Two Redondo Beach parents asked the Redondo Beach Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting to consider passing a resolution to oppose the planned repowering—or rebuilding—of the AES Redondo Beach power plant on North Harbor Drive.
"Hazardous air pollution from this new plant will increase dramatically and will negatively affect the health of students," said Dawn Esser, an anti-power plant activist.
AES Redondo Beach has been at the center of a controversy over the past year, ever since AES Southland submitted a preliminary proposal to the state water board as to how it would comply with a new ban on once-through cooling.
- Continuing coverage: AES Redondo Beach Power Plant Debate
The aging power plant uses once-through cooling, during which ocean water is used to cool the superheated steam used to spin the turbines that generate electricity, so it must be retired, rebuilt or obtain a special exemption to continue operating by 2020.
AES has said that it will rebuild the plant; however, opponents of the power plant have placed a measure on the March ballot called the Power Plant Phase-Out Initiative, which would rezone the AES property for up to 40 percent commercial and institutional uses and at least 60 percent parkland. Power generation would not be allowed on the property after 2020 if the measure passes.
In addition to placing the measure on the ballot, opponents of the power plant have also asked the Redondo Beach City Council and various community groups and institutions to take a stand against the plant. At Tuesday's school board meeting, Esser asked board members to pass a resolution and write to the California Energy Commission to oppose AES' plans to build a new power plant on the site.
The California Energy Commission will ultimately decide whether to grant AES A permit to rebuild the plant.
"The project is in direct conflict with the Vitality City, Blue Zones Project that this board supports," she said.
Scott Kaplan, another parent, concurred. "I've personally talked with many parents that are scared about our kids' health … Parents need, they want, and they respectfully demand reassurance" that the board will protect students from pollutants a new plant may emit, he said. "This is important to thousands of parents in our community."
Because the two parents spoke about an item that was not on the agenda, the Brown Act—California's open meetings law—prohibits school board members from responding or discussing the item.
Nevertheless, board member Drew Gamet said at the end of the meeting that the board should consider opposing the plant.
"I think it would be a travesty to our community if we let this power plant upgrade go through," he said. "It is not in sync with the goals, both short term and long term, of the school district, so I would hope that we would be able to look at doing something along those lines related to the power plant and us taking a formal position on it."
It was not immediately clear if the school board will place an item pertaining to the power plant on a future meeting's agenda.