AES sues California Coastal Commission related to Redondo Beach repower project

The California Coastal Commission on Sept. 14 filed with the California Energy Commission a copy of a Sept. 8 lawsuit filed against the Coastal Commission by AES Southland Development LLC and AES Redondo Beach LLC.

The Sept. 14 filing was made in an ongoing Energy Commission review of a repowering project for the Redondo Beach power plant.

The AES companies, which are subsidiaries of AES Corp. (NYSE: AES), lodged this Sept. 8 action at the Los Angeles County Superior Court to compel the Coastal Commission to follow the law. AES Redondo Beach owns and operates the Redondo Beach Generating Station, a site that has been used to provide electricity to the residents of the City of Redondo Beach and Southern California for over a century.

The AES companies said the Coastal Commission has violated the law by exceeding its statutory authority and attempting to classify 5.93 acres of the Redondo Beach Generating Station site as commission-jurisdictional wetlands. The area identified by the commission as “jurisdictional wetlands” includes four concrete-lined retention basins (that held oil tanks until as recently as 2006) and a constructed pit (collectively called the “Retention Basins”).

The 5.93 acres of long-developed industrial land the commission claims to be “jurisdictional wetlands” do not demonstrate natural wetland conditions, the AES companies said. Instead, the features of this area that the commission claims support its determination, including the occasional presence of water, are the result of artificially induced hydrological conditions created at least in part by a long-running injection well project operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LACDPW) to prevent seawater intrusion into the groundwater aquifer. These conditions in no way support a determination that the site contains jurisdictional wetlands under the California Coastal Act’s definition of the term, the companies said.

At a July 8 meeting, the commission approved this wetlands determination as part of a report commenting on AES’ proposed Redondo Beach Energy Project, a new natural-gas fired combined-cycle plant that would replace the Redondo Beach Generating Station. “AES is informed and believes that the Commission took its unlawful action because it believes that a wetlands finding could potentially stop the Project, which is now pending before the Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, also known as the California Energy Commission (‘CEC’),” said the lawsuit. “However, the Commission had no authority to determine that the 5.93 acres are jurisdictional wetlands. Its alleged ‘decision’ failed to comply with the law and is not supported by substantial evidence.”

The proposed project is to replace the four older, less efficient electric utility boiler generator Units 5, 6, 7 and 8 (with a combined capacity of 1,310 MW), and which have been in operation since the 1950s and 1960s, with a new, more efficient facility. The new system will consist of three natural gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine generators and a steam turbine generator, with a combined capacity of 546 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.