Monthly Archives: May 2012

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Redondo’s Forgotten Beach

A few years ago I spent a little time working in the Republic of Georgia. We spent a few days at a run-down, worker’s resort on the Black Sea in January. It was cold and bleak.

One Sunday afternoon, I needed an ocean fix so I walked along the beach for about an hour. I spent most of that time looking down to avoid stepping on dead sea animals, industrial trash and a variety of other flotsam and jetsam that had been allowed to accumulate as far as the eye could see.

I accepted that risk, the risk of stepping on something sharp and picking up some flesh-eating bacteria or virus, to get my ocean fix. There was no place else to get it.

Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I got a strong flashback to that day on the Black Sea beach. This time, I was right here in Redondo Beach. I started to walk down the beach from Yacht Club Way right beside the breakwater.

Within about 50 feet I was surrounded by fast-food packaging and household trash, much of which was woven into a tapestry of seaweed. Someone with a greater aesthetic sense might have seen the beauty in the various colors and shapes strewn all over the beach. I just saw trash.

It got there as a result of the storm drain a hundred yards or so up the beach on the border of Hermosa and Redonodo. It stayed there long after the winter rains because of neglect.

At first I thought to question whether the elected official who represents the district where that short stretch of beach is located bears some responsibility. In fairness, even if he was  more focused on the day-to-day needs of his district instead of the power plant, there isn’t much he could do about it.

Redondo’s charter prevents any elected official from giving instructions to city staff. That means, if the mayor or a city councilman wanted to get some trash picked up or some copies made, he has no legal authority to instruct a city employee to carry out his orders.

Those orders must come from a department head but only with the approval of the one individual who has any real power in Redondo Beach, the city manager. As a practical matter, a majority vote of the city council could remove the city manager. So each city councilman is 20% of the city manager’s boss but otherwise he has no boss. If you think he works for the people of the city, think again.

If the mayor or a councilman wanted something done, I’m pretty sure the city manager would get it done, within reason. However, if the city manager decided not to respond to such a request, there would be nothing short of voting to fire him that a city councilman could do to get any city employee to carry out his wishes.

Some readers might question the accuracy of these observations. Spend some time with the Municipal Code and you’ll probably see what I see. Most people who live here have an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of how things work in the city. It makes me wonder whether anyone else sees this as a big, fundamental problem with how the city is governed.


I look at the death to AES campaign and see a cynical manipulation of a worthwhile public movement by self-serving political operatives. I can’t help it. That’s what I see.

One part of the campaign seems to be driven more by lack of understanding and business experience than anything more sinister.

The fundamental choice not to include AES and consider the company’s interests in a conversation that is intended to determine the fate of the company’s operations in Redondo Beach could only be categorized as naive. Even if the leadership of the anti-AES movement is correct and the popular sentiment against power generation in the South Bay manages to push AES into a corner, it’s naive to think the decisions the company makes will not have a huge impact on what ultimately transpires between AES and Redondo Beach. Those decisions may have more impact on the overall outcome than anything coming out of the California Energy Commission.

Big, strategic decisions in corporations are made by boards of directors (BOD). I currently serve on the board of directors of a company that conducts business around the world. I also served on the board of a national industry association for 6 years. That board was made up of CEOs of all major businesses within the industry.

I only mention this because I think I can provide some valuable insight based on experiences I’ve had that the people leading the charge to crush AES have not had. We’re not talking about your condo owners association. The people who sit on BOD are industry leaders. They’re the one percenters, the people Republicans call job creators.

A quick look at the AES board will reveal some credentials like Freddie Mac, World Bank, IRS Commissioner and work in the office of Secretary of Defense, to name a few. It’s worth checking out, AES Board.

Board members make the most critical decisions within a corporation yet hardly any of them have any operations experience in the company. They’re the big, global thinkers. They don’t need to know how to turn on the power plant or clean the smoke stacks. They need to know how to set the company’s strategic goals and move toward them.

These people know where to look for the information they need. They know how to sift through it quickly and get to the most important material. They rarely hesitate to make big decisions because their own business success came from making the right decisions more often than making the wrong decisions. They have a confidence that’s bolstered by habitual success.

I’ve participated in hundreds of board meetings. Here are two situations that are entirely possible, maybe even likely, based on that experience.

(Note: The following accounts of board meetings are COMPLETELY fictional. I made them up. Also, unlike my fellow board members, I am not a one percenter. I don’t have an attorney on retainer who can advise me on the legality of using real names so I opt for names I’ve made up.)

Situation #1

Chairman: “Our next agenda item is the future of AES Redondo Beach. You all know AES Southland President, Ed Entwhistle. I’d like to call Ed up to fill us all in on the status of the plant and the repowering application.”

Entwhistle: “Thank you Mr. Chairman. As you all know, we’re up for a license review and renewal. The current license expires in 2018.”

“You’re also well aware we’ve had considerable resistance from various factions within the community, to any plan to repower and resume operations beyond the 2018 expiration date. We have a city council that seems to blow in the direction of the prevailing wind so we can’t expect any guidance from them.”

“The people behind the public opposition just want a fight. They won’t talk or consider anything other than a complete shut down of the plant.”

“The board may want to consider some limited options for maximizing the return from the underlying real estate in the event we fail to get permitted. For now, I believe we need to focus all our lobbying and legal resources behind pushing the permitting process through the CEC. We may find a reason or an opportunity sometime in the future to offer some concession on land, operations or both but for now there’s no one to negotiate with. My recommendation is to petition state regulators for an expansion and complete build out of the plant to its total, potential capacity.”

Situation #2

Chairman: “Our next agenda item is the future of AES Redondo Beach. You all know AES Southland President, Ed Entwhistle. I’d like to call Ed up to fill us all in on the status of the plant and the repowering application.”

Entwhistle: “Thank you Mr. Chairman. As you all know, we’re up for a license review and renewal. The current license expires in 2018.”

“You’re also well aware we’ve had considerable resistance from various factions within the community to any plan to repower and resume operations beyond the 2018 expiration date. The city council has shown considerable leadership in facilitating dialogue between the staunchly, anti-power plant citizens and the people within the community who believe the best thing for Redondo Beach and the South Bay is for some kind of negotiated solution.”

“We have a community that’s somewhat receptive to a solution that provides some significant benefits to the city and surrounding areas. My recommendation is that AES capitalize on this opportunity for dialogue and make every effort to find a way to bridge the significant gaps between the interests of the company and those of the community.”

Of course, Mr. Entwhistle’s address to the BOD would have much more data and substance but his observations on the ground and his recommendations would most likely influence the board’s decision.

The anti-AES leadership would probably respond to these imaginary conversations by saying they didn’t care. They don’t need or want AES to participate in the discussion of the company’s future in the South Bay.

That predicted response is based on their behavior thus far on the powerplant issue and past behavior on DD and Measure G. But does everyone else in the community who wants the powerplant to shut down believe we are going to get the best deal possible with the least damage to the city by staging an assault that doesn’t even acknowledge AES’s rights as a property owner and partner in the community?

I remember one time I went to court to fight a ticket I got for turning right at a red light that was posted, no turning. I took pictures of the branches that obscured the sign and created speed calculations that clearly showed I couldn’t have seen the sign. After showing it all to the judge he said, “So?” That was that. I paid a $200 fine.

Every argument the anti-AES people have, the plant isn’t needed, no one wants it, etc. may be completely valid and true. But in the end, being right about all of it my have little or no impact on the CEC ruling for the new license.

When that ruling comes down, 2 or 3 years from now, AES might get everything they want, a permit for a new plant, maybe even an expansion. It’s anyone’s guess how that decision will go.

Which BOD do you want in charge of AES if that happens, the one from Situation #1 that’s been pulled into a fight with Redondo or the one from Situation #2 that’s agreed to try to find an equitable solution?

If that decision comes down in favor of AES’s application to re-power, the company will have no further incentive to give up any land or any part of its operations. If the relationship to the city is hostile, you can bet the city will get nothing. Although it might get a hefty legal bill if the anti-AES folks drag us in that direction.

On the other hand, the process of facilitating the concessions the company made to the city could be well underway at that point. There would be no going back regardless of how good a deal they got from the CEC.

I can only speak for one person who would like to see a Redondo Beach with no powerplant on its waterfront. That’s me. I’d rather deal with a big business in a business-like manner, than take a naive position that risks landing the city in a worse place than where it began.

Thank you Mayor Mike Gin

Sometimes, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. The City Council approved a motion to formally ask voters if they oppose a power plant in Redondo Beach? I could save them a lot of time and money. The answer is YES, people in the community oppose the power plant.

I can’t even imagine who might support having a power plant in Redondo Beach. I was trying to imagine who those people might be and came up with this imaginary interview.

Me: Why do you want to continue having a power plant in Redondo?

Mr. X: I love the smell of the exhaust. It always reminds me of the beach. Aside from the occasional cold and some severe coughing every once in a while, I feel fine. Plus, it’s a stately, art deco building that enhances the historical beauty of the whole area.

Me: Interesting perspective…How’s the food in this place, as opposed to a non-psychiatric hospital?

The statement that the community doesn’t want a power plant has been made and there’s no opposition that I can see, at least from the community. There’s absolutely no strategic reason to transform that statement into something resembling policy at this time. Although, if I was running for re-election to the City Council, I’d welcome the publicity that comes with supporting mom, apple pie and fighting the huge corporation that wants to destroy our community.

In time, when there’s a plan on the table, there may well be a strategic advantage to be gained from adopting a policy that opposes some or all of the plan. There is no plan and there is no strategic advantage to be gained.

I was so proud of Mayor Gin for exercising one of the few powers a Redondo Beach mayor actually has at his disposal. He took a gutsy stand for the people of this city and vetoed approval of a wishy-washy motion that was intended to offer an alternative to the earlier motion for the council to adopt a resolution saying the city didn’t want a power plant.

As of the middle of May, 2012 there is no plan to oppose, yet a majority of our City Council voted to ask voters if they wanted to oppose the rumor that there might be a plan sometime in the future. We have no idea what, if anything, AES might offer to the community, when and if they petition the California Energy Commission to re-power the plant.

If there is an offer, that offer might be so irresistible that the only person who could oppose it would be the fictional Mr. X I interviewed above. We just don’t know and that’s the problem with following an ambitious councilman who’s willing to use a noble cause to get re-elected. As of this moment, there’s more we don’t know than we do know.

What do you think the leaders of the no powerplant movement will say if AES offers the community something everyone thinks is a reasonable solution, a plan that benefits the community so much it dismisses all opposition? “Well, we were opposing what we thought they were going to do, this is something different.”

The very possibility that outcome could happen should give people pause to think before they support half-baked ideas, even the ones that are based on noble motives.

Look closely at which members of the City Council are willing to lead the AES discussion and which members are being led by forces that have their own self interests, rather than the interests of the community, in mind.

Meanwhile, we should all be thankful we have leaders like Mayor Gin who can see beyond the noise that’s being generated by people who don’t have a handle on the bigger picture.

Zoned out

It’s so difficult to look at a group of sincere, well-meaning, fellow citizens who dedicate a lot of their time and effort to a worthwhile cause and have to point out where they’ve gone so drastically wrong. I don’t blame any of them. I blame the people they’ve chosen to follow.

When you’re being manipulated you usually don’t realize you’re being manipulated. You definitely don’t want someone pointing it out to you. I just don’t see anyone else looking at the AES Redondo Beach issue without a dense, emotional filter.

The folks who have waged war against AES have decided to take the matter of zoning into their own hands. They believe that by passing an initiative that will amend the current zoning, they can make it illegal for AES to continue operating.

But they really don’t believe that. I know this because of testimony at the recent city council meetings. One of the officials who attended the meeting (I don’t remember his name but I’m sure you can find it in the minutes) stated that the state can override local zoning and that there are instances in the past where this has happened. The Death to AES people want to make a statement.

Even though the anti-AES people claim to have raised $35,000 to get an initiative on the ballot, this process will cost the city money…our money. So if the state can nullify Redondo’s zoning changes with a swipe of the pen, why are the anti-AES people willing to spend our money to pass a meaningless initiative?

They need to make noise. Make no mistake. There’s nothing else to make noise about at the moment, nothing on the city council agenda until July, no application to the California Energy Commission until, perhaps, August.

They have no problem spending our money on a campaign whose most important result will be to get publicity for the re-election and election campaigns of two of the group’s leaders. The worst thing about it is we have no choice about whether we fund this political farce. If they get enough signatures, it’s game on.

So let’s say the initiative gets passed. We waste our hard earned money to go through the initiative process and word goes out that Redondo Beach has once again fought against development and business.

Take a look at the octagonal building. It’s the centerpiece of the Pier/Harbor complex yet it’s been vacant for almost 20 years. Why? It can’t be anything that frightens most businesses like a bad location. Go down there any Saturday or Sunday afternoon and you’ll see what I mean.

The answer is that developers and businesses learned long ago that Redondo Beach is anti-development and anti-business. Now some of our fellow residents have (in my hypothetical) taken a more extreme and frightening step in their efforts to create another Ports-O-Call Village, Utopia. A handful of citizens have spearheaded a movement that resulted in making it illegal for a legitimate, duly licensed, taxpaying, community supporting business to continue doing business in the city.

If that were to become our reality, every bar, restaurant, dry cleaner doctor and dentist office and literally any legitimately licensed business will have a genuine reason to be scared, very scared. Because the message will have gone out to them that if they suddenly fall out of favor with the wrong people, their business can be made illegal.

These are the kinds of unintended (or possibly intended) consequences that incompetent leaders fail to take into consideration before they lead their well-intentioned followers along with them off the cliff.

I stopped signing petitions in Von’s parking lot years ago when I discovered I’d supported something that the kid who shoved the clipboard in my face had completely misrepresented. I don’t want my signature and reputation on something that causes more harm than good. Do you?

All or nothing

History repeatedly proves that people who demand all or nothing wind up with nothing much more often than they get everything. Is that a reason not to ask for everything? Of course not but wise people recognize that in the end something is much better than nothing.

Measure DD was a fluke. The only thing it proved was the effectiveness of a one-sided argument. Building a Better Redondo completely dominated the conversation about zoning and voters voted accordingly.

Measure G validated my opinion about Measure DD being a fluke. BBR opposed Measure G. The ballot measure approved new zoning in the harbor that would enable some limited development. The people in the community who knew BBR and DD did not reflect the opinions of the community at-large, mobilized and got the word out that development in the harbor didn’t mean we’d soon have a waterfront that resembled Waikiki or Miami Beach. Measure G passed.

Now we have a movement, largely populated by BBR folks, that’s dominating the conversation about the power plant. In many ways they’re sticking to the DD playbook. With DD they asked voters if they approved of building time shares and high rises in the harbor.

They made the choice simple. If you want to avoid ruining our harbor support our measure to have a citizen vote on major zoning changes. If you’re in favor of destroying our quaint and charming harbor, don’t support us.

This time it’s a little different but certainly recognizable. Unless you want AES to continue polluting our air and taking up highly desirable real estate that could become home to a park, you must support us.

That simply isn’t true. Through dialogue with everyone involved, including state regulators and AES, the property owner and legally licensed operator of a power plant on that property, we might find some solution that everyone can live with.

This is bad news for fanatics. When big decisions get debated and decided by reasonable, rational people, fanatics ultimately get marginalized and largely excluded from the conversation that leads to a final solution.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Measure G. Inflexibility is great in a dictatorship but it doesn’t work in a democracy. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our federal government.

The Un-emergency

We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who have worked selflessly (That does not include everyone who’s associated with the effort. See below.)  to create awareness that the community may have an opportunity to influence the future of the AES power plant. Taking action long before anything substantial happens provides more time to get the word out that we may be able to have an impact.

This whole fictitious pitch that we need to act now to kick AES out of Redondo Beach is just a bunch of hogwash. And if someone tells you that the city council missed some prime opportunity to influence the outcome of this issue, they’re lying to you. But some people refuse to let facts get in the way of their own ambitions.

Here’s a fact. AES has not released a plan for what the company would like to do with the property it owns, let me say that again, it owns on Harbor Drive. AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft has announced some plans that appear to be in the works.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to differentiate between opinions and facts. If someone from the state or a scientist or someone with a lot of initials after their name gets up at a city council meeting and makes a statement about something like the need for power generation in Redondo Beach some time in the future…it is an opinion. It can be an expert opinion, which gives it more weight than an amateur opinion, but it’s still an opinion.

Here’s another fact. AES has not filed an application with the California Energy Commission for a new license to operate after 2018. So what deadline did the city council miss by not approving a motion to make a statement that the community opposes power generation? None whatsoever.

How could responsible leaders of a city that hopes to be taken seriously approve a motion that opposes something that doesn’t exist? They couldn’t.

One of the hardest things to do in a position of authority is to not get swept up in a wave of emotionally backed arguments, especially when the thing that people are pleading for is good, right and just. Getting rid of the power plant is all those things. But there isn’t even a plan to oppose yet. There isn’t even an application to oppose yet.

So what’s the hurry? Let me check my calendar. Maybe I missed something. City council elections are coming up early next year. I wonder if there’s any connection?

Any changes in the AES matter will come about as a result of a long, painful process. It’s like a chess game. The moves we make now will influence our future moves. There are no facts. Remember the difference between facts and opinions. There are no facts yet that make it necessary to make a move now. There are plenty of OPINIONS, but no conditions on the ground that require the city to take action.

My hat’s off to the mayor and the council members who voted to continue the agenda item that would have called for an official opposition to anything AES might be thinking about maybe doing sometime in the future. Does anyone think that kind of statement from a city run by adults is good policy? I certainly don’t.

An angry mob often has good reason to be angry but it never, ever makes informed, sound and productive decisions.


Heart of the City

Remember Heart of the City? It was a plan to demolish part of the AES Redondo Beach power plant and develop the land into something the community could use.

You’ll hear references to that plan or more accurately, that plan to make a plan. There never really was a plan. You’ll also hear that “the people” killed that concept. True, there were quite a few people who made passionate pleas to the city council about how awful it would be to develop that land. Lots of material got printed in the local press.

Those  passions were fueled by the same kinds of distorted information that turns a statistic like running at 5% capacity into running 5% of the time. Some of the well-meaning people who spoke with so much passion had been hoodwinked into believing there was a plan on the table to build 3000 condominiums. I keep trying to tell these guys, if your argument is powerful enough, it will stand on its own without the lies and distortions. They just don’t listen. That could be part of the problem.

Back to Heart of the City. What really happened was that the city council at the time, decided not to pursue zoning changes that would allow development of the site. Redondo Beach citizens never voted on it but it’s clear the public outcry contributed to the council’s decision.

I don’t remember all the details of all the potential plans but I remember one. It had a canal cut through to the AES property from King Harbor. From what I remember, there were some kind of residential buildings adjacent to the canal. It conjured images of Naples in Long Beach or Oxnard and Ventura harbors where canals wind right through residential neighborhoods.

Maybe the people who came out against Heart of the City were bitter because they realized they would never be able to afford to live there. That’s kind of pathetic. I would never be able  to afford to live in any of those place but I fully recognize how much they enhance their communities. I can still row a boat or paddle a kayak in all of those places. I have done exactly that and enjoyed it immensely.

The potential for the entire South Bay to experience and enjoy the enhancements Heart of the City would have provided was destroyed by a relatively few people who just wouldn’t consider any possible outcome other than the one they wanted. People like that scare me. I’m scared again because they’re back.

Whenever I drive or walk past the power plant I say a silent and extremely sarcastic, thank you to some of the leaders of the movement to oppose Heart of the City. I say the names to myself. I won’t use names here but I tell them thanks. Thanks for ensuring we all get to see this monstrosity every time we go past it. Thanks for ensuring it will be here for generations to come. That’s what the opponents of Heart of the City did for the South Bay.

Heart of the City was a rare opportunity to engage with AES to find a way for the community to get something other than air pollution from that nice hunk of land down by the harbor. Those opportunities don’t come around too often but it seems barely 10 years after Heart of the City, we have another one.

The all or nothing attitude prevailed last time and it didn’t get the city anything but a lot of hard feelings and wasted money. I really, really hope the citizens of this city don’t let the same narrow minded people who intimidated a group of politicians into backing away from something that could have been enormously beneficial to the community, do it all over again.

That would truly be the definition of insanity.

Zealots and leaders

You can almost excuse zealots for presenting their arguments in a slanted way and cherry picking data that supports their point of view. They’re zealots! That’s what zealots do.

Elected officials and those who aspire to elected positions in Redondo Beach should operate with a whole different set of rules. We expect leaders to have leadership qualities, which don’t include hysterics.

Let’s play a game I’ll call Suppose. Suppose the popular movement to rid the South Bay of the AES power plant prevails in getting the California Energy Commission to deny AES a new permit. That’s a pretty big “suppose” but if it were to happen there would be a specific date after which AES would cease operations.

Well, not exactly. As we’ve seen in the past, AES has the financial capability to withstand protracted legal battles. All it would take would be for the company to get a judge to issue an injunction or for some other government entity like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to override that decision. If you don’t think AES can afford to make either of those things happen, think again.

But let’s suppose the small but well-meaning group of citizens who are most vocal about kicking AES out of Redondo Beach prevail and the license is denied. You can be sure there will be back slapping and self-congratulations all around. The people who led and the people who followed will all take a bow and they will probably deserve it.

Then let’s suppose and this isn’t a big one, that AES isn’t happy with that decision. They appeal. They sue. They force the city of Redondo Beach into court and as we saw the last time Redondo did battle with AES, they cost the city a lot of money in legal fees and possibly fines.

With an annual city budget of slightly over $100 million, one, two, five or ten million dollars to go to war with AES would hurt Redondo Beach a lot more than it would hurt AES to spend the same amount of money. They’d just take a loss for a quarter and move on. We’d have to make some hard decisions.

Meanwhile, the power plant would stay right where it is – minus the smoke. A number of things could happen at the end of that process but we’re playing Suppose so let’s suppose AES gets re-licensed and the court awards damages to the company in the millions of dollars. Who loses? We all do.

Make no mistake, I don’t want the outcome I outlined above nor am I predicting that it will occur. My speculation on the future of this debate is no more or less accurate than anyone else’s. If anyone tells you they know what will or will not happen, they’re lying.

So in my game of Suppose, if AES resumes operation after the legal battles and the residents of Redondo Beach have to pony up millions of dollars, where do you think you’ll find the people who were patting themselves and their freinds on the back after they waged their ill-conceived war against AES?

They will have had plenty of time to concoct their excuses but I doubt they’ll be taking credit for the final outcome or the pain the process has caused the rest of us. That’s the problem with zealots. They rarely have leadership qualities.

True leaders aren’t afraid to consider every potential outcome and to prepare a thoughtful campaign that will produce the best possible results. Zealots reveal only one side of the equation, their side. They don’t care about things like the cost everyone else will bear to fund their conflict.

We don’t have to look too far back in our national history to find a bunch of zealots who lacked leadership qualities and were willing to drag the country into a war without considering all the possible consequences and with little consideration for the human and financial costs. We’re still suffering for that.

Our home-grown zealots are planning to drag the city into another expensive, unnecessary initiative process. Why? Because they want everything they want and they want it now. My 3 year old behaved the same way. Fortunately, he grew out of it.

The people of Redondo Beach will have a lot of impact on the direction of this debate and the final outcome. I hope my fellow citizens take the time now to separate the zealots from the leaders and do their own cherry picking from the various information and opinions that circulate on the matter.

Passion and practicality 2

Sometimes zealots feel so strongly they’re right and anyone with a differing opinion is wrong, they distort the facts. They cherry pick the information that best supports their passionate beliefs and frame the conversation in a way that makes your agreement inevitable. Have you ever listened to two politicians from opposing parties tell you why you should vote for them and found yourself wanting to vote for both candidates when they’re finished?

This is why we need moderating forces such as Mayor Gin involved to ensure the best outcome. Here are a few things I’ve been considering that haven’t really arisen in the discussions I’ve heard.

I have been told by more than one zealous power plant opponent, the AES Redondo only generates electricity 5% of the time. There’s a report that’s readily available online that actually says in 2006 AES Redondo only produced 5% of its full capacity. There’s a big difference between that fact and the assertion the plant only operated 5% of the time.

There are 4 active units at the plant. If one generating unit ran at full power every day the same capacity statistic would be 25%. That’s 1 out of the 4 units running continuously for a year. Would it be correct to say the plant only ran 25% of the time? The way I see it, it ran 100% of the time at 25% capacity.

Smoke has been pouring out of the two southern stacks day and night for nearly a month. The reason is simple. The San Onofre nuclear plant was closed down because of some serious damage. AES Redondo Beach and other steam plants have taken up the slack.

There’s talk that San Onofre may never come back on line. Even if it does get repaired, it’s license expires in 2022, just 10 years from now. It should also be noted that California’s only other nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, was shut down for 5 days at the end of April. So during that time the state’s two most powerful electrical generating facilities were off line. Alternate sources like AES Redondo continue to feed the grid to take up the slack. I haven’t been forced to read by candle light or dry my clothes on a clothesline nor have I heard of anyone else having to suffer those indignities.

Diablo Canyon has two reactors whose licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. The public’s taste for nuclear power has soured considerably since the Fukushima disaster. That and the fact Diablo Canyon and San Onofre are both old technology could seriously jeopardize the operators’ hopes of re-powering those facilities.

That means the two plants with the greatest generating capacity in the state may get removed from the grid in a little more than 10 years. So when someone tells you the little steam plant in Redondo Beach isn’t needed for California’s electrical energy future, you may want to ask whether the engineer or scientist who’s feeding you that information is taking these factors into consideration.

I’m sure you’ll get an answer to that question but you may want to do a little fact checking. The information may be coming from the same source that says the RB power plant only operates 5% of the time.

Passion and practicality

There’s a lot of passion among the south bay citizens who have spoken at recent city council meetings. It’s genuine and it’s commendable.

Passion will attract attention to a cause like opposing re-licensing AES Redondo Beach. Strong feelings can get the process started. Passion and zealousness won’t get the heavy lifting done. That requires informed, thoughtful and diligent effort among people with a great deal of experience and knowledge.

Nothing can interfere with the successful completion of this process more surely than the contributions, however well intentioned, of passionate zealots. Unfortunately, they never recognize when it’s time to hand the reins over to the passionless professionals