- Docket Number
- 450 MW
- Orange County
- Simple Cycle
- Project Status
- Operational (Natural Gas-Fired)
- Project Type
- Application for Certification
The Huntington Beach Generating Station (HBGS) is in the City of Huntington Beach, Orange County, California. The 12-acre site is 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. The HBGS operations predated California Energy Commission (CEC) approval authority.
In 2001, AES (project owner) received CEC approval to retool and operate 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 equipment for emissions control in restoring the units to service. From 2001 until 2012, the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station Retool Project (Retool) operated as a nominal 450-megawatt (MW), natural gas-fired boiler at the existing HBGS.
No additional transmission lines or related transmission facilities were required. The project used an existing 230 kilovolt switchyard owned by Southern California Edison 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 Retool 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, 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 CEC approval to convert the retooled Units 3 and 4 to synchronous condensers to provide voltage support to the Los Angeles basin that the California Independent System Operator deemed necessary. Fuel combustion ceased at the units and the steam turbines were decoupled from the electric generators so that they functioned as electric motors and absorbed reactive power as required by the transmission grid.
Units 3 and 4 have been shut down for approximately three years. The units are still in place and are planned for demolition in the next few years. HBGS Units 1 and 2 are also still in place. Unit 1 was retired in approximately December 2019 to facilitate the first fire and commercial operation of the new Huntington Beach Energy Project combined cycle units. HBGS Unit 2 is still in commercial operation as a legacy unit and has an extension to operate through the end of 2023, issued by the California State Water Boards. Unit 2 continues to run to support peak demands and has a net output capacity of 225 MW.
Power Plant Certification and Exemption Processes
The CEC has the exclusive authority to certify all thermal power plants 50 megawatts (MW) and larger and related facilities proposed for construction in California. The Application for Certification (AFC) process is a certified regulatory program under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As a certified regulatory program, the CEC does not prepare environmental impact reports (EIRs) in an AFC proceeding, but instead prepares environmental assessment documents that are functionally equivalent to EIRs. A certificate issued by the CEC is in lieu of any permit, certificate, or similar document otherwise required by any state, local or regional agency, or federal agency to the extent permitted by federal law, and supersedes any applicable statute, ordinance, or regulation of any state, local, or regional agency, or federal agency to the extent permitted by federal law.