As California struggles to meet electricity needs in its clean energy transition, regulators on Tuesday, October 19, approved another expansion to keep the aging Redondo Beach gas-fired power plant running until 2023.
The decision was met with disappointment and disappointment by the townspeople and councilors, who are keen to end the intermittent air pollution they attribute to the AES-run plant and replace it with a park and restore wetlands. A state grant of $ 4.8 million for the acquisition and improvement of land has been withdrawn due to delays in the closure of the plant.
“You have to send a message right here today that there will be no more expansions, that this will be the last expansion,” Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand told the State Water Control Board before he unanimously voted Tuesday to grant the final approval. the plant needs to remain open for another two years.
Chairman of the Board of Directors Joaquin Esquivel declined to provide any such guarantees, saying he cannot predict future circumstances and cannot talk about future regulatory actions.
“Obviously, this decision is not easy,” said Esquivel. “(But) we have to consider the needs of the entire state.”
With the exception of the Los Angeles power and water utility, all of the state’s ocean-cooled gas generators were scheduled to shut down at the end of 2020. absorbed into the plant.
But after massive power outages last August, energy analysts predicted future supply shortages as a result of heat waves caused by climate change and the relatively slow pace of clean energy development. Therefore, last year, regulators approved life extensions for old generators in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Oxnard until 2023, as well as in Redondo Beach until 2021.
The extension to 2023 was approved with little or no opposition from the local population. Plants in Huntington Beach and Long Beach have built more efficient air-cooled replaceable generators and operate both old and new units, with most residents apparently resigned to the current operations. Oxnard supported the expansion because of the revenue it would bring to the city.
But in Redondo Beach, the plant is located in a densely urbanized area, and the city is looking to move away from industrial use. Residents and city councilors, addressing the board on Tuesday, as well as two councilors from nearby Hermos Beach, highlighted concerns about the plant’s air pollution.
“Please show us that you value the lives of those most affected by this inefficient power plant,” asked Hermosa Beach City Councilor Stacy Armato.
While the state is switching to clean energy, most of the energy comes from solar and wind power, which disappears in the evening. During the period from August to early October, when high temperatures and the use of air conditioners place the highest demands on the electricity grid, energy reserves may run out in the evening. That’s when old power generators will be needed.
Temperatures in the region are rising due to climate change, MP Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Torrance, noted in a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
“I find it extremely ironic that we are trying to cope with climate change by continuing to operate these plants that are contributing to climate change,” said Muratsuchi, who represents Redondo Beach and opposes plant life extensions.
Also on the side of the opponents were the Sierra Club, Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation. The expansion was supported by union representatives, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Carson Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Coastal Chamber of Commerce.
The ire of opponents was boosted by a voluntary offer from AES, the plant operator, to donate $ 1.5 million to help conserve the Cerritos Wetlands along the Los Angeles-Orange County Line and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach. Critics appear to have called in vain to spend money on projects in and around Redondo Beach.
Five members of the water council said they don’t like extending the life of the plants. Board member Sean Maguire noted that the Diablo nuclear power plant is slated to close in 2024 and feared the plant’s closure would put more pressure on energy supplies.
“I’m worried about throwing the tin can out of the way,” he said. “I don’t want to be here in a year and go through this again. I want to make sure it is successful. “