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The massive array of power lines that extend away from the AES power plant in Redondo Beach and head east along 190th Street could become a thing of the past soon after the generating station is decommissioned at the end of 2020, which an AES spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed was still the company’s intention.

Southern California Edison, the company that owns two sets of distribution lines leading from the power plant, issued a feasibility study to the city on Aug. 26, indicating that once the power plant shuts down, the company was willing to remove the largest set of lines west of North Beryl Street, which is the Redondo Beach boundary, at no cost to the city.

It would also remove for free the smaller set of lines up to Prospect Avenue, the company indicated.

The city would be responsible for the cost of removing or relocating the rest of the lines at roughly $6.1 million to $7.9 million depending on the chosen option. An additional $10.7 million could be needed from the city for additional work related to power distribution, according to the report.

The power lines, in existence since the plant was built in the 1950s, have been an eyesore for Redondo Beach residents but one they have just needed to live with. Nurseries and a dog park are some of the uses currently on the land under the lines, but without the utility lines, more park land is a possibility.

“This is big news,” Mayor Bill Brand said on Wednesday. “I have been fighting for this for years.”

The process of completely removing or relocating the power lines would take an estimated 38 months to complete, according to the report, though much of the work such as planning can occur before the plant officially shuts down. The actual construction to underground or relocate some of the lines would last about a year.

In the study, announced by Brand at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, SCE presented three options that included burying the lines underground, relocating them or a combination of both. Two substations would also be removed.

Brand said once the power lines come down, property values would increase when homes gain a clear view to the ocean, opening views of Santa Monica Bay that were marred by utility lines for decades.

“It’s going to transform that whole area of the South Bay,” Brand said. “Instead of that incredibly ugly hulking power plant and power line cluster, we are going to be able to see the ocean and a park.”

There is a chance, however, the plant could continue operating until the end of 2021, a decision that will ultimately fall on the California Independent Systems Operator (CISO) that manages the power grid, according to SCE spokesman Robert Villegas.

Based on a state law, all power plants that use ocean water for cooling must shut down or retrofit by the end of 2020, but that deadline can be extended by CISO based on “grid reliability needs,” Villegas said, though a decision has not been made yet.

Sale of the AES power plant by proposed buyer Leo Pustilnikov and his company, Next Century Power, are still in escrow. Pustilnikov has already extended an offer to sell the city half of the 50-acre property for parkland. The city is still waiting to see how much, if any, money it will receive from Prop. 68 Parks and Water Bond Act of 2018.

What will happen to the other half is yet unknown, though some type of development — a combination of office space, restaurants, retail and a small hotel — are likely, according to Pustilnikov.  

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