Mayor Flynn opines on NRG Mandalay power plants 2017 shutdown

By George Miller

Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn got back to us belatedly, today, on the upcoming NRG Mandalay power plants shutdown, well after our deadline on our Mandalay Plant shutdown article last week.

Not long after two California Energy Commission members put out a bulletin on their own saying they intended to vote against the project, NRG tried to quietly suspend the application. But The LA Times learned about it and published an article. Then, last week, NRG pulled the plug on the plants, accelerating the Mandalay plants’ shutdown to this year and not committing beyond September of 2018 for the two larger Ormond Beach plants’ operation.


Existing vintage 1959 NRG Mandalay Beach power plant (Photo:

Basically, Flynn is happy that they’re shutting down, says that plants have served their purpose for a half century, they’re obsolete and inefficient now, unsuitable as peaker plant and, Oxnard all the while has done the heavy lifting by hosting all regional power plants.

The Mayor believes that NRG should remove them at its own expense, since it has profited from them, should have built that into their cost of doing business and that retrofitting them wasn’t cost-effective. As far as we know, no agreement has ever considered those costs or that course of action. NRG told us that it has no obligation or intention to dismantle them– UNLESS the Puente Project is approved

Flynn believes that as a good corporate Citizen, NRG should feel obligated to remove the plants and environmentally remediate the sites. He also said that having those abandoned plants  on the beach would be bad PR. A similar situation exists in St. Louis Obispo. The question now is whether  there is any win-win course of action. Oxnard refused any negotiations with NRG during the project and basically burned their own puente in the process.  In our conversation today, we discussed some ideas such as local renewable energy projects, land swaps and more, to help incentivize plant dismantling.

Never discussed was the bankruptcy of the plants’ operator and wholly-owned NRG subsidiary GenON and what complications that would add to the situation. If NRG totally loses out on the project, they have little incentive to tear the old plants down. 

Flynn doesn’t want a plant on the coast and also feels that aesthetics and land use were the most important criteria in all this. Other opponents stressed health, social/environmental justice arguments. He has never been shy about saying that the beach is by far Oxnard’s greatest asset, which is underutilized and “blighted” by industry (power generation, petroleum, toxic waste and other sites).

He believes that a nearby Santa Paula proposal could have been close in cost to the Oxnard Mandalay Beach “Puente Project” proposals since both have gas and transmission line infrastructure nearby (Flynn said within a mile for Santa Paula, on-site at Mandalay). But there is much additional infrastructure at Mandalay. It also looks like NRG may have proposed the cheapest possible power generation equipment which met regulatory requirements. I asked NRG last year how they arrived at this and what the alternatives were, but they were unwilling to talk about it.

At this point, it is unknown what NRG will do in the future. It appears that they are taking steps to cut their losses. Before further moves, they want to see the California Energy Commission’s specifics on how two members, in what we are told is an unprecedented move, came to the conclusion and publicly announced that the project should not move forward.

Flynn seems to view the project denial as basically a done deal. He described it as a “David (Oxnard) vs Goliath battle” in which Oxnard alone bested one of the most powerful energy companies in the world. Of course it actually came down differently, with all public officials who opined opposed to the project, most NGO’s and 75% of the public.

The fact remains is that the study which triggered the request for bid for the project calculated that baseline fossil fuel power plants would still be needed while renewables technology matured. They placed  a new potential source in Ventura County not only for aggregate capacity, but to have backup in this portion of the far end of the regional grid. Fossil fuel opponents contested this and also said that various factors contributed to an overbuilding of capacity and that the Mandalay unit would consequently not be needed. They also maintained that renewable energy plants are feasible to meet the need, but only technologically, not financially, which they did not opine on.


NRG subsidiary to shut down Oxnard Mandalay power plants this year

NRG subsidiary to shut down Oxnard Mandalay power plants this year

By George Miller- NRG Communications Director David Knox, in an interview with today, told us that GenOn, a wholly-owned NRG subsidiary which owns the Mandalay and Ormond Beach power generation plants, will be shutting down all three Mandalay units at the end of this year. READ FILING: Mandalay Retirement. They will be placing the units […]

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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Jeff McVicker

Today, it came out that SCE cancelled its contract with NRG to buy power from Mandalay a couple of weeks ago and the NRG subsidiary that owns the power plant is in bankruptcy.
There seems to be even more to this story.