AES power plant in Huntington Beach

If you drive down PCH in Huntington Beach you will pass the only power plant in Orange County. Located at Newland and PCH, across the street from the beach.

The natural gas plant is owned by AES a leading global power company with 132 plants in 32 countries with $17 billion in revenue. It is currently listed at #150 on the Fortune 500 (pdf).

In California, it operates 2 other natural gas plants in Los Alamitos and Redondo Beach. As well as 5 wind stations. Although, the largest section of its portfolio are coal powered plants located elsewhere in the USA.

The plant in Huntington Beach was purchased from Southern California Edison in 1998 and has been in operation since 1958. It uses conventional GM steam turbines among others.

In 2001, the company petitioned to upgrade and then turn on gas burners 3 and 4 (additional source), which would bring the capacity up to 904 MW. They were successful and, in 2002, the city valued the plant at $325 million.

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Huntington Beach Goes Solar

Huntington Beach is leading the nation in many green areas, including clean energy. In just a few weeks, the city government’s largest buildings, City Hall and Central Library, will have full solar installations in the parking lot.

This project is the result of several years of energy savings for the city, including a review of the energy costs for the city government, broken down below:

HB City Government Electricity 2008-09

  • Street Lights – $2.0 million
  • City Hall – $564K
  • Water Pumping – $519K
  • Central Library – $398K
  • Traffic Lights – $90k
  • Other – $836K
  • Total – $4.5 million

** Source: HB Energy Action Plan (pdf)

As you can see the street lights in the city are, by far, the most expensive. After that comes City Hall and Central Library, which combined cost the city nearly 1$ million/year.

In response the city used Obama’s stimulus money to fund a solar feasibility project. The results showed a positive return for the city and they put out a contract:

“SunEdison was selected as the winning bidder for the solar project…(and the city) entered into a 20-year, 2.3 Megawatt Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contract, with SunEdison providing, owning, and operating the equipment. The city purchases the solar power at a flat rate from SunEdison.”

“According to the terms of this agreement the city is not liable for any capital costs or maintenance. Additionally, the city benefits from shaded parking.”

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