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THE BEACH REPORTER: Lieu wants voters to have a say in power plant's future
May 03, 2012
At a press conference hosted by NoPowerPlant.com and Building a Better Redondo, state Sen. Ted Lieu told attendees he believes residents should be able to have an initiative saying they don't want a new power plant.
"This power plant issue is of monumental importance to Redondo Beach and the surrounding Beach Cities," Lieu said on April 27. "The decision as to whether to have a new power plant will affect residents for generations, and because it is so important, I believe the voters should have a say in the process, and that's why I support a voter initiative to let the residents of Redondo Beach decide whether they want to have a new power plant."
Lieu said he was aware of studies showing that a new power plant is not necessary for grid reliability. And now that once-through cooling, a process that uses nearby ocean water to cool equipment and components, is banned, he said, "there is really no policy reason to have a power plant along the coast."
AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft expressed a different view.
"The ballot initiative will do little more than stall progress, cost the city money and increase the probability that the existing structures remain in place, which is something none of us want," Pendergraft said. "We think the voters have spoken on this issue a number of times and our current plans respect their decisions. The passage of Measure G confirmed that the community supports a revitalized waterfront and moderate development. Our solution leaves 75 percent of the site available for non-industrial uses at no cost to taxpayers and without the need for high density."
While Lieu was clear that he thinks residents should be able to vote for their interests, he said he does not know yet "what I would do personally if I were a voter in Redondo Beach." Lieu said he felt the issue is whether or not the plant is necessary.
"There have been studies showing the plant is not needed, and unless I'm given other studies that show actually a plant is needed, then I will likely side with the view that the plant is not needed," he said. "But I will give some time and opportunity for folks to bring in the opposing viewpoint."
Representatives from AES have met with Lieu in the past, and Pendergraft said the company will set up future meetings with Lieu, as well as with Jane Harman and Janice Hahn.
Redondo Beach City Councilman Bill Brand said he was thankful to Sen. Lieu for "supporting the residents' right to the initiative process . . . and the legal right the residents have to petition their own government."
NoPowerPlant.com's Lezlie Campeggi said that NoPowerPlant.com and Building a Better Redondo want to "ensure that the residents have a real, direct and binding say regarding the future of the AES power plant site."
The organizations are in the process of writing a zoning initiative to phase out power plant operations by the year 2020, Campeggi said, and they'll be gathering signatures this summer in hopes of qualifying for the March 2013 ballot and election
NoPowerPlant.com has held two public meetings on its initiative so far and will have its final public meeting on Saturday, May 5, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel's Ocean Room at 3 p.m.