Mayor asks residents help to power down AES

The Redondo Beach AES power plant, including its Wyland whale mural, is shown blowing off steam in this July 2020 photo. Photo by Kevin Cody

Lowering energy use means less need for the aging “peaker plant.”

by Garth Meyer

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand asks residents to consider cutting electric use during times of peak demand in hopes of convincing the state to close the AES power plant once and for all. 

To discontinue it, Brand and other city representatives encourage Redondo Beach residents to join OhmConnect, an Oakland-based “virtual power plant” that notifies participants of peak demand so they can cut their use.

The 1954 gas-fired operation was slated for closure in 2020, but state regulators, alarmed at grid-threatening shortages in recent summers, extended the decommission date until at least next year. 

“I want people to consider signing up” for OhmConnect, said Mayor Brand. “It’s a way to save money and help increase our use of renewable energy throughout the state and help shut down AES.”

AES is a “peaker plant” for California – on standby in times of high energy use. 

If demand spikes can be avoided, the plant may not be turned on again. 

During these periods, OhmConnect members conserve kilowatt hours by way of free devices attached to home electrical outlets.

For example, users’ refrigerators may turn off for an hour or two.

The city council in April voted unanimously to offer the program in Redondo Beach. 

Participation is free. 

Residents earn cash payments and/or prizes for kilowatt hours saved. 

Ohmconnect operates in the state’s electricity market the same way an actual power plant does, but instead of selling power, it “sells” a package of reduced consumption. 

The for-profit company has been in business for eight years, part of  a new generation of “demand response” energy organizations, a concept which originally developed in the 1970s. ER


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