Sandbox: Extending life of Redondo power plant not the solution
AES Redondo is not the solution
by Jim Light
The Redondo Beach power plant is the least efficient and most polluting of California’s remaining ocean water cooled power plants. It is the only one with high density residential and recreational uses on all four sides. It is the only one that sucks in water from an endangered Giant Sea Bass breeding ground. It is the only one with a slope immediately behind it that puts the residential neighborhoods directly in the path of polluting, unhealthy exhaust. It is the only one whose operation is opposed by two cities, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach..
During the power outages last year, during a 1-in-30 year heatwave, the Redondo power plant could not produce full power because, ironically, of the heat. The grid was mismanaged last year. They allowed plants to be offline for planned maintenance — even with the predictions of the heatwave. They accidentally told one plant to drop output early. They allowed plants to export power. And there was a transmission issue that has since been fixed. The power outages could have been averted without AES Redondo.
Yet with all this mismanagement, the vast majority of California power customers suffered absolutely no outage. In most of the areas that did experience outages, the power was out for less than 20 minutes. The worst cases, a very small minority, resulted in outages that were less than two hours. My power was down this year for six hours for a planned maintenance, and power was out unexpectedly for 30 minutes due to a car accident — far longer than the outages experienced by a minority during the 1-in-30 year heat wave last year. Florida power customers experience far more frequent outages due to lightning. It is not like the outages were crippling. Small, short outages after the sun sets are hardly a life changing event. It is at most an inconvenience.
Since last summer, almost 2,000 MW of new power generation at Alamitos and Huntington, our part of the power grid, have been put online. These new plants can be online in minutes. AES Redondo takes 12 to 24 hours to come up to speed. And how likely is it we experience another 1-in-30 year heatwave again?
At the 15 percent margin they have used for decades, Redondo is not needed. At the 17.5 percent margin they magically pulled out of a hat, Redondo won’t meet the need. So for the slim, slim, slim risk that we will experience another 1-in-30 year heatwave again and the risk that Redondo might avert some 20 minute outages in some SCE areas, rate payers will have to cover tens of millions of dollars of payments to AES Redondo; Redondo and Hermosa will be subjected to the blight and pollution of the most inefficient, most polluting plant still running; and millions of larval marine life including the endangered Giant Sea Bass will be executed.
The Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intakes Structures (SACCWIS) members are members of the power agencies. And those agencies are staffed by former executives from the power industry. It is the fox in the henhouse. It is no surprise they cooked up a scheme to throw AES tens of millions of dollars by claiming the Redondo plant is needed. This smells as bad as the ENRON debacle. And Newsom is running scared with the recall, so he won’t force reason and balance in this decision. California is run by big money. And big money is self-feeding. ER
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