L.A. Mayor Announces Ten Year Phase-Out Of SE LB-Adjacent DWP Haynes Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant Seeking To End Reliance On Fossil Fuels, But Across River in LB, AES Is Now Building An Upgraded Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant After 2016 Support From LB Area Electeds
|(Feb. 12, 2019, 4:15 p.m.) -- Creating a visible policy contrast with the actions of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and the LB City Council, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today (Feb. 12) announced plans for a ten-year phase-out of the Long Beach-adjacent DWP natural gas-fired Haynes generating station (and two other similar DWP power plants in El Segundo and Wilmington) as part of a declared plans to phase out L.A.'s reliance on fossil fuels.
"This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in L.A. We've come together to cement our leadership on #ClimateChange, end our dependence on fossil fuels and move toward a renewable energy future," Mayor Garcetti Tweeted in connection with a Feb. 12 press event.
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The 2019 position of L.A. Mayor contrasts with the 2016 positions of Long Beach area elected officials who applauded plans to upgrade a natural gas-fired AES power plant that has operated on Studebaker Rd. south of Loynes Dr. (just across the San Gabriel River from the L.A. DWP plant) since the 1950's.
In 2016, multiple Long Beach area supported AES' desire to provide 1,040 megawatts (which the company contended is needed to meet future power needs) by replacing its old equipment and constructing a new upgraded natural gas-fired plant at the location alongside an entirely new Lithium battery storage facility (the latter enabling the company to store energy and provide it on-demand during high-demand periods.) The new AES facility (which the company calls an "Energy Center") also offers a lower visible profile, reducing eyesore-impacts of its old plant and will consume roughly 50% less fuel and 70% less water, the latter by ending the old facility's environmentally-unfriendly use of ocean water to cool its generators.
Supporters of the AES-sought natural gas-fired upgrade at the time included 3rd dist. LB City Councilwoman Suzie Price, Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell and then-State Senator (now state Insurance Commissioner) Ricardo Lara.
A number of prominent area environmentalists opposed the AES-sought planned gas-fired project at the time on grounds its 1,040 megawatt capability is larger than they said is needed, and said its use of fossil fuel is inconsistent with state-declared policies to pursue greater use of alternative renewable energy sources. At a November 2016 evidentiary hearing, five members of the California Energy Commission plus a hearing officer came to Long Beach to take testimony on the matter.
At the hearing, Assemblyman O'Donnell, Councilwoman Price and then-State Senator Lara (the latter through aide Tonya Martin) urged approval of the AES-sought project. Councilwoman Price's position put her at odds with the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust. In written testimony, LCWLT Exec. Dir. Elizabeth Lambe wrote: "On the surface the proposal sounds like progress. And the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust was supportive of the proposal before we did our own research and found flaws with the idea. We are now advocating a down-sized facility that will meet all the desirable parts of the project, and avoid the undesirable parts.",
Also opposed was Gordana Kajer, a veteran LB-area environmentalist who subsequently challenged Price in the 2018 election cycle. Ms. Kajer also among the more outspoken opponents of building a $100+ million Belmont Beach Aquatic Center at the same shoreline location where seismic issues doomed the City's previous smaller Belmont Plaza pool. Councilwoman Price and the area's active aquatics community support the Aquatics center and in April 2018, voters re-elected Price with over 75% of the vote. [Ms. Kajer is an active appellant as the Aquatics project approaches a crucial Coastal Commission. hearing in the coming months.]
>AES said the following on its website about its proposed project at the time:
[AES text] Since the late 1950s, a natural gas power plant has operated in Long Beach, providing a reliable source of electricity to local residents and the region for more than half a century.
LBREPORT.com considered the CA Energy Commission evidentiary hearing significant at the time and provided LIVE coverage of it...and what was said then is noteworthy now. The first audio segment opens with introductions of participating parties, staff and local elected officials at this link. The second portion includes public comments at this link.
On April 12, 2017. the CA Energy Commission approved licensing for the upgraded AES natural gas-fired power plant and adjacent Lithium battery storage facility.
In 2014, the CA Public Utilities Commission approved Southern California Edisonís plans to purchase 640 megawatts worth of power from AES' proposed Long Beach plant. The CPUC also approved dozens of other deals in which Edison agreed to buy electricity from new sources in order to make up for power supplies that are due to be lost as a result of the retirement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente.
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