City of Redondo Beach has questions about current AES plans for repowering project

The city of Redondo Beach told the California Energy Commission on April 9 that a unit of AES Corp. (NYSE: AES) needs to provide more details about possible energy storage and desalination aspects of its Redondo Beach repowering project before the commission resumes its review of the project.

The Redondo Beach Energy Project (RBEP) certification proceeding has been suspended since August 2014 due to an AES request. On March 20, AES submitted a letter to the commission committee assigned to the proceeding, asking the committee to resume the proceeding following the failure of a ballot intiative (called “Measure B”) that would have designated an alternate use for this prime oceanfront property. The committee was due to hold an April 10 status conference to look at how and whether to resume its review of the application.

Said the city in its April 9 filing: “New information has come to light that must be addressed before the RBEP proceeding can be resumed. In recent weeks, AES has made statements to the press and public about its plans for the RBEP site. AES has said that it is giving serious consideration to adding a significant energy storage facility to the proposed power plant. Before the proceeding is resumed, the Committee should investigate these statements. If AES intends to substantially modify the RBEP proposal to include an energy storage facility, it should be required to amend and resubmit the [application for certification].

“Likewise, AES has stated that it is giving serious consideration to building a desalination facility at the RBEP site. Again, the Committee should investigate these statements. If AES intends to build a desalination facility at the site alongside the proposed power plant, it should be required to amend and resubmit the AFC. If AES is considering building a desalination facility instead of the RBEP facility, it should not waste the Commission’s time and resources—as well as those of the intervenors and interested parties—by seeking approval of a project that it does not intend to build.

“Finally, during the campaign for Measure B, AES made numerous statements conceding that the RBEP is not needed to meet the region’s electrical needs, and describing the benefits of eliminating the power plant. These are, in essence, new admissions in support of the ‘no project’ alternative. Before the AFC proceeding is resumed, the [Preliminary Staff Assessment] should be amended to incorporate these statements in the staff analysis of the no project alternative. The Committee should address these matters before issuing a new schedule for the RBEP proceeding.

“After voluntarily suspending the AFC proceeding for nearly eight months, AES is suddenly proposing a very aggressive schedule. They propose holding the PSA workshop in 12 days (April 22) and requiring the parties to submit comments on the PSA in 22 days (May 1). This is patently unfair. As the Committee is well aware, AES’ proposal is very controversial and raises many complex issues. Eight months ago, the intervenors and interested parties had assembled teams of experts to review and prepare comments on the AES proposal and the PSA. These teams have been disbanded. They must now be reassembled, and the parties must be given adequate time to participate meaningfully in the proceeding.

“In light of these circumstances, the City of Redondo Beach (‘City’) respectfully asks the Committee to schedule the PSA conference at least 60 days after this Status Conference. This will give all of the parties adequate time to prepare. The City further requests that the deadline for comments on the PSA be at least 30 days after completion of the PSA workshop.”

In November 2012, the AES Southland LLC unit of AES Corp. submitted an AFC to construct and operate the RBEP project, which would be located entirely within the footprint of the existing AES Redondo Beach Generating Station, an operating power plant. Energy Commission staff published the Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA) in July 2014. Shortly before the PSA was published, the committee learned that AES had submitted an initiative petition to the city of Redondo Beach. The initiative sought the approval of the electorate for a land use plan for the RBEP site as a mixed-use development of 600 new residences, 250 hotel rooms, and 85,000 square feet of commercial space. On March 3, the initiative failed. AES submitted a letter on March 20 asking that work resume on the AFC and seeking a new scheduling order from the committee.

Under the AES plan, the existing AES Redondo Beach Generating Station would be retired. The RBEP is planned as a natural-gas fired, combined-cycle, air-cooled facility with a net capacity of 496 MW.

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.