“In an era when California is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity is still primarily produced by burning carbon dioxide generating fossil fuels, using more power to generate a water supply is the wrong approach,” Garamendi wrote.
Poseidon intends its Huntington Beach plant to take seawater drawn in by the neighboring AES power plant and desalinate 127 million gallons a day. The cooling method used by AES, known as once-through cooling, involves taking in ocean water and releasing it back to the ocean after a single cycle of cooling.
Many environmentalists have decried the method as harmful to animal and plant life, and Enesta Jones, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the organization planned to issue a proposed rule on cooling systems next year. State Sen. Ellen Corbett introduced a bill this year aiming to phase out once-through cooling in power plants, although the bill stalled in committee and did not reach the Legislature.
Poseidon spokesman Brian Lochrie, though, said the company hadn’t changed its plans for Huntington Beach. The amount of water the Poseidon plant would need for desalination, he said, is far less than the amount the AES plant brings in, and if the power plant were forced to shut down its system, Poseidon would submit an application to draw in its own water.
In addition, Lochrie said, having a desalination plant in Orange County would reduce the region’s dependence on imported drinking water, especially during a drought.
“That wouldn’t solve the drought on its own, but it would be another arrow in the quiver,” he said. “It would be another water resource Orange County would have.”