Project Status: Licensed; In Compliance Phase.
Operational: Unit 3 - July 31, 2002
Operational: Unit 4 - August 7, 2003

The California Energy Commission approved this project's Application For Certification on May 10, 2001. The Commission monitors the power plant's construction, operation and eventual decommissioning through a compliance proceeding.

Key Dates

  • 12/1/2000 - Application for Certification (AFC) filed
  • 2/7/2001 - Commission accepts AFC as "data adequate."
  • 5/10/2001 - Commission approves Application for Certification.
  • 7/31/2002 - Unit 3 on line and producing power.
  • 8/7/2003 - Unit 4 on line and producing power.

General Description of Project

From the time of Energy Commission approval in 2001 until 2012, the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station Retool Project operated as a nominal 450 megawatt (MW), natural gas-fired boiler at the existing Huntington Beach Generating Station (HBGS) located in the City of Huntington Beach, in Orange County. The 12-acre site is located at 21730 Newland Street, southeast of the intersection of Newland Street and the Pacific Coast Highway, and about 600 feet east of the Pacific Ocean across the Pacific Coast Highway.

AES retooled and operated Units 3 and 4, which had previously been out of service since 1995. The steam turbine generators were rebuilt with new natural gas burners, a burner management system, and new draft fans. In addition to the boiler retooling, AES added Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) equipment for emissions control in restoring the units to service.

The Retool Project was built entirely within the boundaries of the existing HBGS. No additional transmission lines or related transmission facilities were required. It used an existing 230 kilovolt (kV) switchyard owned by SCE and natural gas supplied by the Southern California Gas Company via an existing 30-inch diameter pipeline. No changes to the pipeline or onsite connection to the pipeline were required.

The project used once-through circulating water from the Pacific Ocean for cooling, while process water for steam generation and potable water for domestic needs were supplied by the City of Huntington Beach via existing city water mains. The retooled Units 3 and 4 discharged circulating cooling water, plant low volume waste streams such as water softener regeneration brines, and storm water to the Pacific Ocean, under the provisions of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

In 2012, AES obtained approval to convert the retooled Units 3 and 4 to synchronous condensers to provide voltage support to the Los Angeles basin that the California System Operator (CAISO) deemed necessary. Fuel combustion no longer occurs at the units and the steam turbines are decoupled from the electric generators so that they function as electric motors and absorb reactive power as required by the transmission grid.

Energy Commission Facility Certification Process

The California Energy Commission is the lead agency (for licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts and larger) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and has a certified regulatory program under CEQA. Under its certified program, the Energy Commission is exempt from having to prepare an environmental impact report. Its certified program, however, does require environmental analysis of the project, including an analysis of alternatives and mitigation measures to minimize any significant adverse effect the project may have on the environment.

For Questions about this Certification Proceeding Contact:

Joe Douglas
Compliance Project Manager
Siting, Transmission and Environmental Protection (STEP) Division
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-2000
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-956-9527

For Questions About Public Participation In Certification Proceedings Contact:

Public Advisor
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-12 Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-654-4489
Toll-Free in California: 1-800-822-6228

News Media Please Contact:

Media & Public Communications Office
Phone: 916-654-4989