AES Huntington Beach logo Links to CEC Processes, Mor Info and Join Us CES Processes Brochure Join Us form

Project Updates

October 12, 2019

Dear neighbor,

We have received a number of calls and emails regarding the startup activities at the AES Huntington Beach Energy Project (HBEP).  We hear you and want you to know that we take your concerns very seriously. 

We would like to address a few of your concerns. We fired up the first turbine on October 4 and the second and final turbine on October 11. This is the part of the process where we need to test the systems for the first time in order to bring on the pollution control equipment.  This is called "early commissioning."  It will be over by October 26 at the latest.   

During some of the initial commissioning, our neighbors may have experienced increased noise, a brief period of odor, and visible air emissions (sometimes called "plumes") from the new stacks.  This is temporary and not part of normal operations.

These temporary conditions are part of a very short but necessary period to bring the systems online.  The commissioning activities happening now were permitted by the California Energy Commission and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).  AES' air permit allows for emissions without controlled measures in place during the short start-up period.  As part of the multi-year permitting process, it was established that the start-up activities will not cause significant risks with respect to air quality.

Unfortunately, two notices of violation (NOVs) were received at HBEP over the last week by the SCAQMD. These NOVs did not relate to air pollution; they were about the shade of the plumes (referred to as "opacity").  AES understood these plumes as being covered by its air permit.  To make sure the issue was completely resolved, AES went to the SCAQMD and received an approval (called a "variance") that exempts AES from the opacity rules during the short start-up period.  During this short period, AES will be monitoring the plumes at all times and reporting to the SCAQMD every hour that the plumes reach a certain level of darkness. 

The early start-up process has two main phases: the first is "first fire" and second is the "steam blow" phase.  When the turbine is started up, for the first approximately 30 minutes you may have seen a plume from the new stack that appeared whitish in color as the residual material in the boiler is burned off.  This residual material consists of dust or dirt and oily residue left over from the manufacturing and construction process.  During that first start up, there may be an odor.  It is similar to when a new oven is turned on for the first time.  Again, this lasts only a half hour or so. 

After the first few minutes of start up, you may now and then see plumes from the stacks that appear to be a shade of yellow in color.  This largely consists of oxides of nitrogen that are caused by the combustion of natural gas.  The plumes will only last for a short temporary period while AES brings on the pollution control systems.  Again, the air emissions during this period will not exceed acceptable levels of risk or air quality standards.

In addition, during the steam blow phase, you may see steam plumes from a different part of the plant.  These don't come from stacks.  These are just puffs of water-based steam, different from the startup plumes from the stacks.  These blows are very loud, but they will only occur intermittently throughout the early start-up process.  Steam blows may occur 24 hours per day in a close-loop cycle. However, open air Steam Blows will occur intermittently between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. This creates a large steam plume and is louder than the close-loop cycle blows. A loud hissing sound will be heard during open air Steam Blows; however, both close-loop and open blow Steam Blows will create some noise.
I want to reiterate that this is temporary.  This will not be part of normal operations. Once in operation, the new power plant will be much better and cleaner because the plants built in the 1950s will be replaced by new technology that will reduce emissions and environmental impacts and provide for greater electrical reliability.  So please pardon any temporary disturbance while we bring these new plants online.

For more information, please visit us at   If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at or (888) 372-5633.  You can also report any concerns at 1-800-CUT SMOG (1-800-288-7664).

Dalia Gomez
(888) 372-5633

August 30, 2019


We are now about 95% complete with construction of the Huntington Beach Energy Project (HBEP) and preparing for the next phase of the project, commissioning and start-up activities.

In the commissioning phase all critical systems and components of the new plant, from high-voltage electrical systems to pumps, fans and compressors will be tested and 'commissioned' to insure they meet their design specifications and can operate safely and effectively. Cold commissioning, which has been going on since January, ensures that all equipment is fitted, connected and operating correctly within the HBEP. Hot commissioning is the first start up and testing of the plant with fuel (natural gas). This will be the 'first fire' of the new plant, the first time that natural gas is combusted in the gas turbines and the first time steam is produced to clean and test the entire steam system in the plant. Hot commissioning of the HBEP will include, first fire of the gas turbines, Steam Blows, Steam Purity Run, and the Initial Steam Turbine Run before the final performance testing of the entire plant.

Timeline image

To learn more about commissioning and start-up activities, click here for the More Info page, where you will find the HBEP Commissioning and Start-Up Activities Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


Dalia Gomez
AES Community and Public Affairs Manager

Construction Timeline