Tuesday night, the Redondo Beach City Council threw its unanimous support behind a proposed set of rules that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) will either approve or reject at its Friday meeting.
Under the SCAQMD’s current system, companies that shut down their utility boilers are rewarded with credit that can then be used toward the permitting of new gas turbines.
If the rules pass, companies will be required to pay for that credit – a cost that could turn out to be a roadblock for some proposed energy projects.
Locally, the proposal matters because AES Southland is in the process of applying for certification of its plan to rebuild its Harbor Drive facility, modernizing its infrastructure and shrinking its acreage from 50 to 13. AES could potentially use credit from the SCAQMD toward its permitting process, but under the proposed regulations would have to pay out-of-pocket instead.
City Attorney Mike Webb said Tuesday that the proposed regulations might not deter the energy company in its effort to re-power.
“AES has filed documents with the state water board that says they’re relying on these exemptions as they currently exist and wouldn’t be able to repower if this goes through,” Webb said. “I don’t know if that’s true… It may figure into increasing their costs, but I don’t necessarily think it’s something that would prevent them from going forward.”
The Redondo Beach City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday that accuses the current system of engendering “circumstances where companies having the ability to access the SCAQMD’s internal offsets have essentially profited by selling their access.”
As an example, the resolution says, AES sold two boilers from its Huntington Beach facility to Edison Mission Energy, which then shut them down and received credit for doing so. The company then used that credit toward permitting a new plant in the City of Industry.
The council’s resolution concludes: “[T]he amount of money paid for the specific purpose of gaining access to credits from SCAQMD went to AES rather than to provide additional emission reductions in the South Coast Region to help clean the air.”
The resolution binds the council to the position that “as a public good the offsets in the internal offset bank should not be given away without a corresponding public benefit, which the proposed rule will provide by using the revenues to obtain emission reductions.”
Proceeds from the purchase of credit should be used toward air quality control in Redondo Beach and surrounding areas, the resolution maintains.
Councilmember Bill Brand called passing the resolution “a no-brainer’; many Redondo Beach residents took the podium to congratulate the council on its decision.
Still others, however, expressed disappointment that the council has not yet voted on whether to impose a moratorium on construction at the AES site.
“You have been elected to show your leadership and fight against the powerful dragon who is blighting our community… With no moratorium the dragon will continue to puff poison for the next 100 years, destroying the beauty of our waterfront, the health of kids and adults, seniors, and residents… Stop your indecision and procrastination and do what is required [and] approve the moratorium,” resident Delia Vechy said.
The council directed city staff to present the council with a bulletproof draft of a moratorium as expeditiously as possible.
District 5 councilmember Kilroy said whether or not the AES proposal gets the green light from state authorities, passing a moratorium would put the council in “the best negotiating position.”