What new state requirements restricting ocean water use to cool California's string of coastal natural gas-fired power plants have done to reshape the state's reliance on gas-fired generation has been magnified by the unexpected loss of the 2,200 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (Songs) this year.

At least one multi-plant coastal operator, Virginia-based AES Corp., has plans to repower and transform its sites along the Southern California coast during the next 10 years, but it already is beginning to stir up concerns among the residents in nearby beachfront communities.

With the state's once-through-cooling (OTC) ban slated to be phased in over the next 10 years, AES is holding 4,200 MW of gas-fired generating capacity in its three coastal sites: Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, Huntington Beach 10 miles farther south, and Redondo Beach in the South Bay area about 20 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.

AES has submitted OTC compliance plans to the state Water Conservation Control Board (WCCB) for all three of its plant sites. The one in Redondo Beach, which involves the sale and redevelopment of part of its 50-acre site, with the rest being used for a smaller footprint gas-fired generating plant to replace the 1,356 MW of capacity, now in place.

"The plan is the same at all three sites," an AES spokesperson told NGI. They would all be combined-cycle gas-fired generation units, and collectively would be about the same size as the current AES fleet, not counting 450 MW of capacity that AES earlier sold to Edison Mission Energy.

At Huntington Beach and Alamitos, all of the acreage devoted to the generation plant will be reused for that purpose, but in Redondo Beach only about 25% of the site would be reused for power generation. "Seventy-fire percent, or about 38 acres, would be available for re-purposing," the spokesperson said.

Earlier this year residents and activists in the Redondo Beach area were gathering signatures to get a measure on the local ballot that would ban any new power plant from being developed at the site. Activists want the property rezoned with 70% of it going for parkland. The site is adjacent to a yacht club and public beaches.

Approvals for the repowering are expected from the California Energy Commission by October 2013, construction is tentatively slated to begin in early 2015, and the first generating units are targeted to start during 2018-2019.

There could be pressure to accelerate repowering if the Songs outage continues without a schedule for at least bringing back one of the nuclear units on a partial basis (see Daily GPI, Sept. 18).

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