Shut Down Redondo Beach AES power plant
Shut Down Redondo Beach AES power plant
In 2010, The California Water Board adopted a "Once-Through Cooling Policy" requiring coastal power plants to phase out the use of “once-through cooling” systems (which is what AES is) as they were highly damaging to the marine environment. This policy mandated the closure of the AES Power Plant by December 2020. In September 2020, despite strong opposition and multiple lawsuits filed by the Cities of Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach, the Water Board extended the operation of the AES power plant for an additional year in a stand-by capacity as an emergency power facility. The irony is that the AES power plant is so old and inefficient (it takes 12 to 24 hours to power up) that it failed to provide power during any flex alerts called in 2020 due to equipment failures and heat. Despite the AES Power Plant's failure to reliably operate as an emergency power facility, at their hearing in October, the California Water Board will likely vote to extend operations of the facility for an additional two years!
This unjustifiable, yet politically expedient decision-making needs to come to an end. Please sign our petition demanding the immediate closure of this 67-year-old relic of a plant that continues to degrade our coastline, kill marine life, pollute our air, and emit dangerous carbon into our rapidly warming world.
Several recent studies have concluded that the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) have failed to execute the steps needed to reach the State’s target of 100% clean electricity by 2045. CAISO continues to mismanage the grid (during last summer’s brownouts we were exporting electricity to Arizona) and by their own confirmation, CAISO, the PUC, and the Water Board have no viable plan currently in place for decommissioning the AES power plant even though they've had 11 years to meet their original "mandated" deadline. So, while California burns, the agencies responsible for our energy grid and the resource agencies charged with regulating them, are claiming that the only thing keeping us from brownouts and blackouts during peak power use is a highly polluting, ocean-sucking, 67-year-old antiquated power plant located adjacent to the most densely populated communities along the California Coast. Really? We must demand better!
Why do we care?
1) Public Health - The AES Power Plant poses a threat to human life. The AES facility is located immediately adjacent to the most densely populated communities along the southern California coastline (Redondo Beach is 21,000 residents per square mile, including several schools and elderly living facilities) and emits a cocktail of chemicals, including fine particulate matter, which are known to cause asthma, cancer, and other serious health impacts. In other words, this power plant could kill you - that is a true statement.
2) Significant Loss of Sea Life - AES uses ocean water via a 14'-diameter intake pipe to cool this heavy industrial process. All marine life in the vicinity of this pipe is killed through impingement or entrainment. This includes everything from microorganisms (the building blocks of any marine ecosystem) to seals (even a diver was drowned once). A study by Heal the Bay concluded that the three ocean-cooling power plants along the Santa Monica Bay recycled all the inner waters of the Bay within a six-week period. This level of devastation served as the impetus for the development of the Once-Through-Cooling Policy. Over a decade later, the El Segundo Plant is no longer operating, the Scattergood Plant was retooled to no longer use ocean water for cooling, but the AES power plant remains. To make matters worse, of all the water-cooled power plants in the State, AES is the most polluting. It is past time to shut this dinosaur down
3) Upset Conditions - The AES plant technology is outdated and the facility itself is old and derelict and has not been properly maintained as it was expected to shut down. Consequently, there are frequent "upset" conditions resulting in black plumes of smoke and the emission of loud frightening noises, which happen during "start-up conditions" (there are always calls to the police when the plant starts up). AES has received multiple violations and fines from the Air Quality Management Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Board for failing to operate the plant within permitted conditions, but neither agency has the will to hold AES's regulatory feet to the fire. Instead, the people of the South Bay and the creatures on the Pacific continue to bear the brunt of their failure to enforce due to political fealty. The Water Board is supposed to protect our coastal waters, not their careers.
4) Parkland and Wetlands - The AES facility sits on what was once the Great Salt Lake (California Historic Monument No. 373). The California Coastal Commission recently confirmed the presence of at least seven acres of active wetlands remaining at the site. Historically, this site was a stop on the Pacific Flyway and still is, but the vestige of degraded wetlands left at the site only supports a tiny fraction of the number of birds that rested and fed there a century ago. It is time to restore this site as a biological sanctuary it once was. To this end, it is important to note that the AES parcel is zoned as parkland with only conditional use as a utility. In 2019, the City of Redondo Beach negotiated a deal with the new owner of the plant to purchase 25 acres of this site for parkland. State agencies awarded the City of Redondo Beach almost $7 million in grants to begin planning and acquisition of the site and the Board of Supervisors for the County of Los Angeles voted unanimously to make this area an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD). The EIFD was a huge win for the City as it would redirect tens of millions of property tax dollars toward restoration of the site as wetlands and public park space. The one-year extension in the operation of the AES Plant (which funneled tens of millions of dollars into the new owner and AES' pockets), resulted in the loss of the grant money and the land deal. Years of political and regulatory failures and massive lobbying by AES took our park away. We must fight to get it back!
5) It's An Eyesore - The ongoing presence of this massive hulk of industry in the middle of our fair City hurts tourism and impacts our property values, our health, and our quality of life. If we are successful in shutting down this plant for good, the Southern California Edison power lines will also come down and large areas, including under the power lines will become open space (perhaps bike paths from inland to the beach?). This site does not need to become condominiums! As Redondo Beach Mayor Brand declares: "The site will be a park with some development, not a development with some park." Thanks to Measure DD, any land use changes at the site will be subject to a public vote. As stated earlier, it's zoned as a park - this gives us a lot of power in determining what ultimately happens at the site. Dream Big, but first, we must chase these polluters out of town.
The only thing that will move us forward to a cleaner California and a more beautiful and healthier South Bay is to bombard the Water Board with an avalanche of opposition. Even though they've been holding a kangaroo court to date, we need to at least embarrass them, let them know we are paying attention. We must raise our voices to a loud cacophony of NO MORE POWER PLANT! It is the only way that the State and the power industry will know we mean business.
SBPC urges our members and other concerned citizens and non-profits agencies to:
SIGN THIS PETITION to let them know it's time to shut down and decommission the Redondo Beach AES power plant for good! The SBPC will share your voices with the Water Board during non-agenda items at all scheduled Water Board meetings between now and the October 19th hearing to extend the plant.
You can also write, email, phone at any time and/or testify to the Water Board during non-agenda items during the meetings leading up to the October hearing and of course, at the October hearing (although the decision will be in the bag by then, we need to act now!). Please contact any non-profit or advocacy group known to you that may be interested in joining us in this cause.
Thank you for your advocacy!!