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School Board to Consider Resolution Opposing Power Plant

More than a dozen people attend a Redondo Beach Board of Education meeting to convince the school board to oppose construction of a new AES Redondo Beach.

The Redondo Beach Board of Education will consider a resolution to oppose the rebuilding of the AES Redondo Beach power plant on Harbor Drive at an upcoming meeting, the board decided Tuesday night.

Because the current power plant uses once-through cooling—a process where ocean water is used to cool the superheated steam that spins the turbines to produce electricity—it must be retired, rebuilt or exempted from a new ban on the process by 2020. AES has filed plans with the California Energy Commission to build a new, smaller plant.

The power company's plans have been met with resistance.

Anti-power plant activists young and old filled Tuesday's meeting to convince the school board to take a position; however, because AES Redondo Beach was a discussion item, the board made no official decision.

The activists pointed to studies showing the impact of fine particulate matter on health, including the development of autism, asthma and heart disease.

"I'm deeply concerned about the future of our children in the South Bay," said Dr. Roger Light, a clinical neuropsychologist on staff at UCLA Medical Center. "Brain development is adversely affected by exactly the type of pollution that will come out from the proposed AES power plant."

Several students in Redondo Beach Unified School District also spoke.

Dana Esser, whose mother, Dawn Esser, is one of the leaders of the NoPowerPlant.com political action committee, said, "I usually see the smoke and the pollution (from the power plant) going over the schools, and I'm just worried about my health and my classmates' health—so no power plant!"

AES' application to repower indicates that although a new plant will run more efficiently, it would run much more often and thus produce more pollution annually than the current plant.

Nevertheless, AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft told the board that building a new plant would provide more funding for the school district from the new property tax assessments; a new power plant would indirectly create jobs because it produces electricity; and that the new plant would run more efficiently than the current one.

"The new plant will be cleaner, and it will enable more wind and solar resources," he said. "I'm not  concerned about the power plant. Mobile sources are responsible for a huge part of the particulate matter (pollution)."

School board members were divided as to whether they should take a position on the efforts to rebuild the power plant. Drew Gamet and Todd Loewenstein both indicated that they would be in favor of such a resolution.

"We are very active with the Blue Zones Vitality City initiative," Loewenstein said. "Very active. I cannot recall any city that's in a Blue Zone that would say, 'Let's build a new power plant.'"

School board Vice President Laura Emdee noted that the board should trust the experts at the CEC when it comes to deciding whether a power plant is needed.

"I have to let people do their job, and it seems to me if that agency doesn't believe that this power plant is viable or necessary, then that's the agency's (decision)," she said. "If I was to choose whether or not there was a power plant in our city, the answer would be, 'No, I don't want a power plant in our city.' … I'm willing to go look at a resolution, but I'm more willing to just put a bit of faith in the energy commission."

Nevertheless, the board did appear to agree that the resolution, when written, should only address plans to rebuild the power plant and not Measure A, which aims to rezone the AES property on Harbor Drive for a mixture of up to 40 percent commercial and institutional uses and at least 60 percent parkland.

Emdee and Gamet were assigned to come up with the resolution. According to Superintendent Dr. Steven Keller, the earliest the board would be able to consider the resolution would be during a February meeting.

Dawn Esser December 12, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I urge parents to email Ms. Emdee and Ms. Avick on their concerns about particulate matter pollution increasing from 500% to 1500% based on AES's own application to the CA Energy Commission. Also, please note that AES has pollution exemptions from AQMD, so they have a green light to exceed Federal and State pollution standards. Therefore Ms. Emdee's assumption that the State agencies will cover pollution issues and not allow a plant to exceed State and Federal guidelines in granting AES a license is not correct. If they do not want a new power plant in Redondo as they stated, a resolution stating so needs to be passed to let the CEC know how an important community organization, like the Redondo School Board, feels about a new power plant drastically increasing toxic emissions in its community.
South Bay Resident December 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
As a downwind resident of the AES power plant (my wife and I live in Torrance, but my two kids live in Redondo Beach with their mother DIRECTLY downwind of the plant) and one of the artists who has helped create information fliers and posters for the NOPOWERPLANT.COM action committee...I can say that AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft is making a moot statement regarding the creation of jobs, as everyone who has been paying any attention to the proposals for rezoning that land knows quite well that the new use of that land (still under ownership of AES) would also create new jobs as one of the best proposals I have seen suggests putting in some retail shops, restaurants as well as the proposed park, which also creates jobs...plus, there would be much less pollution than the argument by which Mr. Pendergraft suggests. This is the normal blather and drivel we hear from a typical corporate talking head. No disrespect...but he really has no argument whatsoever. Pollution is pollution, no matter how to try to whitewash over it. What is more important...the health of our community, our children and a nicer view of the Pacific Ocean, or just another giant pollution making machine which blows directly into our lungs on a daily basis? If I could vote on this, you bet I'd be voting against AES's proposed new plant. I hope that Redondo Beach residents are actually paying attention to this issue. My kids attend Redondo Union High. I want their lungs clear and clean thank you.
Dawn Esser December 12, 2012 at 08:36 PM
There is a typo in my comment, Board member Anita's last name is spelled Avrick. I apologize on the typo!
Mike Walker December 13, 2012 at 08:20 AM
CEC staff are in the employment revolving door with the fossil fuel industry as well as the "drive by" EIR report firms. Few realize CALpers is heavily invested in fossil fuels, possibly AES as well, people need to check into that. Very big mistake to trust the CEC process, they don't even include the loss in property values to be included in their analysis. For a full understanding of how the CEC staff operate, go to the public record at the CEC website and read the hearings of other power plant siting cases.
Jim Light December 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I agree. If there is no local opposition, if Measure A fails, we will get a new plant. The CEC is predisposed to rubber stamp a new plant unless the locals mount a substantial opposition. The rezoning of Measure A is critical, the opposition of the School Board and other orgs further bolsters the momentum. The School Board should oppose the new plant simply on the dramatic increase in particulate pollution. Per AES' own analysis, we already don't meet federal and state standards. Adding the increased pollution from a new power plant is going the wrong direction. This should be a no brainer. Not sure why there is any hesitation.
L. Campeggi December 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM
The hesitation likely comes from lack of knowledge, especially about the dramatic increase in particulate matter pollution; the kind of pollution that slows lung growth development in children, causes asthma attacks and heart attacks, has recently been linked to autism, and kills twice as many people annually in California as does breast cancer. The increased pollution data is in the AES November 20, 2012 new permit application to the CEC. We are citing AES' own data, unlike AES, who doesn't include THAT data in their mailers, meetings, phone surveys and other public propaganda. AES chooses, instead, to mislead, omit information, threaten lawsuits, and create baseless fear to divert the public's attention. All one needs to do is read the AES-Redondo application submitted to the CEC, under the Air Quality section, to fact check. Further reading of the AQMD acceptable air quality standards is also required, along with more reading about how AES is exempted from these State and Federal standards, using AQMD Exemption 1304. Many people haven't taken the time to go to those (and other) sources for the REAL information. There are also those who prefer to remain entrenched with AES rather than protect Redondo. Here's the link to the AES-Redondo application to the CEC: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/redondo_beach/ Here's the link to the AQMD Rule 1304 titled "Exemptions:" : http://www.aqmd.gov/rules/reg/reg13/r1304.pdf Get the facts. YES on Measure A
Mike Walker December 13, 2012 at 06:23 PM
CEC analysis is science governed by bureacracy, for example they do not include loss of property values in their socio economic analysis. In their air quality analysis they use data from the location of their choosing, not from the source and receptor sites. As one CEC staff told me,"sometimes we have to get creative to make things work." I encourage those that are willing to blindly trust one of the biggest *unaccountable* gov't bureaucies that ever existed, go to their record and read previous cases. The CEC is just one of the many gov't extensions of the fossil fuel industry, the scary thing about the CEC is they are not accountable to anyone! Look and see what CALpers is invested in!
Southbay December 14, 2012 at 01:12 AM
How come AES does not pay more taxes. I thought they said they were a private company not a public utility???

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