AES Huntington Beach takes major step in California review process

The California Energy Commission said March 11 that its staff has released the second part of the initial environmental and engineering analysis of the proposed Huntington Beach Energy Project in Orange County.

Part B of the preliminary staff assessment (PSA), which was released on March 7, includes analyses in the technical areas of air quality, public health and alternatives. The alternatives section includes analyses of options that could reduce environmental and public health impacts from the project, including new information on the potential use of recycled water for power plant use.

Based upon the information provided, discovery achieved and analyses completed to date, staff concluded that the project complies with all laws, ordinances, regulations and standards (LORS) with possible exceptions in the areas of land use and visual resources.

In addition, commission staff remains concerned with mitigating impacts from construction-based particulate matter pollution because construction of the new facility would take place for 90 months and overlap with existing plant operation.

The PSA serves as staff’s initial evaluation of the environmental, engineering, public health and safety impacts of the proposed facility. The PSA is not a decision and does not contain final findings of the commission related to the environmental impacts or the project’s compliance with local, state and federal legal requirements.

After holding a public workshop in Huntington Beach and receiving public comments on the PSA, commission staff will publish a final staff assessment (FSA). The FSA will serve as commission staff’s testimony at evidentiary hearings held by a committee of two commissioners who are reviewing the project. The committee will issue a proposed decision based on evidence presented at the hearings. The proposed decision will later be presented to the full commission for a final decision.

The Huntington Beach Energy Project is proposed by AES Southland Development LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of AES Corp. (NYSE: AES). The natural gas-fired, combined-cycle facility would be located north of the intersection of the Pacific Coast Highway and Newland Street in Huntington Beach. The project would be constructed on the 28.6-acre site of the existing Huntington Beach Generating Station, which would be demolished and removed.

The new 939-MW plant would consist of two independently operating, combined-cycle gas turbine power blocks that would replace the existing Huntington Beach facility. It would use dry-cooling to reduce water use and comply with the State Water Resources Control Board’s policy eliminating the use of ocean water for power plant cooling.

If the commission approves the project, which is estimated to cost between $500m and $550m, demolition and construction activities are scheduled between the first quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2022.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.