If the famous surf is Huntington Beach’s heart and soul, the towering electricity stacks on Pacific Coast Highway would be ... the city’s appendix? An eyesore for some, a landmark for others, the decades-old units are on deck to be demolished as part of a clean-energy project.
This iconic eye-sore will one day be history.
In response to new state requirements, AES Huntington Beach, whose parent company operates power plants around the globe, has submitted plans to replace the famed units with a cleaner, more controllable and more energy-efficient natural-gas power plant. The change in technology will ultimately mean greater electricity production while simultaneously diminishing our impact on the environment.
“A modern natural-gas power plant can precisely control and adjust output and be started and stopped within minutes, enabling a consistent, dependable supply of electricity to balance renewable energy,” an AES representative explained.
Improving the facility will mean lower costs to consumers and create 3 million hours of construction-related work.
But it’s the long-term positive environmental impact provided by modern plants that makes the project so important. In addition to more refined control of resources, the cleaner energy plant will create less harmful emissions, eliminate the use of ocean water and, above all, create more while using less.
The facility has long been a talking point of the HB Surfrider Foundation for allegedly creating the most pollution in Orange County – about 1.7 million pounds of pollutants annually. AES contends that its Huntington Beach plant accounts for 1 percent of Southern California’s overall pollution. Whichever you believe, the new facility will essentially eliminate its footprint altogether.
It’ll be a bittersweet farewell to what has been a beacon for boaters, motorists and residents, a coastal monument to human industry often juxtaposed against the orange glow of Orange County’s world-class sunsets.
QUICK FACT: Taller industrial smokestacks produce greater draft than do shorter stacks; greater draft, in turn, increases the rate at which the gaseous products of combustion are expelled.