AES offers option of new use for Redondo Beach plant site

The California Energy Commission is looking at the issue of whether to keep pursuing a case for the Redondo Beach Energy Project (RBEP), since project backer AES Corp. (NYSE: AES) may drop its pursuit of the current site for the project.

The RBEP would replace an existing power plant on a prime waterfront site, which has caused opposition to the repowering project from the city of Redondo Beach.

Energy commission staff said in an Aug. 4 update to the commission that at this time, it is planning to hold public workshops in September in Redondo Beach to accept comments from other parties, agencies and the public, in addition to any written comments filed.

But, staff added: “On July 23, 2014, Staff was informed through media reports that AES is intending on gathering signatures for a March 2015, ballot initiative that would replace the existing power plant with ‘Harbor Village’, a mixed-use development which would include residences, commercial space, a hotel, and open space.”

Staff said that this option of dropping the project for this site would mean it needs to revise the “No-Project Alternative” in its recent project report. “If the proceedings are not suspended until after the March 2015 election, Staff would need additional time to re-examine its No-Project Alternative to include the proposed Harbor Village development. Staff would request the Committee allow parties an opportunity for further data requests directed to AES, specifically focused on the project description of the proposed Harbor Village development and any potential environmental impacts. Staff welcomes a formal discussion before the Committee regarding AES’ plans to develop the current project site, and whether AES is intending on moving forward with its Application for Certification.”

The city of Redondo Beach filed an Aug. 4 letter with the commission saying that AES would drop the RBEP if the ballot initiative is approved. It said the best idea now would be for the commission to suspend this proceeding until after the March 2015 citizen vote on the new site alternative.

Project developer AES Southland Development LLC told the commission on Aug. 1 that it is pursuing the ballot initiative to meet the concerns of the city. “In and of itself, the proposed initiative measure should have no impact on the processing of the AFC,” the company argued. “The initiative process is a local land use process separate from the Commission’s certification proceedings under the Warren Alquist Act. Just as the March 5, 2013 municipal election vote on a proposed initiative to rezone the land use designation of the RBEP site and the proposed local moratorium on power plants within the coastal zone did not impact the processing of the AFC, the proposed initiative would not as a matter of law impact the processing of the AFC.”

AES added: “Based on the facts as they are today, the Applicant remains committed to permitting the Redondo Beach Energy Project, but welcomes the opportunity to discuss with the Committee and the parties the factors that would affect a decision by the Applicant to seek a suspension of the proceeding.”

In November 2012, AES Southland submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to the commission for the RBEP, located at 1100 North Harbor Drive in the City of Redondo Beach, Los Angeles County. The RBEP is a proposed natural-gas fired, combined-cycle, air-cooled facility with a net generating capacity of 496 MW, which will replace, and be constructed on the site of the AES Redondo Beach Generating Station.

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.