For a second time last month, a review committee at the California Energy Commission (CEC) gave the thumbs up to a major natural gas-fired replacement plant for an older, less-efficient thermal generating facility slated to close under the state's ban on the use of seawater for cooling.

AES Southland Development LLC again received the positive recommendation from a CEC presiding member's proposed decision for a new 844 MW gas-fired project at its existing Huntington Beach site, similar to thefavorable recommendation for a 1,044 MW gas-fired replacement it has in the works at its Long Beach plant site.

CEC Commissioners Andrew McAlister (presiding member) and Karen Douglas (associate member) have concluded that an amended Huntington Beach Energy Project with prescribed mitigation measures won't have significant environmental impacts and complies with all other applicable laws and regulations.

Thus, the proposed approval of the project will be considered by the full five-member CEC at its April 12 meeting.

As recommended, the Huntington Beach project will have two generation blocks -- a 644 MW combined cycle combustion turbine, and another with twin 100 MW simple-cycle combustion turbine generators. The former would be operational in 2020, and the two peaking turbines four years later in 2024.

"Demolition of the existing Huntington Beach units 1 and 2 is expected to be completed by 2025," according to CEC spokesperson.

AES earlier obtained a CEC license for a 939 MW facility at the site, but in September 2015, the company petitioned to amend the project, lowering its capacity and modifying its operating equipment and design to meet the requirements of its power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison Co.

Since state Water Resource Board requirements call for the phasing out of so-called "once-through cooling" plants, the new facility will be air-cooled and built within the footprint of the existing power generation facilities.

There is a standard 30-day public review period for presiding member proposed decisions like this one by McAlister and Douglas.