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88% of construction on Huntington Beach’s new power plant is complete, AES says

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AES new Huntington Beach power plant, depicted in this rendering, will have a design intended to fit with the city’s surf culture.
(Courtesy of AES)

More than 88% of construction work for Huntington Beach’s new power plant is complete, according to operator AES, which says it is preparing to test the plant’s components over the next few months.

The testing will be in preparation for “the first start-up of the combustion turbines taking place this fall,” AES spokeswoman Dalia Gomez wrote in a June 6 email to area residents.

“During system start-up activities, all critical systems and components of the new plant, from high-voltage electrical systems to pumps, fans and compressors, will be tested to ensure they meet their design specifications and can operate safely and effectively before we start up the entire plant,” Gomez wrote.

AES is replacing the 1950s-era seaside plant at 21730 Newland St. with a new, modernized one that the electric utility company says will include several improvements, including using air instead of sea water to cool the plant.

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The new plant — which is expected to go live in 2020 — is intended to produce up to 844 megawatts of energy, enough to power 675,000 to 844,000 households at a time. The current plant generates 450 megawatts, enough to power about 400,000 homes, according to the AES website.

The final product also will include a sleeker design intended to fit with Huntington Beach’s surf culture.

AES made many advancements during the first half of this year, according to Gomez.

“We completed successful leak tests of the heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) and pressure testing of the air-cooled condenser (ACC),” Gomez wrote. “A new natural gas line tie-in for the plant has been installed, and we have connected the high-voltage power lines that will transfer the power generated at the plant to the regional electrical grid.”

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As the plant inches closer to completion, community meetings will be scheduled in August, Gomez said Wednesday.

AES bought the existing plant from Southern California Edison in 1998. The California Energy Commission authorized the license for the new facility in 2017.

AES has a contract to provide energy to Edison from a new 644-megawatt generator. There is not yet a purchasing agreement for two planned 100-megawatt generators. Gomez has said they won’t be built if they can’t be contracted.

For more information, call the project hotline at (888) 372-5633 or email talk@renewaeshuntington.com.

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