With California struggling to meet electricity demands as it transitions to clean energy, regulators on Tuesday, Oct. 19, approved another extension to keep the outdated, gas-fired Redondo Beach power plant operating through 2023.
The decision was met with frustration and disappointment by city residents and council members, who are eager to end the periodic air pollution that they attribute to the AES-run plant and replace it with a park and restoration of wetlands. A state grant of $4.8 million toward acquiring and improving the land has been withdrawn because of delays in closing the plant.
“You have to send a message right here, today, that there won’t be any more extensions, that this will be the last extension,” Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand told the State Water Resources Control Board before it voted unanimously Tuesday to give the final approval needed to keep the plant open two more years.
Board Chairman Joaquin Esquivel declined to offer any such assurances, saying he couldn’t predict future circumstances and couldn’t speak for the future actions of regulators.
“Obviously, this decision doesn’t come easily,” Esquivel said. “(But) we have to consider the needs of the whole state.”
With the exception of Los Angeles Power and Water operations, all of the state’s ocean-cooled, gas-fired power generators were scheduled to close at the end of 2020. That decision was made in 2010 because of the damage to marine life when seawater is sucked into the plant.
But after rolling blackouts in August of last year, energy analysts predicted future supply shortfalls, a result of climate-change induced heat waves and the comparatively slow pace of developing clean energy. So last year regulators approved extending the life of old generators in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Oxnard through 2023, and those in Redondo Beach through 2021.
The extensions through 2023 were approved with little or no local opposition. The plants in Huntington Beach and Long Beach had constructed more efficient, air-cooled replacement generators, and have been operating both old and new units, with most residents apparently resigned to ongoing operations. Oxnard supported the extension because of the income it would bring the city.
But in Redondo Beach, the plant sits amid a heavily urbanized area and the city has been eager to remove the industrial use. Residents and city council members addressing the board Tuesday — as well as two council members from neighboring Hermosa Beach — emphasized concerns about air pollution from the plant.
“Please show us that you value the lives of those affected most by this inefficient power plant,” pleaded Hermosa Beach City Councilwoman Stacey Armato.
While the state is transitioning to clean energy, most comes from solar and wind power that fades in the evening. In August through early October, when high temperatures and the use of air conditioning puts the greatest demands on the electricity grid, energy supplies can run low in the evening. That’s when the old power generators are needed.
The region’s temperatures are being driven upward by climate change, as Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, noted at Tuesday virtual meeting.
“I find it extremely ironic that we’re trying to deal with climate change by continuing to operate these plants that contribute to climate change,” said Muratsuchi, who represents Redondo Beach and opposed extending the plant’s life.
Also on the opponents’ side were the Sierra Club, Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation. Supporting the extension were labor union representatives, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Carson Chamber of Commerce and the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce.
- State approves plan to keep the lights on during summer heatwaves
- State considers extending Redondo Beach AES power plant into 2023 as it scrambles to improve electric grid
- Experts tell California Public Utility Commission to brace for higher electricity rates
- Los Angeles to close 3 power plants in aggressive move toward green energy
- Public Utilities Commission approves controversial extension for outdated Southern California power generators
Adding to opponents’ ire was the voluntary offer of AES, the plant operator, to donate $1.5 million to help with preservation efforts at the Cerritos Wetlands on the Los Angeles-Orange county line, and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach. Critics called, apparently in vain, for the money to be spent for projects in and around Redondo Beach
The five water board members said they took no joy in extending the plant life. Board member Sean Maguire pointed out that the Diablo nuclear plant is scheduled to close in 2024, and was apprehensive that the closure of that plant would put more pressure on energy supplies.
“I am concerned about kicking the can down the road,” he said. “I don’t want to be here a year from now and go through this again. I want to make sure this is successful.”
Source : https://www.dailynews.com/2021/10/19/controversial-redondo-power-plant-operations-extended-through-2023/947