While residents and city officials may not have been thrilled about
the plant, it was an accepted evil under Edison, they said.
"[Southern California Edison] only operated two units so you lived
with it," said City Councilman Ralph Bauer. "Our relation was fairly
benign because it was there a long time."
Then in 1997 Edison decided to get out of the business of making power
and sold the plant to AES.
"Here comes AES, headquartered in Virginia, a very large international
company," Bauer said. "They were not as well known to us and when you
come to small-town USA, we expect some pleasantness and the neighborly
things. They still don't have a [public relations] person. A large
corporation comes to a small town and doesn't know what being a good
neighbor is all about."
Edison, on the other hand, was a local company with an excellent
public relations department, Bauer said.
AES plant manager Ed Blackford contends that it is an unfair
"Edison provided stable jobs for generations -- they built that
reputation over decades," he said. "Clearly AES has only been here three
and a half years, so I think it's unfair for anyone to expect us to have
the same persona."
In the many years that Edison ran the plant, it was well known in the
community for its good deeds.
"Edison, they have the park along Magnolia -- that was a nice little
thing and Edison still maintains that," said John Scott, president of the
Southeast Huntington Beach Neighborhood Assn. "They did the animal-care
center and donated money to operate and landscape it -- that certainly is
something that the neighborhood benefits by."
"I can't think of anything but pollution we've gotten from [AES] so
far," he added.
The reason for that, Blackford said, is that AES does not advertise
its good deeds. It does not contribute to organizations and causes for
the recognition but it has been active, he said.
"We've participated in the effort to redo the pool at Huntington High
School," Blackford said. "We contributed toward resurfacing tennis courts
at Edison High School and we've participated to lesser degree by