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About the AES Alamitos Modernization Project


What is the Alamitos Energy Center (AEC) project?

The Alamitos Energy Center (AEC) is a proposed natural-gas-fired, fast starting, combined- cycle gas turbine, air-cooled electrical generating facility with a net generating capacity of 1,936 megawatts (MW). AEC will consist of four 3-on-1 combined-cycle gas turbine power blocks, with twelve natural-gas-fired combustion turbine generators (CTG), twelve heat recovery steam generators (HRSG), four steam turbine generators (STG), four air-cooled condensers, and related ancillary equipment.

The new plant will be more attractive than the existing plant, with lower stacks and more street-side landscaping. It will also run more efficiently, be able to start and stop more quickly, and allow the state to integrate more wind and solar into its energy mix.

What are the environmental impacts?

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is the lead agency for licensing power plants 50 megawatts and above, and its staff will be conducting an environmental analysis (equivalent to California Environmental Quality Act) of the project as part of its process. Until that process is complete, we can assure you that AES has gone through a very comprehensive, detailed and public process to assess project impacts. There are 19 discrete disciplines (e.g. public health, visual, noise, air quality, construction, etc.) assessed as part of the overall impact evaluation and the information is publically available on the California Energy Commission’s (CEC’s) website.

What are the impacts on the Alamitos Bay?

Coastal power plants are required to significantly reduce the use of ocean water for cooling by 2020. So while AES will be prevented from using our ocean water pumps for power generation in the future, the City of Long Beach is exploring options for using the circulating pumps as part of an overall water quality improvement strategy for the Alamitos Bay. The City of Long Beach is discussing the issue with the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The City of Long Beach, the Water Board and AES will work collaboratively to ensure water quality in the Alamitos Bay does not suffer due to the improvements we are planning for the plant.

How long will the modernization process take?

A development project like the Alamitos Energy Center (AEC) typically takes about 10 years. We are currently in the pre-construction stage, which includes permitting, contract negotiations and financing. This will take about two years. From on-site construction to demolition and removal of the existing plant, we expect to begin in the first quarter of 2016 and end around 2027.

Will the project create local jobs?

Our plans to modernize the power plant creates 51 permanent jobs, while also creating
4.7 million hours of construction related work while it’s being built. In addition, our $2 billion private investment in the project will contribute more than $14.6 million a year to help grow Long Beach’s local economy and generate more tax revenue to help pay for local services.

Will there be an interruption in service while the old plant is being removed?

AES Alamitos is an important source of clean, reliable electricity to the LA Basin. For this reason, we have planned carefully so that the demolition of the old plant and construction of the new plant will be done in phases so as not to interrupt electricity generation.

What will the construction impacts be?

AES made an extensive review of all construction options and will be very pro-active in minimizing and mitigating construction impacts. The public will be shielded from noise, visual and dust impacts by the existing facility; and all construction and/or noise will occur only during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, and occasionally on Saturdays.

What will the traffic impacts be?

AES conducted in-depth research to avoid and/or minimize potential impacts on parking, traffic, and transportation during the construction phase. All employees, construction workers, construction equipment and supplies will be commuting through a variety of available roadways — minimizing potential traffic impacts. To avoid morning and afternoon commuting hours, when the highest volumes of traffic are experienced, heavy/oversized equipment will be delivered in the late evening hours. All employees, construction workers, construction equipment and supplies will be parking onsite, to ensure minimal impact on the community.

Will the proposed project be quieter than the existing plant?

The sound levels at the fence line will actually be lower than required by Local Ordinance and Rules (LORS). We’ve also taken the extra step to surround the plant with walls as an added sound barrier to make the plant both quieter and more visually pleasing.

What will the project cost local residents?

We’d like to assure you that the modernization plans are 100% privately funded. Southern California Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission set and approve customer rates. And while we can’t speculate on future energy rates, we can definitely assure you that having a new Alamitos power plant is the most effective (and least costly) solution to providing a local supply of reliable electricity, while helping California reach its future clean energy and air quality goals.

Will wind or solar be part of the new project?

While wind and solar generation are not part of the Alamitos Energy Center (AEC), the project is actually helping the state integrate more renewable resources elsewhere. With the state increasing its reliance on renewable energy sources, which fluctuate significantly, we must prepare to meet energy demand with controllable natural gas power plants, like this one.

A modern, natural gas plant can precisely control and adjust output and can be started and stopped within minutes — enabling a consistent, dependable supply of electricity to balance renewable energy. So when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, AES will be able to provide a stable supply of energy with no interruption.

What are the impacts on the nearby wetlands?

We’re happy to say that this project will not adversely impact the Los Cerritos Wetlands, of which AES Alamitos is a proud supporter.

What will happen to the green sea turtles?

The green sea turtles are drawn to the warm waters created by AES Alamitos’ Once Through Cooling (OTC) process, which the state is now requiring all California power plants to significantly reduce, with all power plants required to be within compliance by 2020. Our modernization project will replace OTC with an air-cooled system, which will mean that the water warming effects of our plant will cease in 2019. However, another nearby plant, Haynes, will continue to use OTC through 2029 (due to a special extension). So we all will likely enjoy the sea turtles for another 15 years or so before the cooling waters lead them to migrate to another area, where a new community will get to enjoy their beauty.

How will the modernized plant cool the turbines?

The new plant will have state-of-the-art equipment that utilizes moving air to cool the turbine exhaust steam. This type of system is known as an “air-cooled condenser,” and it functions similarly to the radiator and circulation fans in your car.

The existing plant uses ocean water for its cooling system rather than the air-cooled system in our new proposed plant. By replacing the existing, older plant with a new, efficient, air- cooled plant, AES is able to not only surpass environmental requirements by eliminating the use of ocean water, but also ensure a cleaner, more reliable energy source that is responsive to California’s energy needs.

Why can’t the plant be moved to another location in the state?

In addition to the land required for the plant itself, there is a very complex infrastructure that must be in place for a natural gas power plant to function, including large natural gas pipelines, transmission lines and electricity sub-stations — all within 1⁄2 mile of the power plant. These, of course, already exist at the AES Alamitos plant, and would continue to serve the new, modernized Alamitos Energy Center (AEC).

However, AES has researched alternate locations and failed to find one with suitable infrastructure. And to build the needed infrastructure would require obtaining additional rights-of-way, meaning the involvement of people’s private property.

How do I learn more about the project?

The California Energy Commission (CEC) — which is the state agency in charge of permitting the plant — will be holding a series of Public Workshops to discuss our application. In addition, we will also be hosting meetings and Telephone Town Halls where local residents can learn more about the project. These meetings will be announced on both our website at, as well as the California Energy Commission’s (CEC’s) website, and in local newspapers, email notices and other mailings. We hope you will take the time to attend these workshops as they are scheduled.