October targeted for decision on revamped Huntington Beach project of AES

The committee of the California Energy Commission handling a September 2015 amendment application from AES Southland Development LLC to make changes to the Huntington Beach Energy Project issued a Jan. 14 order laying out a tentative schedule to handle the application that establishes October of this year for a final decision.

The September 2015 petition from AES Southland proposes to reduce the nominal generation capacity of the Huntington Beach Energy Project (HBEP) from 939 MW to 844 MW (644 MW generated from combined-cycle technology and 200 MW from simple-cycle technologies). The project site is in the City of Huntington Beach and is located entirely within the footprint of the existing AES Huntington Beach Generating Station, an operating power plant that would be retired as this new facility is brought on-line.

The tentative committee schedule is based on discussions between the committee, AES Southland, commission staff, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and the City of Huntington Beach. The schedule contains a list of events that must occur in order to complete the Energy Commission amendment process. The committee encouraged the parties to consider this schedule an outer boundary and make their best efforts to complete the milestones ahead of schedule. Some deadlines may be contingent upon reviews to be conducted by federal, state, and local agencies.

Commission staff indicated that they have preliminarily identified issues in the petition related to the technical areas of Air Quality and Environmental Justice as requiring further analysis. SCAQMD’s issuance of a Preliminary Determination of Compliance (PDOC) and Final Determination of Compliance (FDOC) are key to the complete analysis of the amended HBEP’s potential impacts. SCAQMD indicated the FDOC is expected within 180 days of having a complete air permit application from the petitioner. SCAQMD found the petitioner’s application to be complete on Dec. 18, 2015.

In addition to the work of SCAQMD, discussions between AES Southland and the City of Huntington Beach on several topics will also play a part in staff’s analysis. In the 2014 decision approving the prior version of the project, the analysis noted that the certified HBEP would not be consistent with the local building code as it was taller than the maximum allowed height. In approving the certified HBEP, the Energy Commission relied on a resolution from the city that found that, but for the exclusive jurisdiction of the Energy Commission, it would have granted the petitioner a variance to the height restriction and allowed HBEP to be constructed.

The tentative committee schedule includes:

  • SCAQMD issues Preliminary Determination of Compliance (PDOC) – April 1, 2016
  • Status Conference – April 19, 2016
  • Preliminary Staff Assessment published – April 22, 2016
  • Staff holds PSA Workshop no later than May 22, 2016
  • Public comment on the PSA closes – May 23, 2016
  • SCAQMD Issues Final Determination of Compliance (FDOC) – June 1, 2016
  • Staff publishes Final Staff Assessment (FSA) – June 9, 2016
  • Last day to file petition to intervene – Week of June 13, 2016
  • All Parties File Opening Testimony – Week of June 20, 2016
  • Committee files Presiding Member’s Proposed Decision (PMPD) – Late August 2016
  • Committee Conference on PMPD – Mid September 2016
  • Close of Public Comment Period on PMPD – Late September 2016
  • Energy Commission Final Decision in October 2016

The AES Southland Development unit of AES Corp. (NYSE: AES) on Oct. 27 of last year asked the Energy Commission for an expedited schedule, with a commission decision on May 11 of this year, related to its amendment request for the HBEP. So this new schedule lags several months behind the requested schedule.

The September 2015 amendment was prompted by specific needs in a power sales contract worked out with Southern California Edison following the commission approval of the original version of the project. The redesigned project would total 844 MW and be constructed in two phases.

  • Phase 1 would be a natural gas-fired, combined-cycle, air-cooled, 644-MW facility.
  • Phase 2 would be two 100-MW simple-cycle gas turbines.

The approved version of the project was licensed as a 939-MW plant consisting of two independently operating, three-on-one, combined-cycle gas turbine power blocks.

The revamped project would include in Phase 1:

  • One combined-cycle, gas turbine (CCGT), 644-MW power block consisting of two General Electric (GE) Frame 7FA.05s;
  • Two unfired heat-recovery steam generators equipped with two emission control systems to control CO, NOx and VOC emissions;
  • One steam turbine generator;
  • One air-cooled condenser (ACC) and one closed-loop air-cooled heat exchanger; and
  • One natural gas-fired auxiliary boiler to support the power block.

Phase 2 includes two GE simple-cycle LMS-100 PB combustion turbine generators with a nominal total capacity of 200 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.