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Council Postpones Vote to Put Anti-Power Plant Initiative on Ballot

The decision comes after the council receives competing letters—one threatening a lawsuit, the other implying it.

Opponents of AES Redondo Beach will have to wait a few more weeks before their initiative is put on the March ballot, the Redondo Beach City Council decided with a 4-1 vote during its meeting Tuesday night.

The Power Plant Phase-Out Initiative officially qualified for the ballot last week with nearly 7,500 valid signatures. The initiative, if passed, would rezone AES' property on Harbor Drive for up to 40 percent commercial and institutional use; the rest would be parkland. Power generation would not be allowed after 2020.

The current AES contract expires in 2018. In the meantime, AES Southland officials say they're preparing to file an application to repower—rebuild—the Redondo Beach plant. Supporters of a new plant contend that the rebuilt plant would run quieter, cleaner and more efficiently, as well as provide needed flexibility for times when power can't be generated from wind or solar.

Opponents say the new plant will continue to depress property values and pollute more.

Because the Power Plant Phase-Out Initiative is both a charter amendment and an initiative ordinance, different portions of the law cover how it would get on the ballot, according to City Attorney Mike Webb.

At issue is when the initiative would go on the ballot. According to state elections law, if the initiative is not placed on the March 3 ballot, it would be placed on an upcoming statewide primary or general election ballot. The next statewide ballot is in June 2014.

"You don't have a choice (whether to put the initiative on the ballot) because you don't like it or you have qualms about the legality," Webb told the council. "You have to do so."

Because of AES' intention to apply for a permit to repower from the California Energy Commission, power plant opponents want residents to vote on the initiative before a permit is granted.

Webb offered the council three choices: vote to place the initiative on the ballot during Tuesday's meeting; instruct city staff to complete an environmental impact report and detailed traffic studies before the measure is added to the ballot; or take 30 days to study the measure before voting to place it on the ballot.

The council voted to allow Webb three weeks to research the legal issues surrounding the initiative.

No matter the decision the council eventually makes, there is a significant chance that a lawsuit would be filed. A letter from an attorney representing NoPowerPlant.com—the group that spearheaded the initiative—told the city council that the group would sue to have the initiative put on the ballot if the council did not do so in a timely manner.

On the other side, AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft strongly implied in a letter that the company would sue the city if city staff did not complete the more detailed review process, according to Webb.

"So it doesn't matter—we get sued either way … and pay either way," said Councilman Steve Aspel, who represents District One. "We're like damned if you do, damned if you don't at this point."

Check back later for further updates on this story.

Jim Light October 19, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Bobby - please tell us how you arrive at the conclusion the plant is "much needed"? Is it its 5% run rate in recent years? You are quick with names and light on facts. It sounds like you are one of the paid AES outreach guys. When you can't fight with reason call them names. I grew up with some kids like this. We called them bullies. Not the sharpest tools in the shed.
Jim Light October 19, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Bob - come on. This is econ 101 stuff. AES makes money on a long term contract whether they run or not. Electric power in California is not a pure economy driven market. There are politics and lots of government controls in the system. So it should be of no surprise that we have much, much more power than we need it. Bob, perhaps it is you who should use your head.
sheri patterson October 19, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Here's the article, Bob and below is a part of what it states. http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/obama-administration-threatens-to-pull-plug-on-jpmorgan-trading-in-energy-market-120924?news=845393 ------------------------------------ FERC’s action concerns JPMorgan’s alleged stonewalling and misrepresentation in providing information to government parties, and doesn’t address accusations of market manipulation. All five commissioners signed off on the show cause order, but two of them expressed reservations about taking a separate regulatory action when enforcement proceedings loom over the underlying issue of JPMorgan’s trading behavior. FERC became involved after CAISO, which runs the state’s electrical transmission grid, complained in 2011 about the banking giant. CAISO ultimately claimed that JPMorgan had gamed the state’s energy market to the tune of $73 million. Energy experts consulted by The Los Angeles Times say the scheme being investigated involves manipulation of the state’s market-based energy auction system. The bank essentially submits preliminary low bids for energy (perhaps even at a negative amount), thus qualifying for “a bid cost recovery” payment even if they aren’t accepted. Those bids would be money losers for JPMorgan if accepted, but the next day it submits real bids too high to be accepted and pockets the windfall.
Bob Boren October 19, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Lol....yeah, the fact that the Obama Administration is going after a business is going to convince me that you are right?????? Remember when Obama made the comment that, under his energy policy, electricity costs would "necessarily skyrocket"? Please. http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DHlTxGHn4sH4 There is a good name for you, Light, and your followers. Looters. If you don't understand what I mean by that, read "Atlas Shrugged".
Jim Light October 19, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Again Bobby...big on name calling. Light on facts.
Jim Montgomery October 19, 2012 at 05:48 AM
@Bob Boren: I believe in free-market capitalism, I don't believe in corporate corruption. Remember Enron gaming our electricity markets back in the early 2000's? AES and Eric Pendergraft (AES Southland President) were doing the same thing. They got busted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for keeping power plants off-line longer than necessary, artificially reducing supply and driving up electricity costs, ripping off Californians of over $10 million. Pendergraft was caught on telephone conversations with Rhonda Morgan of Williams in this conspiracy and they were forced to refund over $8 million. Check out: http://articles.latimes.com/2002/nov/16/business/fi-williams16 http://www.ferc.gov/legal/ceii-foia/foia/freq-req/11-15-02-appendix.pdf Do you really think AES or Pendergraft can be trusted? I encourage all Redondo Beach residents to vote to pass the rezoning and vote against any candidate for RB council or mayor that opposed the rezoning. AES knew the property was conditional use when they bought it and they have shown criminal behavior in the past. What will they do over the next 50-100 years if they rebuild?? The sooner we get this cancer out of our community the better. I applaud the No Power Plant folks for volunteering countless hours of their lives and showing the leadership to make the South Bay a better place for us and future generations. Leadership - something our RB City Council (other than Bill Brand) have sorely been lacking.
Fred Reardon October 21, 2012 at 07:50 AM
Bob, Remember, when you suggest that we aspire to accept Ayn Rand's principles, recall one of her main focuses...private property rights. The main private property right in question is our clean air. AES does not own the air we breathe. Therefore, you should be concerned about protecting our clean air private property rights and not advocating that it can be stolen by "the state?"
Bob Boren October 21, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Sorry, Looter, but Rand would be laughing at you right now. Using your argument, we should shut down any fossil fuel power plant anywhere, and also make cars, buses, and trucks illegal right now. Use your head. Scare tactics and lies used to loot from business is just evil. I doubt you understand that, but other people do.
Bob Boren October 21, 2012 at 03:22 PM
@ Jim M, a company which is convicted of doing illegal activities should be prosecuted. If AES is a bad company, they will end up in court over it. But again, that is not the point here, and even the looters running this anti-power plant lie campaign have resisted making this about AES being corrupt. Keep on topic.
Fred Reardon October 21, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Bob makes it very clear. Decide between cowering over a possible lawsuit or protecting our community from air, noise, and landscape pollution. Choose to stand up to a big bully or let the bully pollute the air, the landscape, and devalue properties in our community for years. Per Bob's argument, we should all just accept this new pollution in the name of Ayn Rand and her body of work? What? Insane. Maybe next Bob can start quoting Captain Kirk or use "the Force" to get the new toxic plume approved?
Fred Reardon October 21, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Bob, if you are so concerned about costs, why don't you consider the costs related to the negative impacts of this proposed plant like diminished property values, ear plugs, and increased health care costs? What about lost revenues from tourism because we have a stinking, ugly power plant next to the ocean, hotels, marina, and pier? From am economic development stand point, who, in their right mind, would want to have a power plant next to a tourism destination? You, deceiptfully, omit these costs and the private property rights of RB citizens from your "I'm looking out for your rights" argument. The only rights you seemed concerned about are those of AES. How much did they pay you to advocate polluting our families? AES does not have a right to pollute our air and community into eternity. Sorry Bob, obviously, many people have decided to let it be put to a vote. There is nothing deceiptful about protecting the health of our community. We are going to vote on it. The old American way. Bob (a misinterpreter of Ayn Rand), and AES cannot force new smoke stacks in our face.
Bob Boren October 21, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Looter, what you STILL don't get is that I don't believe that plant is a health risk. I brought Rand into this because of the story about the "dangers" of Rearden Metal in Atlas Shrugged, which all of the "experts" lied about. I believe that the looters behind the No Power Plant movement are lying in the same way, for the same type of reasons. Don't care if you disagree. It's a free country.
Jim Light October 21, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Try using Google Bob. AES has been in legal battles all over the the world for their power plants. In the FERC Case Jim M referenced, the whole legal issue was settled. AES has been misleading the public on their campaign here as well. Look at their graphic of the new footprint of the power plant... looks like open space. But AES is planning mixed use development...and they are not specifying the density. They say they want public input, but they engaged developers first and are now reaching out to Chamber insiders. Not the general public. They are paying residents to advocate the new plant without those residents revealing their conflict of interest. They say their plant will run cleaner to hide the fact that it will run more and therefore pollute more. I could go on and on. The residents have published independent facts. AES twists their story to deceive residents.
Jim Light October 21, 2012 at 09:20 PM
First we were statists. Now we are looters. Not sure how you justify that name. Looters take something from someone else and keep it for their benefit. Not sure what the individuals you name call will take from AES. Please show us, Bob, where we have lied. Over and over again, you are big on name calling and light on any substantiation.
Jim Light October 21, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Wow, you are really stretching your debate here Bobby. Let's see we are statist, evil looters and we brainwashed over 7000 voters to sign a initiative to phase out the power plant. Next you'll be talking about our unmarked, black helicopters and affiliation with aliens.
Diane Liberman October 22, 2012 at 03:22 AM
I agree with you! Over 7,000 valid registered voters of Redondo Beach. The City Council is obligated to put this on the ballet, not to cave to threats by AES. Diane Liberman, homeowner Redondo Beach and social worker
Diane Naletich October 22, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I think the name calling needs to stop. We can just agree to disagree on this subject. The bottom line is this - the people are speaking, and the role of any city council is to listen and respond. Their job is to be a public servant - to serve the needs of the citizenry - not their own agendas. If this continues, the people of Redondo Beach are not going to be pleased and repercussions will result. I'm sorry to see that my council is not responding to what the citizens of Redondo are asking of them.
Kelly Sarkisian October 22, 2012 at 04:34 PM
They are doing what they were elected to do. They are slowly and carefully weighing the options which is in the best interest of the city. Some people that have their own agendas want them to make a rushed decision which could be catastrophic to the city. Diane, you and your friends are are small percent of the total population. Keep that in mind when you make blanket statements about what the council is or isn't doing. You may be the squeaky wheel in this, but that doesn't prove you are the voice for the people. I know the scare tactics that bbr used to gather those signatures. I also know they didnt mention the potentialndownside to the initiative when hocking for otes. I bet if the write up on the ballot measure plainly states, " Will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation" the citizens will run from it. There are 69000 citizens in the city, a majority of which have not voiced their opinion. It's seems that BBR and friends are trying to force the city based on their wants and not what is necessarily the best for the residents. I think Hermosa had a voter approved initiative that has come back to bite them. Maybe Redondo is trying to learn from that mess and make an educated decision that will be beneficial to all. It's all about delivery here, your message is being lost in the froth and constant badgering. I am personally turned off by your tactics and bullying. If BBR really wanted this to happen they should have administered it differently.
Jim Light October 22, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Kelly, Please cite your reference for the conclusion that any hypothetical lawsuit would cost "$100's of millions". That is pure fear mongering pulled out of the air. The Hermosa lawsuit had to with a contract the city broke...nothing to do with zoning. And Hermosa ended up with $3.5M at risk. Not "hundreds of millions". Disregarding the 7500 validated voter signatures on the petitions gathered in just 40 days to delay the vote based on a ludicrous letter from AES is "convenient" and shows their true colors. Remember 7500 voters is more than any of our elected officials received in their elections. Yet we let them make decisions for 69,000 residents. Why not heed the will of 7500 confirmed voters and put the initative on the ballot so more of them get the chance to vote on it? We asked the City Council to take action for 2 years. We rolled out the initiative when it was obvious they would do nothing substantive. The only thing residents could do then was an initative. And an initiative must make or change laws - like zoning ordinances. AES is covertly paying residents to do their bidding. AES was implicated in the power price fixing debacle in the early 2000's. Newsweek just rated AES as Number 15 in their Least Green Companies in the US rankings. Now they are trying to interpret our City Charter to accomplish their goals. There seems to be nothing AES won't do to force a power plant down our throats.
Bob Boren October 22, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Looter, please site your reference for the conclusion that any hypothectical lawsuit would NOT cost $100s of millions of dollars. And I could care less if AES is "green" or not. Global Warming is a hoax (you looters are full of those). If they aren't so "green", that just tells me that they are smart and don't just go along with idiotic nonsense. And what is this about AES "covertly paying residents to do their bidding"......that's a hot one, but I'm sure you'll have some flaky link from somewhere that tells you that. Again, looters are full of that stuff.
Jim Light October 22, 2012 at 10:06 PM
There you go with the names again. Let's see, though it is a totally different situation, the Hermosa lawsuit did not cost Hermosa hundreds of millions of dollars. The down zoning and rezoning of much of Redondo in 1992 did not result in a lawsuit. The actions to rezone Bolsa Chica wetlands did not cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The rezoning of the Ballona Wetlands did not result in a lawsuit. The rezoning of 13 miles of Hearst Ranch coastline to prevent a new resort did not result in a lawsuit for hundreds of millions of dollars. The successful fight against Portrero, Hunters Point and Chula Vista power plants did not result in lawsuits for hundreds of millions of dollars. Do you need more? I turn the question around. Please cite a similar case that cost a town hundreds of millions in legal fees.
Fred Reardon October 22, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Re: the council's action...look up red herring
Susan October 23, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Bob, quit the name calling and we 'might' be able to have a real debate. “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." ― Socrates
Kelly Sarkisian October 23, 2012 at 02:56 AM
If you force this business out, or the city assists without carefully weighing out ALL the options there is a huge liability in regards to lawsuits. If AES would make just 5 million a year for the next 50 years that will multiply out to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income that AES could recover. Jim, you speak about how the other cases did not involve lawsuits. But your group has interjected the threat of a lawsuit into this situation. Your group has already sued the city, you cannot avoid those facts. I never disregarded the 7500 who signed the initiative. I do think its telling that so many of the total number of signatures where disallowed. I wonder why there were so many invalid signatures? I do feel the people who signed may not have been provided the total story. Your group has a very one sided view of the situation. Your group actively minimizes anyone who voices anything but Your views. Your group has even made printed ads that attempt to cause fear in an effort to justify your cause. If your cause was pure it wouldn't require such froth and fear mongering. I would love to see the plant gone but only in the most amicable way. I don't want the plant gone if it could bankrupt the city. I not want the plant gone if he city is going to be forced to waste precious money to fight a lawsuit from AES or BBR. You seem like a smart guy, use your intellect to find a better way. Your message is being diluted by your tactics!
Jim Light October 23, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Kelly, The initiative allows AES to complete their current power contract. If the CEC denies their permit, AES will have no future power revenue. If the CEC approves their permit, the initiative will not matter because they will have overridden the zoning. BBR sued the city when the Council illegally ignored the City Charter. The judge agreed it was illegal. BBR does not control NoPowerPlant, but if the City tries to delay the initiative's ballot date, I am sure BBR will work with them. The City should follow the law. The petition signature validation rate is higher than usual and it is higher than any of our other petitions. Most people really want the plant gone. Many were disgusted by the inaction of the City Council. AES continues to present their side. They have more money. I don't minimize anyone's opinion, but I will correct misinformation or unsupported fear mongering. NPP has put out one ad I think. It was a rebuttal to AES' misleading mailer. If you tell me what was fearmongering, I will gladly explain. I don't want the City to go bankrupt. I don't think the initiative will do that. We tried to work with AES on the zoning. They refused. Our zoning is very fair toward them. With no action from the city the initiative is the only substantive route for the residents.
Jim Light October 23, 2012 at 05:35 PM
On signature validity rate: The rule of thumb for California petitions is to collect 150% of the signatures you need. Validation rates range from 59% to 98% in a 2004 study with the average being 78%. For contests where all signatures were verified (versus sampling) the average is a 75.5% validation rate. In this case, all signatures were counted. Our validation rate was over 78%. On Measure DD our validation rate was about 70%. So we did better this time. We certainly understand the process better, which may account for some of it. But we also took six months on DD whereas we did the power plant phase out petitions in just 40 days. People get invalidated because : - They have a Redondo address but actually are in Torrance (always a pain here) - People forgot they already signed - People did not change their address when they moved to Redondo - People's signatures did not look the same - People were not registered - People had not voted in so long, their registration was no longer valid - People neglected to submit a registration card in time or filled it out wrong - The registration card was not processed in time by the county So there are lots of legitimate reasons that signatures on petitions get invalidated. From out experience, this was our highest validation rate of any of our petition campaigns.
sheri patterson October 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM
As a concerned citizen, I am grateful that Redondo residents had the opportunity to sue our city (or should I say our misguided city councilmen since it was 100% their choice to break the law). Is it pathetic that residents had to do this with regard to Measure G harbor zoning? Absolutely! It's very sad. But if not for BBR and the fine work (and honest work) that Jim and his supporters do, residents would have been stuck with elected officials believing they are above the law. The Redondo City Council and Chamber for years have been "the good ole boys club" -- and I hope more residents start paying attention so this comes to an end. On another note, how long does the city council need to weigh their options carefully when they have done zero to explore the impact a new power plant would bring? They aren't working behind the scenes. They have to vote to approve any work they do and they've never voted to approve exploring this issue at all. I can't see how any resident that has been following this issue closely for the last 20 months can say they are doing their due diligence and being cautious. That's just silly. They have done nothing. Nada. And meanwhile the clock is ticking in AES' favor. The councilmen are like heads on a stick --all talk, zero action. So is 20 months of giving them time long enough? Or should we wait until it's too late and AES has their permit?
sheri patterson October 24, 2012 at 11:38 PM
If residents understood the way the energy market works in Calif, they'd understand that greedy AES will pursue a multi-million dollar contract whether needed or not. They get paid to do nothing. And our rates go up to sustain these unnecessary plants and enormous contracts. The process of approving power plants is not one where residents or Jim Light can simply "use their intellect" to solve the problem. Intelligent individuals that have expertise in this field (like Jim L) understand the process and how to succeed. Yes there is risk. But there is a lot more risk breathing in 509 TONS of particulates, NOX and acid vapor into your lungs year after year. And that is 509 TONS annually (it's like the gift that keeps on giving). The documented impacts on our city from the loud and constant hum of their new cooling towers, to blighting impacts which hurts businesses and property values to the health and well being of our city--it's inexcusable for the community to not get smart and phase out the cancer in this town. Most residents understand this. It's a no-brainer. And unfortunately, most redondo elections only bring out about 7,500 voters (actually, that may be high). So considering the number of signatures we collected, it is a very good representation of how residents feel. There are a lot more opposing AES' plan than supporting it.
Dale Smith October 25, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Does anyone know how many tax dollars the city will lose if the AES power plant does go away? Is this going to impact the city government in any way? Has anyone even asked this question? Are electric rates going to go up? What happens if San Onofre never comes back online or has a meltdown?
Jim Light October 25, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Dale, This was one of our first questions. We have been briefing our findings since last summer and it has been posted on our FAQ's page for over a year. The City will lose about $400K in annual revenues from AES per AES' admission. That is about 4/10th of 1% of annual city revenues. The pier parking lot brings in about $1.8M per year for comparison. A city study looked at property values and business revenues over a 9 year period. Harbor area business revenues grew at 4/10ths the rate of businesses elsewhere in Redondo; and, property values were impacted 40%. The study attributed this to the AES plant calling it "the major blighting influence" in the harbor area. So the City has lost lots of revenue because of the AES plant. There is sufficient local power generation in the 2018 timeframe (when its current contract expires) so that AES Redondo is not needed. From that perspective, it will not affect rates. Remember, ratepayers pay for each plant regardless of how much it runs. As to San Onofre, AES Redondo is needed through next summer if San Onofre stays offline as a contingency to supply power to the LA Basin. After next summer, three new power plants will come online adding 1,900 MW of new power generation capacity. After next summer and looking as far as the CAISO has projected, power from AES Redondo is not needed with or without San Onofre.

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