the right math Matt, not just math. Power generation regulations and legislation. These regulations are complex. The only person I know that has met with all the right State regulatory people (not AES!) and know these answers is Councilman Brand.
Melanie L Cohen January 10, 2013 at 05:31 PM
I stand corrected. :"Coastal Preserve" is the legal designation apparantly for the rezoning required by Measure A. But do not be misled. It includes appropriate business development.
Lora Mallen January 10, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Most of my neighbors in Redondo Beach would prefer to see long-term, renewable clean energy sources rather than a disgusting old power plant that spews invisible poison in close proximity to lots of people. If we have other power options, putting the health of our children and our seniors at risk is, in my view, unwise and immoral. It also goes against the teachings of scripture that call upon us to be stewards of the good earth. Message to the honorable Redondo Beach City Council: your constituents are keeping a close eye on this issue. Please do the right thing.
Matthew Kilroy January 10, 2013 at 06:09 PM
We will be asking, as an intervenor, for AES to do an alternate sight study. I am not sure exactly how that process will work from the City side though. Will we need majority of the Council approval to take certain actions as an intervenor? I also don't know if we can be overruled by the CEC with regards to our requests.
Jim Light January 10, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Matt, Asking and getting are two different things. If Measure A does not pass, there is no reason for the CEC to require a study of alternate sites. If Measure A does pass, they MUST perform that assessment.
Alexander Starr January 10, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Councilman Killroy'ss dishonesty is unbelievable. He tells the CEC he does not want the powerplant but has co-authored the arguments AGAINST measure A, stating the citizens' groups didn't hold any public input meetings when he was FULLY AWARE we did! It's also on the City's website! I don't think any constituent wants to ever believe an elected official would outright lie, but Kilroy has done exactly that.
L. Campeggi January 11, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Matt, You wrote "... after the meeting AES agreed that they do not want to build a power plant unless it is needed..." as if that means something. It doesn't. When travelling to Sacramento, paid for by taxpayers, the reasonable expectation is that you spend time learning about this process from members of the CEC, NOT "hanging" with AES. You can meet with AES right here in Redondo. YOUR "definition" of "need" as "required for grid reliability" is also irrelevant. What matters first is the CPUC's order(s) for electricity who last month issued an order for 1200 MW by 2021 in the LA Basin. With 900 MW for AES-Huntington Beach, and 560 MW for El Segundo in progress, that's 1460 MW; no need for AES-Redondo. And that's without San Onofre, or the other power plants in the LA Basin coming online this year. If Measure A prevails, the CEC would have to override our zoning for a new power plant. That's not likely when AES-Redondo is not ideally grid-situated to support transmission and generation contingencies. The CEC sides 97% of the time with public and/or city government when they oppose a new power plant, if that plant is not critical to the grid. If Measure A doesn't pass, then we're going to get a new power plant here. The CEC won't address whether or not a power plant is necessary in Redondo if there's no opposition to a new one. That's why it's crucial to vote YES on Measure A. AES knows this. So do those who understand the CEC process. YES on A!

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