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AES’ new Huntington Beach power plant completes another phase of commissioning

AES’ new Huntington Beach power plant is in the commissioning process at Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway.
AES’ new Huntington Beach power plant is in the commissioning process at Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

AES announced that the latest phase of commissioning for its new Huntington Beach power plant — the steam purity run — is complete and that the initial steam turbine run — which is slated to last one to two weeks — is underway as the utility company works to bring the plant online early next year.

Neighbors may experience noise levels “above normal for the area” and may see white plumes, AES said in an update last week.

The last stages of the commissioning — combined cycle tuning and a performance run — are estimated to take up to six weeks.

Required testing to demonstrate that noise levels meet permit requirements is anticipated to be done sometime this month, AES said.

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In October, residents expressed concerns about noise and yellow and orange plumes coming from the plant near Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway during the steam blow phase of commissioning, in which natural gas is combusted in gas turbines to create high-pressure steam to clean the main pipes. AES said the noise and plumes were a temporary and normal part of the commissioning process.

The same month, AES received two notices of violation from the South Coast Air Quality Management District over the opacity of plumes emitted from the plant’s two stacks during the start-up activities.

AES said at the time that opacity issues would be resolved as the commissioning progresses and pollution control equipment is brought online.

“Once in operation, the new power plant will be much more efficient, will reduce emissions and environmental impacts and provide for greater electrical reliability” than the 1950s-era boilers of the existing plant at 21730 Newland St., which the new plant will replace, according to the AES website.

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The existing facility generates 450 megawatts of energy, enough to power more than 400,000 homes and businesses, according to AES.

The new, modernized facility is intended to produce up to 844 megawatts of energy, enough to power 675,000 to 844,000 households at a time, and will include several changes, including using air instead of seawater to cool the plant.

For more information, visit renewaeshuntington.com. Residents can report any concerns to (800) 288-7664.

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