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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.

One thought on “Passion and practicality 2

  1. Jim Light

    Actually Harry, if you listened to the April Council meeting on the power plant, you would have heard Bill Brand ask an independent power consultant who studied our section of the power grid whether we need the Redondo Plant if the San Onofre plant was permanently retired. She staked her professional reputation on the answer that AES Redondo is not required. Even the CPUC rep stated there is sufficient capacity in our area to shut down some of the Once Through Cooling power generation capacity.

    After spending the money to put two new generators at the San Onofre plant, it is highly unlikely that they will abandon them over a steam pipe problem. There is a long time to get San Onofre back on line between right now and 2020 when AES Redondo must either build a new plant or dramatically change the current plant to meet new state requirements. Despite some near record hot days, AES Redondo did not even power up for nearly two months after the San Onofre plant was shut down for evaluation and repair.

    We don’t need the AES power plant. Time to shut it down for good.


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