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Power Plant FAQ’s

On November 8th, BBR and NoPowerPlant.com organized a forum for residents to ask a Legal Panel of three land-use and environmental law attorneys questions about the legalities of the Power Plant Phase-Out Initiative.  While the questions and answers are in the FAQ’s below, you can view the actual video footage at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/NoPowerPlantRB?feature=watch

1. Don’t we need the power from the power plant?

AES Redondo annual capacity run rates demonstrate it is no longer critical to the power grid in our area. Of note is the 2012 low run rate with the San Onofre Nuclear Plant offline and our biggest heatwayves in years.

No.  According to a 2008 report released by the California Energy Commission, Redondo’s plant produced less than 5% of its capacity – it was only used sporadically to augment other power plants.  The same report shows that the plant produced less than 1/10th of 1 % of our power in 2008.   CEC data through  2012 further demonstrates the AES Redondo Plant is not critical.  In 2012 with San Onofre offline and our biggest heatwaves in years, AES Redondo ran at a paltry 4.82% of capacity. 

Actually even this number is artifically inflated due to the old technology of the current plant.  These run times include ramp up time, ramp down time, maintenance runs, and time when the plant stays online when it is not needed.  The current power plant takes over 24 hours to ramp up and down when called up.  Newer plants take minutes.  So when AES Redondo gets called up it is not taken offline after each day’s peak load because it would take too long to ramp back up for the next day.  So these run times are actually dramatically inflated the plant’s dated technology and inefficiency… this is why AES’ threat to keep running this plant is not credable – it is not competitve with new plants coming online this year.

Many people believe that the Redondo Beach power plant connects directly into the power lines that feed Redondo.  That is not the case.  The power lines from AES go to the 405 and from there AES Redondo power is distributed to the grid.

CAISO 2015 projection of power generation versus needs shows power from AES Redondo is not needed

A 2010 report by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) projects the needs and generation capacity for our area in 2015.  This projection is shown in the table above.  What this table means is that if you subtract out the Redondo power plant capacity, the generation capabilities exceed the projected needs by 26%.  Let me repeat that – there is 26% excess power generation capacity for our area in 2015 without the AES power plant in Redondo.

Since the power crisis in the early 2000′s, the state has added over  40% in new power capacity.  A 2010 report by the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Public Utilities Commission(CPUC), the California Independent System Operator(CAISO), and the Air Resources Board reviewed power plants required for grid reliability.  Power plants in El Segundo and Huntington Beach were called out as required.  Redondo’s plant was not on the list of required power plants. This study shows that significant new sources of power have been added to the grid, making plants like AES unnecessary.  (http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/aes-related-reports/)  And we are still adding more.  Three new power plants are coming online in our area of the grid by the summer of 2013 that will add an additional 1,800 MW of power generation.  

Table from CEC New Power Generation Fact Sheet, August 2011, shows 40% power generation capacity added since power crisis.

Remember in 2002, AES proposed and supported rezoning their property for high density condo zoning.  That was the “heart” of the Heart of the City plan that was defeated by residents.

In August 2011 the California Energy Commission released its report on energy demand forecast through 2022 (see AES Related Reports page).  This report contradicts claims by AES that their Redondo plant is critical due to future electric vehicle charging requirements.  This report shows that the energy saved by more efficient appliances and buildings and energy added to the grid by residential solar systems will dwarf any increased demand required to charge electric vehicles.

On December 8, 2011, the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO) presented its power needs projections through 2021 (see the AES Related Reports page).  The State Coastal Commission funded an independent power expert to determine if power from AES Redondo is required.  The independent consultant agreed with BBR conclusions:

  • Power from the AES Redondo power plant is not required based on demand projections
  • Power from AES Redondo is not required for “intermittant renewable energy integration”

In February 2012, the CPUC released their decision on letting new long term power contracts.  In that decision their assessment is that there is excess capacity in current and approved generation capabilities for as far as they evaluate:

“The record clearly supports a conclusion that no new generation is needed by 2020, and the record does not clearly support a conclusion that new generation is needed even after 2020.”

In June 2012, the CAISO released an update on a study of our area of the power grid.  The study evaluates the future need for old, “Once-Through-Cooling” power plants, like Redondo’s out through 2021.  The report concludes that there would be  “acceptable system performance… with a minimum level of OTC required.”  This means that we can retire the Redondo plant without impacting the power grid for our area.  The report furthermore evaluated which plants would be more critical to grid reliability.  It declares that  the “most effective Once-Through-Cooling generation: Alamitos and Huntington Beach.”  Again, our Redondo plant was not deemed critical.

August 2012 CAISO analysis of impact of San Onofre outage through 2013 shows reduction in power needs for Western LA Basin and excess generation capacity.

 

In August 2012, the CAISO updated their analysis for 2013 assuming that San Onofre would be offline through 2013.  This study corrected projections for power needs in the Western LA Basin DOWN by nearly 1,000MW showing how conservative their projections of less than one year ago really were.   Even with San Onofre offline there is enough excess capacity in the Western LA Basin to retire AES Redondo.

A February 2013 decision issued by the CPUC examines specifically what new power generation would be authorized to replace ocean water cooled plants in the LA Basin.  The draft decision would mandate a minimum of 1,000MW with a cap of 1200 MW of new natural gas power procurement.  If AES rebuilds Huntington and Alamitos plants, which have both been deemed critical (where Redondo is not), those two plants will be more than double the maximum amount allowed by this decision.  Once again, AES Redondo is not needed.

Interestingly enough, AES challenged the CPUC decision saying their analysis shows the LA Basin needs to replace 2300MW of effective power.  AES Huntington and Alamitos have been deemed the most effective sites to meet grid reliability requirements.  And if AES rebuilds both those sites, there is still 500MW of excess capacity.  AES’ own analysis shows AES Redondo is not needed.

State report after state report demonstrates our area of the grid will remain reliable without the AES Redondo plant.

2. Won’t we have to pay to tear down the plant and clean up the contamination?

No.  AES is obligated by federal law to remediate all contamination on their site.  AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft testified to City Council that  that revenue from the salvage of equipment and metal would cover the cost of tear down and remediation.  He also stated he did not see a situation where AES would walk away and abandon the power plant.  With good reason, State and Local laws prohibit AES from abandoning their property.  A panel of three, independent, unpaid land use and environmental attorney’s agreed in a public question and answer forum.  The video of this forum is at www.nopowerplant.com.

3. Isn’t it AES’s property? Is rezoning their property legal?

Yes.   We have opinions from four land use attorney’s who state this is legal and is not a “taking”.  And a growing number of local attorneys support Measure A and scoff at the legal fearmongering of AES and the residents it pays and has coopted. Also note that the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis does not conclude Measure A’s rezoning is illegal.

We are not proposing taking AES’ property away.  Measure A merely rezones the power plant site based on the welfare and health impacts of the power plant on the coummunity and we would allow AES to get economic value out of their property.  This has been done by the City regularly.  The 1992 General Plan downzoned thousands of properties throughout Redondo.   This included downzoning residential density on many properties and converting commercial zoning to residential zoning The City has done similar rezoning in the past.

A 2004 City Staff report (http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/aes-related-reports/) laid out a plan to rezone the AES property for non-industrial uses, phasing out the power plant over time.  This would give AES the time to finish out their current contract, which expires in 2018.  We are only proposing implementing what the City Staff had recommended in 2004.

Measure A zoning allows AES to finish their current power contract.  It then allows them to generate revenue from selling or leasing up to 40% of their property for commercial and institutional (university, museum, etc) development and uses.  AES could also be paid for the 60% – 70% of the property that would be set aside for public parks and open space, if AES wants to sell it.  AES will get their investment out of their property.

Remember, in 2002 AES supported conversion of their property to high density condo zoning.  This was during the peak of our energy crisis.  They are advertising mixed use for the rest of their property once the new plant is built. 

4.  Isn’t this eminent domain or a “taking”?

No.  Measure A merely rezones the property.  It allows AES to retain or sell what portions of its land  that it wants.   We have assessment from four prominent land use attorneys in addition to the City’s 2004 report  detailing how to rezone the power plant.   (http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/aes-related-reports/)  Note also that the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure A does not conclude that Measure A represents a taking or eminent domain.

 In laymen’s terms the zoning change must be based on health and welfare of the community and it cannot eliminate all economic value for the property owner.  

The City and County documented the impact of the power plant on the community in 2004.  They found the power plant was incompatible with surrounding uses, negatively impacted economic values of businesses and residential property, and had detrimental health and environmental impacts on those living in proximity to the power plant.  The City called it “the major blighting influence” in the harbor area and the County deemed the area blighted.  So we have a strong case on the first requirement – that the rezoning must be based on the welfare of the community.

Nobody in their right mind would approve a new power plant at this location. This picture shows just how tightly the property is surrounded by incompatible uses on all sides.

The rezoning cannot take away all economic value.   Our proposed rezoning would phase out the power plant use and allow AES to fulfill their current power contract.  Our proposed zoning would allow AES economic value in both the commercial zoning and the public land zoning.

Several opponents have stated that AES has the right to rebuild a power plant.  That is not true.  No company has the “right” to pollute and blight the surrounding community. 

First, even under current zoning, power generation is a “conditional” use not a “permitted” use.  This means the City can deny a request to rebuild the power plant based on a number of factors including safety, health, welfare and other impacts to surrounding properties.  For example, Mayor Gin vetoed a mixed-use project called “Pearl Plaza” because it was out of character with the surrounding neighborhood.  So AES has no “right” to build a new plant based on its zoning.  Second, AES cannot build a power plant without CEC and SCAQMD approval.  Again, this refutes those making the “property rights” argument.  AES may be “permitted” to impact us at the discretion of the City and State authorities, but they do not have the “right” to impact us.

If Measure A passes, the CEC is required to assess whether the power plant is required at a specific site.  This is corraborated by the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure A [see AES Related Reports Page].  And we know from CAISO testimony to our City Council there is enough excess capacity to retire one old ocean water cooled power plant in our part of the grid.  In fact, recent analyses for the summer of 2013 without San Onofre show that two other AES plants ARE critical to the grid – Alamitos and Huntington.  Alamitos represents the most critical contincy outage.  And recetnly the CAISO and FERC have declared Huntington a “Reliability- Must Run” power plant.  AES Redondo is not critical.  Of the three plants it has the lowest “effectiveness” rating to address the likely contingencies that would cause power outage.  AES has indicated it intends to rebuild Huntington and Alamitos at their maximum current capacity.

If  Measure A forces the CEC to deny AES’ application, Measure A’s zoning provides AES more value for their property than current zoning.  Measure A is fair.  In fact Measure A affords AES the same commercial density as is allowed in the harbor.

5.  What is the initiative zoning?

A mix of parkland and commercial/institutional uses.

The initiative eliminates all industrial uses on the site.  It allows the power plant to operate until December 31, 2020 and requires the plant to be torn down by December 31, 2022.  The initiative eliminates the switch yards, but the final removal is open ended.  Some residents would like to repurpose parts of the plant, like the whaling wall.  The initiative allows reuse of up to 30% of the current structure if a majority of the voters approve the reuse.

Initiative replaces power plant zoning with “Coastal Preserve” zoning which phases out the power plant and requires tear down by 2022.

The initiative establishes “Coastal Preserve” zoning on the power plant site.  Coastal Preserve requires at least 60% park and a maximum of 40% commercial/institutional development under certain conditions.

The commercial/institutional portion of the zoning allows retail, restaurant, hotel, offices, parking lots, institutional uses, and marine related uses including light industrial marine development.  This portion of the zoning allows up to 30% of the land to commercial/industrial uses, however there are incentives for hotel, office and institutional uses that would add an additional 10% of the land (a maximum of 40%) to encourage these uses.  The height limit is two stories except for hotel, institutional and office uses, which can be three stories.  There are defined development caps.  The zoning requires public open space in the commercial portion.  These elements control the density and massing of the development.  Parking for the commercial development must be provided out of the commercial portion.  In several other developments the city has allowed parking for commercial development to encroach on parks…this zoning prevents that for this area.

The public park portion of the property allows conservation areas, wetlands restoration, recreational and sports fields and uses, jogging and biking paths, and related facilities.

The Coastal Preserve zoning protects view corridors along what is the north and south side of the property.  It also defines  a minimum20% view corridor requirement throughout the developed portions of the site. This prevents a wall of development from blocking harbor views through the site.

The zoning also requires an extension of the Greenbelt to Harbor Drive and to the south end of the property to Catalina Avenue.  It also sets aside a right of way for bikepath reconfiguration along Harbor Drive.

The 30% commercial/institutional uses would allow parking relief for the harbor area, extension of the commercial uses in the harbor creating a more walkable and better integrated environment for residents and visitors, and generate revenue for the city to more than pay for the maintenance of the park.  The commercial component would allow AES significant economic value for its property – whether they sold or leased it.   The institutional component would allow educational uses like a marine science extension of a local university or a museum that shows the history of Redondo including our City’s role in surfing, SCUBA diving, aerospace innovation, and our role as the first port of Los Angeles, or an art museum.

According to a briefing by the Studio 606 team, commissioned by the State Coastal Conservancy to study parkland in the South Bay, a 70% parkland/30% commercial uses is the average mix they see in successful new parkland projects where parks are created from former industrial sites.

Here is one vision for the AES site from that study:

State study depicts one vision of the AES power plant area with mix of commercial uses and parkland.

6.  Isn’t this “spot zoning”?

No.  The zoning in the initiative is based on the uses and densities allowed in the harbor right across the street.  The new zoning makes the site more compatible with the zoning on all sides of the property.  And it is difficult to paint the rezoning of four parcels covering 50 acres as “spot zoning” .  The initiative is not “spot zoning”.

7. Why is the zoning so long and complicated?

In order to be legal all zoning reads pretty complicated and has some very specific terms.  Our initative had to cover changes to the General Plan, Local Coastal Plan, Harbor Specific Plan, the Coastal Zoning ordinance, and the City Charter in order to be legal … these documents cannot be in conflict with one another.  Plus in the initiative we had to show the current text and the proposed text.  All that adds up to lots of pages.  It’s not that our zoning is over complicated.

The City actually had more pages for Measure G rezoning of the pier and harbor.  The actual zoning for Measure A is less than 30 pages.  The zoning for Measure G was 89 pages.

8. Why does the zoning impose “in lieu of fees” for a hotel?

It is a requirement of the Coastal Commission.  We met with the Coastal Commission staff prior to finalizing our zoning.  They require that hotel rooms meet a certain affordability requirements or pay “in lieu of fees” if the hotel cannot meet these affordable prices.  While our opponents have tried to paint this as an unreasonable requirement, these same opponents supported Measure G.  The Coastal Commission required this exact same wording in Measure G.  So the cries of our opponents are disingenuous.

9. Why doesn’t the initiative have to go through environmental review?

The California Constitution reserves the right of voters to enact zoning through initiative.  The courts have determined that requiring an environmental review would be too costly and would in essence impede the right of the voters to do zoning by initiative.  Therefore, they have ruled against any attempts at making voters perform an environmental review when they sponsor an initiative.  Any project resulting from the rezoning will have to undergo normal environmental review processes.

10. What about the power lines?

An independent power expert hired by the State Coastal Conservancy stated that there is one grid interconnection at the AES substation that would continue to conduct power even if the power plant is retired.  However, the consultant stated that this interconnection could be moved to a substation near the 405 at minimal cost.  SCE’s president responded to a request from State Senator Ted Lieu stating that the CAISO is resposnible for determining  power transmission flows.  While we may be able to get rid of the high tension lines, the smaller, lower power, local distribution lines that use the right of way would continue to be needed for local power transmission.

One thing is for sure, if we allow the new power plant, the lines will have to stay for the next 50 years.

11. If the power lines go away won’t we get condos down 190th?

NO!  Only if residents approve the zoning change.  Article XXVII of the City Charter (formerly Measure DD) requires a vote of the residents should the city propose condo zoning for the powerline right of way.

12.  AES says their new plant will be mostly hidden from view.  Is that true?

AES submission to CEC disproves their statement that the plant would be "hidden from most views".

There is no way to hide a power plant on this small site. The “Whaling Wall” is 87 feet high.  AES says their new plant will be  80 feet tall.  Walk or drive around the power plant site and see if you think you can hide something that tall on the AES property.  The honest answer is you cannot.  This has been validated by AES’ submission to the CEC as shown in picture above.

AES’ submission to the CEC shows some cleverly picked angles that hide the true impact on views.  An 80 foot tall power plant will continue to block harbor views from Catalina Ave and view points up the hill from the plant.  AES is being deceptive.

You cannot hide an 80 foot tall power plant on this property. Dont be mislead by power plant proponent depictions from very well chosen angles.

13. What is the schedule, don’t we have lots of time?

NO!  AES has already submitted their application for a new power plant as of November 2012.  The CEC estimates their decision will be made by December 2013.  AES shows groundbreaking in 2015.

14. How long will it take to build the new power plant?

NRG El Segundo during demolition.

Five years!

In November, 2011,  AES  told city council they can build in as little as 24 months.  Of course they

New NRG El Segundo plant under construction

separated out demolition time and did not committed to a schedule for demolition.

We were skeptical of their new claims. And once again, we were proven correct.  AES’ submission to the CEC now shows a five year construction period.

New NRG El Segundo plant under construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  15. Won’t the new plant run cleaner?

Maybe, but with higher run times it will actually produce more pollution and it would remain Redondo’s largest single generator of air pollution.  The new plant may run cleaner, but to make it economically viable, we suspect AES will have to run at much more than the 5% capacity it currently runs at.  Several recent power plant applications for new plants cite a run rate around 60%.  In their November 2011 presentation to the City Council AES was all over the map citing rates that ranged from 15.8% to 30%.  Based on the other recent power plant applications and AES’ waffling on the amount, we are skeptical that it is economically viable to invest$630M for a plant that will run at between 15.8% and 30% of the time.

WE WERE RIGHT AGAIN!  In a May 1, 2012 update sent to the City Council, AES admitted they plan to submit for a permit to run at 76% annual capacity and stated they intend to run the plant between 25% and 42% of annual capacity. 

Regardless of run rate, remember, AES can only build this plant with  exemptions from air pollution requirements, as stated in their implementation plan:

“The key assumptions for AES SL’s ….repowering program…include the following: 

Reliance on the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1304(a)(2) to comply with all necessary requirements for emission reduction credits for the repowered units….  The potential cost of emission offsets…would render the repowering program commercially infeasible.”

At their briefing to the City Council AES vehemently denied that they need an air pollution exemption, but Rule 1304 is in fact an exemption

Here is the text of SCAQMD Rule 1304(a)(2):

“RULE 1304. EXEMPTIONS

(a) Modeling and Offset Exemptions
Upon approval by the Executive Officer or designee, an exemption from the modeling requirement of Rule 1303 (b)(1) and the offset requirement of Rule 1303 (b)(2) shall be allowed, for the following sources:…

(2)  Electric Utility Steam Boiler Replacement

The source is replacement of electric utility steam boiler(s) with combined cycle gas turbine(s), intercooled, chemically-recuperated gas turbines, other advanced gas turbine(s); solar, geothermal, or wind energy or other equipment, to the extent that such equipment will allow compliance with Rule 1135 or Regulation XX rules. The new equipment must have a maximum electrical power rating (in megawatts) that does not allow basinwide electricity generating capacity on a per-utility basis to increase. If there is an increase in basin-wide capacity, only the increased capacity must be offset. “

Although AES claims they do not need an air pollution exemption to repower, clearly Rule 1304 is just that: an exemption for air pollution.  It means AES does not have to pay for pollution credits as any other business would be forced to do that pollutes as much as AES.

Despite its current  limited run times of about 5% of capacity, our current plant is number 98 of the top 100 greenhouse gas polluters in California.  Any new plant would most likely run more and move up the list.  Several newer power plants are ranked higher than our power plant – despite their more efficient and cleaner plants, they run more and produce more pollution.

California Watch lists AES Redondo as a top polluter despite its limited run times.

A March 2011 report, “Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Ozone Pollution” published by Environment America’s Research and Policy Center, shows AES Redondo as the number 6 NOx polluter in California in 2009, despite its low 5% run capacity.

AES application to the CEC shows substantial increase in harmful pollutants.

Based on the environmental documents filed by AES for their new power plant in Redondo Beach , we have projected the amount of pollutants based on th potential run rates.   As stated previously, AES has been all over the map on the new power plant run rate.  So we have generated a table of the pollution at each of the potential annual capacity rates cited in AES’ project update to Redondo Beach City Council for comparison.

AES’  brand new  combined cycle natural gaspower plant, running at just 25% capacity produces  17.1 tons of annual particulate  pollution (PM2.5)!

If the plant runs at 73%, which is application limit annual particulate pollution jumps to  49.7 tons per year.

AES application to the CEC shows that hazardous particulate pollution will increase between 5x and 15x current levels becasue the new plant will run more.

The 2007 to 2011 annual average particulate emissions AES reported to the SCAQMD is 3.3 tons.  Compared to the air pollution AES reports today, particulate pollution increases by 500% to 1500% at their projected run rates.   And that particulate pollution will be emitted from smokestacks that are much closer to the ground.

AES’ application also shows that current ambient air does not meet State and Federal standards for particulate pollution exposure.  And, of course, it shows adding the power plant makes that worse.

So what?  What does particulate matter do other than coat everything with black greasy dust?

From the EPA:

“Particle exposure can lead to a variety of health effects. For example, numerous studies link particle levels to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits and even to death from heart or lung diseases. Both long- and short-term particle exposures have been linked to health problems.
 
 Long-term exposures, such as those experienced by people living for many years in areas with high particle levels, have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis and even premature death.”

Also according to EPA about 1 in 3 people are sensitive to particulate pollution.  At risk people include the very young, the elderly, those with asthma and other breathing/lung problems, and those that are physically active outdoors.  Recent studies demonstrate that lowering exposure to particulate matter results in a decrease in mortality rate.  Another eye-opener, recent studies show that acheiving the minimum federal and state standards on particulate pollution do not mean the levels are “safe”.  Even these levels of exposure impact the development of asthma, cardio-pulmonary problems and an increased mortality rate.

AES plume from Redondo Union High School

Children are especially susceptible to the impacts of particulate and other air pollutants.  A California Air Resources Board study, tracking kids from elemetary school through high school showed decreased lung development for children in areas with higher air pollution.  Kids who moved to cleaner areas saw some return of lung development and function.  Outdoor athletes were the most susceptible.  See:  http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/files/2011/05/Childrens-Health-Study-fact.pdf

Even more recently Harvard released a study showing that minor reductions in particulate pollution increase lifespan:  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2012-releases/air-pollution-improve-life-expectancy-us.html

The bottom line is, less pollution is clearly better.  And the permanent retirement of the unneeded power plant would improve our air quality, building the proposed power plant would increase it.

How’s that for “clean  and green”?

And don’t lose sight that  the details above are on just one pollutant there are others that are of equal and greater concern and some of greater volume… PM2.5, carbon monoxide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides etc.

The  ”Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Ozone Pollution” report cites a Rand study which showed that over 30,000 hospital visits between 2005 and 2007 were caused by repeated exposure to ozone.  The health care costs were estimated at over $193M.  Los Angeles -Long Beach area air was deemed “unhealthy” (28 days) or “unhealthy for sensitive groups” (43 days) nearly 20% of the year in 2008.

AES states that we are misleading the public on our air pollution statements regarding the new plant.  We have offered to correct any inaccuracies, but they have yet to define what they think is misleading. 

16. AES says the new plant’s plume won’t affect Redondo.  Is that true?

No.  According to AES’ application, the new smokestacks will be much shorter.  Shorter smokestacks means the plume will more directly impact surrounding Redondo and Hermosa neighborhoods.  But don’t believe us – here is photographic evidence from the current plant:

AES emissions being blown directly at the photographer on their rooftop deck in Redondo.

Photographic evidence of the plume from AES being blown down into Redondo neighborhoods east of the plant.

17. AES is saying their power plant generates just 1% of the air pollution.  Is that true?

Read (or listen) carefully!  What I have heard and read AES saying is the power plants in general contribute less then 1% of the air pollution across the entire LA/Orange County Basin.  That may be true, but what about the air we breath in Redondo? 

According to AQMD testimony to the City Council, Redondo’s two main sources of pollution are cars and the AES power plant.  And that is with AES running at about 5% of capacity!  The AQMD representative said mobile sources are not as bad as fixed sources like a power plant.  Of the 40,000 cars that travel on PCH on an average day, how long do they spend near the power plant?  Maybe five minutes?  The AQMD representative stated the two factors that determine human impacts are amount of pollution and proximity.  So in Redondo, power plant emissions are one of our two main sources of air pollution and it is the biggest fixed source of pollution.

It is an irrefutable fact that our air will be cleaner without a power plant than with a new power plant.

18. Power plant proponents say we should focus on traffic not the power plant. How do you respond to that?

That is a pure diversionary tactic.  AES and power plant proponents try to divert your attention by saying cars produce more pollution.

  1. Right now there is nothing we can do to instantly get 83% of Redondo workers to stop commuting to work.  We CAN stop the new power plant though.
  2. California is already forcing cars to get cleaner over time.  According to the AQMD rep who testified to the Redondo Beach City Council, the amount of pollution produced by cars has dropped dramatically and conitues to drop each year as older cars are replaced.
  3. If you own a 2005 family car, your car engine produces about 0.21 pounds of particulate pollution per year if you drive 12,000 miles.  Now let’s say you drive around the plant for about 3 miles every day on average.  That means your car would put out 0.01916 pounds of particulate pollution into the neighborhoods around AES per year.  If your car is newer, or you don’t drive around the plant that much, your engine would produce much less pollution.  Compare to AES…  AES currently reports they put out an average 3.3 tons of particulate pollution per year running at just 5%.  Their new plant would put out over 22 tons based on the AES reported size and lowest expected run capacity. That is a lot of cars to keep off the road.

Even if we stopped all PCH traffic through Redondo, we would not have the same impact as shutting down this power plant.

We can’t shut down PCH, but we CAN shut down AES Redondo.

19. Does home use of natural gas exceed the pollution from AES?

This is another diversionary tactic.  This might be true across all of LA and all home and restuarant uses.  But it is not true in Redondo.  According to a 2011 summary report from SCG to the City of Redondo Beach, AES used 5,583,436.2 Decatherms, while all residents combined used just 2,597.6 Decatherms of Natural Gas…yes… that’s over five and a half million compared to less than three thousand …..not even close…..   

SCG report to City showing AES uses 95% of all natural gas burned in Redondo.

20. Won’t the loss of the plant affect revenue to the city?

Yes, rezoning will INCREASE revenue to the city.  According to AES, AES generated $365,000 in City revenue in 2009/2010.  That is less than 4/10ths of 1 percent of total city revenues.  AES’ 50 acre waterfront property yields less city revenue square foot for square foot than any other private use. 

The pier parking lot generates over 4x the revenue that AES generates for our City.  A 2003 City study (see AES Related Reports page) showed that residential property values near the power plant were depressed by  over 30% and commercial businesses were impacted by over 40%.  The same study showed that over the same period of time harbor area business revenue grew at just 10% that of businesses elsewhere in the city.  Many studies show that properties next to parks have property values increased by over 30%.  The value of business and residential property would rise increasing tax revenues to the City.

Power plant blight has substantial impact on property values of surrounding neighborhoods.

Power plant blight in harbor area devastates retail revenues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Measure A zoning allows between 30% and 40% of the property to be commercial and institutional uses – these businesses will generate revenue for the city in their sales taxes.  Additionally, the addition of pay parking on the site for the park and harbor would add money to the city – the parking lot at the pier generates over $1.8M in revenue each year.

It is very clear, Measure A will produce more city revenues than building a new power plant.

21. What about jobs?

Rezoning will INCREASE jobs.  According to AES, they currently employ just 55 employees.  They admit a new plant will reduce the number of employees to about 21 required to run and maintain the plant.  The commercial development allowed by the new zoning would create many more jobs than the new power plant.  For comparison’s sake the average Outback Steakhouse is open for business six to eight hours per day and employs 31 to 32 people.  The City website shows Cheesecake Factory employing over 250 employees.  The 30% commercial/institutional component of our proposed zoning would increase employment opportunities in the City.

22. Won’t the City get sued if they try to rezone AES’s property?

Possibly.  But Measure A is on solid legal ground.

If AES sues the City, a judge will have to determine if the rezoning unduly harmed AES.  The rezoning has to be due to impacts to the welfare of the community and cannot unduly take value away from AES.  Our zoning would allow AES to fulfill their current power contracts.  It is based on well documented impacts cited in official city and county documents as well as pollution reports by state agencies.  And our proposed zoning allows them significant economic value in both the commercial and the public parkland zoning.  AES could sue, but we have consulted with recognized land use attorneys and we are confident the risk of losing the lawsuit would be low.  More and more local attorneys are coming out in support of Measure A.  These attorneys scoff at the legal fearmongering of AES and its coopts. 

Regardless, the mere threat of a lawsuit should not allow them to build a new power plant that will be there for another 50 years.  Plus, there is solid case law cited by City staff in the 2004 report that supports city and State authority to rezone land.  Three other cities are successfully zoning out their power plants.  Measure A is our only chance to get the CEC to deny AES application.  Don’t let yourself be bullied and intimidating from doing what is best for our town and our children for generations to come. 

Three coastal power plants have been shut down due to opposition by their cities:  Portrero, Hunter’s Point and Chula Vista.  In 2011, the City of Oxnard amended its General Plan to phase out power plants.  We should not allow a multi-billion dollar company in Virginia to initimidate us into inaction on a power plant we neither want nor need.

Recently, BBR sponsored a community question and answer period with three land use and environmnetal law attorney’s.  All three concluded we are on solid legal grounds.  They believed that if AES did sue, the Courts would throw it out for a variety of reasons.  One key reason is that the zoning does not affect AES until 2020, after their current contract expires

23.  Won’t the City face potential bankruptcy like Hermosa potentially faces due to the McPherson lawsuit?

NO!  Our opponents are fear mongering.  In the McPherson case, the oil company had a signed contract with the City to drill for oil.  The oil is there and there was a contract signed by the city – canceling the contract took away any revenue McPherson had gained rights to through the contract.   The lawsuit is about breach of contract – not rezoning.

AES has no contract with the city.  The City is changing the zoning, it is not breaking a contract with residual economic value.  AES’ current power production contract expires in 2018 and our zoning would allow AES to produce power to the end of its contract.   Our rezoning would allow AES to get economic value out of their property after the power plant is phased out through revenues from selling the land to the public and selling or leasing the portion of the property zoned commercial/institutional.

This is different than the McPherson case in that – 1) we are not breaking any contract with economic value to AES and 2) we allow AES to get economic value from its property after the zoning change.  Don’t be fooled by the fear mongering.

  24.  Why a park?

State study calls Redondo Beach "park poor" and "critically underserved" for parkland and open space.

That is the highest and best use of this land.  The California State Coastal Conservancy recently completed a study of parkland in the South Bay.  The report demonstrates that Redondo Beach, and much of the South Bay is “park poor” and “critically underserved” by parkland and open space.

After analysis of the entire South Bay, the report concludes that the best candidate for adding any substantial amount of parkland to the South Bay is the AES Power Plant property.  This report demonstrates that parkland is highest and best use of this property.

Some naysayers have commented that we have the beach and so these numbers are inaccurate.  Actually, the park ratio for Redondo Beach includes the beach. If we subtracted the beach, Redondo’s parkland ratio would drop to 1.8 acres per 1000 residents.  California standards establish that any municipality with less the 3 acres per 1000 residents is “critically underserved”.  Redondo has set its own standard as a minimum of 3 acres per 1000 residents (so they could collect fees from developers called “Quimby fees”) but the City have never achieved this, in fact the number has declined.  These Quimby fees collected have never been allocated to purchase new parkland. 

Don’t fall for the argument that residents don’t use parks… go to Alta Vista, Aviation or Perry Parks any day and you will see how well used our limited parkland is.  And don’t fall for the argument that the ocean is an unlimited park for us… you can’t jog or play soccer in the ocean.  Even the kids who surf in my neighborhood use our limited athletic fields for baseball, soccer, and related training activities.  The ocean is great, but it is not a replacement for public recreational open space.

25.  Didn’t we already vote for a park?

Yes and No.   In 2005, residents voted for a park at the AES site.  This was just an advisory vote and it was ignored.  Recently many voters voted FOR Measure G thinking that the zoning change required a park at the AES site.  While Measure G added parks as an allowable land use on the power plant property, it did not mandate any parkland or opens space on the site.  Worse – Measure G gave AES a blank check on industrial development with no height restriction, no development limits, no minimum set back requirements from the property boundaries and no coastal/harbor view protections.

Note the elusive wording AES officials used when they briefed City Council.  They stated the new power plant would be on a smaller footprint that would open up their property for other uses.  They tried to bait us with some of this freed up property could potentially be used for a park.  Note there is zero commitment on AES’ part….  Hey kid, want some candy?.

 26.  Won’t the park attract undesirable outsiders?

No.  The Council can set the park uses to ensure that the new park is not like Veteran’s Park.

Because we envision running and walking paths, athletic fields, and wetlands, we believe the area would be frequented by people working out (joggers connecting from or to the Green Belt in Hermosa, for example), bird and nature watchers (similar to those at Bolsa Chica wetlands), classes of children learning about wetlands, conservation, and coastal wildlife and habitats…. And there may be a ball field or two or some similar organized sport area.  Do not buy into the fear mongering of our opponents.

Recently, Chamber of Commerce leaders signed a misleading and despicable ad funded by AES, essentially trying to fear monger that the park would attract crime.  It was a thinly veiled racist attack.  So we researched the crime reports across Redondo.  Over the same 90 day period, Veterans Park had 6 crimes… no violence or graffiti.  Riviera Village, which most of us feel very safe in, had 32 crime reports including theft, violence and graffiti.  And the area around the Galleria Mall (they don’t show crime on mall property) was a whopping 137 crime reports with violence, theft and graffiti.  The Chamber’s and AES’ fear mongering do not stand up to scrutiny.  Perhaps the Chamber should focus more on keeping Nordstroms and fighting crime in our commercial districts than attacking parkland.

Also, the Chamber is being extremely hypocritical.  When we voted on Measure G, which upzoned the harbor area, the Chamber highlighted the park zoning that it included.  Somehow, a park was great then, but two years later… a park would be devastating.  How two faced can our Chamber get?

Oh and don’t overlook that AES is one of five Platinum Sponsors of the Chamber.  No conflict of interest there….

      

 

 

 

27.  Won’t buying the power plant cost residents big bucks?

NO!   Measure A does not require the City to buy the power plant.  This is highlighted in the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis.  Our City Attorney highlights that the park portion could potentially still be privately owned, which is how we designed it.  Even if we do choose to buy it, residents of Redondo won’t be left holding the bill.  The State Coastal Conservancy has pledged to help Redondo put work the funding sources.  And we have until 2020 to do it…ample time.

AES has thrown out costs like $450M to buy their property.  Yet their submissions to the tax equalization board show values from $25M to $93M – how convenient.  Sounds like they are not being totally honest with someone, doesn’t it.  In comparison, the 13 miles of coastline near Hearst Castle set aside for the public by the Hearst Corporation cost less than $300M.  Think of that - 13 miles of pristine coastline worth less than 50 acres of brownfield with no real water frontage in the middle of densely built-out city ?  We don’t think so.

First off, the value of the land is totally dependent on the land’s final zoning.  So until that is settled, putting any real price on the land is not possible.  Suppose it stays zoned as it is now:  industrial and park.  If their power plant permits or long term contracts are denied, their property will be worth very little – AES will be begging  for new zoning so they can make money.  Had AES gotten the Heart of the City zoning for thousands of condos, then the property value would be very high, with the property costs born by developers.  Right now AES has no contract to produce power after 2018 and their new plant is not approved.  Under current zoning, their land has little value if they cannot get  a new power contract and get approval to rebuild a power plant.

Our initiative includes a mix of about 30% commercial/institutional zoning and about 70% park zoning.  AES could get value for the land sold or leased to developers and operators for the commercial/institional portion of the property.  As far as the park zoned property, there are a number of ways to pay AES.  We could do a bond, where residents agree to fork out so much to buy a park.  But that is not what we are proposing.  The California State Coastal Conservancy has offered to help us attract and integrate the funding from a number of available sources and methods – none of which burdens Redondo residents.  And the park would pay for its own sustainment. Most of the funding for the Hearst deal came from tax benefits of the deal to the Hearst Corporation, for example.

Don’t buy AES’ fear mongering.  Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Ballona Wetlands, Ormand Beach, and the Hearst Ranch deals all have one thing in common… the local residents did not bear the cost of the public land acquisition.  Why should ours?

28.  Won’t we get a lot of condos if we are successful in preventing a new power plant?

NO!  First, the initiative zoning does not allow condos or timeshares.  But regardless of our initiative, any major change in zoning has to go to a vote of the people per our City Charter.  So residents will get a say in any zoning change of the power plant site and the power lines if the power line right of ways become available.

29.  What about the need to power electric cars?

The CEC published their California Energy Demand 2012-2022 Final Forecast in June 2012.  This report projects the impacts of electric cars on our section of power grid through 2022.  The report concludess that most electric car owners plug in to recharge at night which is not when our peak power needs occur.  Their worst case estimate is that electric cars will add just 98 MW of power demand during peak power demand times by 2022.    At the same time they predict home solar generation will dwarf this new demand by adding at least 878 MW of peak power generation.  Additionally, more efficient buildings and appliances will offset the peak  demand by over 6,000 MW.  Home solar generation combined with energy efficient buildings overshadow the negative impact of electric car peak demand by over 7000%!  Obviously, electric vehicles do not drive any need for more power plants in our area of the grid.

30.  Don’t we need our plant for natural disasters?

Liquefaction in King Harbor after Northridge earthquake. The power plant property and surrouding areas are prone to liquefaction in an earthquake event. If the plant and transmission lines survive, could anyone even get to it?

NO!  Most people do not realize that our power plant does not feed directly into Redondo Beach power lines.  The power from AES Redondo is carried way inland before it is distributed to the grid.  So AES Redondo would have to survive the disaster (as well as the roads leading to it), and the lines carrying its power inland would have to survive and then all the local transmission lines have to survive.  We are surrounded by power plants in close proximity and two more will be online by the end of summer 2013 – so the power plants are not the most likely failure source.  In the Northridge earthquake, power went down over much of LA.  The outages were mostly due to transmission line failures.

AES Redondo is just a few feet above sea level and is built on a filled in wetlands.  There is nothing to stop a Tsunami or tidal surge from hitting the plant and during an earthquake the power plant property and surrounding roads are subject to liquefaction.

Don’t fall for our opponents’ fear mongering.  A new plant at this site does not protect us from power outages in most natural disaster scenarios.

31.  What about the traffic and pollution of Measure A?

Per ITE trip generation tables – each acre of regional park generates 0.2 car trips at peak traffic hours. That means the park for Measure A would generate a whopping 7 trips at peak hours. If we had recreational fields the use would be more – a soccer filed generates 20 trips at peak traffic hour.

A resort hotel generates .42 peak hour trips per room. If we maxed out the development as 100% maxed out hotel that would generate 363 peak hour trips.

Commercial generates the most traffic. If we absolutely maxed out Measure A zoning with 100% sit down restaurant (drive throughs are not allowed)  it would generate 973 peak hour trips.

Obviously the mix of uses is important and that is why Measure A incentivises low traffic uses by allowing  more square footage for the low trip generating uses.

This is a compromise.  Our zoning is designed to generate city revenue to pay for park maintenance and to give AES fair value for their land.   We feel the trade off is fair for residents – the increase in traffic is comparatively minor and we get rid of 50 years of blight, pollution and eyesore.

Even in the worst case, the pollution of Measure A is dwarfed by the pollution of a new power plant. The average 2005 family car engine produces a whopping 0.14 pounds of particulate pollution per year over the 12,000 miles the average family drives it. (Newer cars are even cleaner) The power plant at AES’ lowest advertised run rate puts out 34,200 pounds of particulate pollution per year. That is the same as 244,286 cars driving around and around the power plant for 12,000 miles each, each year.

8 Responses Leave One →
  1. Lily permalink
    August 3, 2011

    Who is the actual owner of the land AES is on? What is his name?
    Also, if re-zoning it, and AES is torn down and rebuilt with all that has been proposed; will the land owner still profit and live off the revenue generated ON HIS LAND(property)?

    Please reply to my questions.
    Thank you!

    • August 5, 2011

      The owner is AES. We are advocating rezoning this land for 30% commercial and 70% park. AES could sell or lease the commercial portions and we would work with the state to buy the parkland from them. Thus is the same path followed in other communities and it is what city staff recommended in 2003/2004.

      The city has the right to rezone. In 1992, they down zoned much of the residential zoning in the city and converted many commercial properties to residential. That is why, for example, the Catalina Coffee Company cannot expand. The property was converted to residential zoning.

      City documents show that the power plant is incompatible with surrounding uses. They show it lowering property and business values. The documents call the power plant the major blighting influence in the harbor. Based on City documents and their own assessment, the County declared the area officially blighted.

      We can rezone and still let AES make some money on at the property. We are not taking their land away from them. AES Southland President, Eric Pendergraft, recently met with BBR and Councilman Brand. In this meeting he stated AES was open to alternative uses of their property. Our intent is to turn this into a win for AES, a win for City revenue and a win for residents who live near or frequest the harbor area.

  2. Steven Hopper permalink
    May 11, 2012

    My recollections are that for the past 17 yrs, I’ve sought relief from the plant’s noise and pollution, but since RB City services (‘our’ police, building inspectors, etc.) all claim they have no control over noise, referring me to the AQMD (who basically say ‘they usually don’t get involved in this sort of thing’, is all too common; complain and they simply ignore and/or try to pass the buck. And RB police indicate they have not so much as a simple hand held decibel meter needed to enforce any noise issues (supposedly a meter is too expensive as it requires calibration). And they say this despite the fact that DB Meters are cheap and their calibration in truth costs practically nothing because any inspection instrument operator simply uses a hi-lo set of “references” immediately prior to using any particularly sensitive meter. Note metrology is the science of calibrating and certifying equipment and devices and “references” are simply accepted reliable means of gauging the device’s current accuracy. Regardless that I see a lot of good intentions in the BBR, surely it seems that RBC’s interest is fundamentally on ‘not paying out any more money in lawsuits’, so why are they ignoring even so much as noise abatement and enforcement for AES (why’s nobody or no agency fining AES)?

  3. Wolfman permalink
    June 8, 2012

    probably for the same reason they don’t enforce all the recent late nite jet noise from LAX and low flying aircraft

  4. Melanie permalink
    January 25, 2013

    How much pollution will the cars from park visitors, hotel guests, and retail shoppers generate in comparison to that put out by the power plant? How much will traffic increase on our main thoroughfares and on Harbor Blvd. Where are the traffic studies? It’s great that the city will generate more tax revenue, but what about quality of life for its residents in general with increased traffic/congestion? I’m not saying I’m against the plan, just very concerned about the lack of traffic information. Parking onsite is one thing, but visitors still have to get to the site via the same roads we run errands on, bring our kids to school on, or visit the beach with.

    • January 25, 2013

      Per ITE trip generation tables – each acre of regional park generates 0.2 car trips at peak traffic hours. That means the park for Measure A would generate a whopping 7 trips at peak hours. If we had recreational fields the use would be more – a soccer filed generates 20 trips at peak traffic hour. A resort hotel generates .42 peak hour trips per room. If we maxed out the development as 100% maxed out hotel that would 363 trips. Commercial generates the most traffic. If we absolutely maxed out with 100% restaurant it would generate 973 peak hour trips. Obviously the mix of uses is important and that is why Measure A allows more square footage for the low trip generating uses.

      Even in the worst case, the pollution of Measure A is dwarfed by the pollution of a new power plant. The average 2005 family car engine produces a whopping 0.14 pounds of particulate pollution per year over the 12,000 miles the average family drives it. (Newer cars are even cleaner) The power plant at AES’ lowest advertised run rate puts out 34,200 pounds of particulate pollution per year. That is the same as 244,286 cars driving around and around the power plant for 12,000 miles each, each year.

  5. MrSun permalink
    February 19, 2013

    Will measure A affect the Sea Lab? Since the Sea Lab is on the same corridor as the AES property, can AES shut down Sea Lab? Will Measure A affect the Seaside Lagoon? I also hear that AES feeds the lagoon it’s water… Also, isn’t the AES plant a natural gas plant. Same natural gas that’s in our homes.. I have heard that the plant natural gas is burned twice before its released into the air from the stacks. I also hear that steam is released from the plant either out of the stacks or a separate stack that’s very loud. Cant AES just leave the plant as non operational? I have seen the old car wash on Torrance Blvd sitting there for years and who’s to say AES wont do the same. I hear both sides of the measure.. Can anyone answer my concerns.

    • February 19, 2013

      Measure A zoning does not affect Sea Lab. But with the AES plant being rebuilt or gone in either scenario, I cannot answer. If AES sells the property we will likely have to find another sponsor.

      You are correct about the SeaSide Lagoon, but that will be impacted in either scenario as AES must switch its cooling method if a new plant is rebuilt.

      The new proposed turbines do have burners on the ducts for second buring, but they are not used all the time. The 49 tons of particulate pollution in AES air pollution analysis is calculated with these burners based on assumptions AES makes pn how often they will be used.

      While AES has submitted a noise assessment, there are virtually no details and they admit there will have to be further analysis. This is one of those huge data gaps in the AES submission and is a big red flag, especially since the new plant is hundreds of feet closer to high density residential neighborhoods.

      Measure A requires the plant to be torn down by the end of 2022. AES cannot just walk away. The site is a registered contamination site. It would be against state and federal law to abandon the site without cleaining it up. #Even AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft testified to council he did not see a situation where AES would just walk away from the site.

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