Coastal power plants get dramatic upgrades, but how do they fit with California’s renewable energy future?

Up and down the California coast, aging power plants are being replaced by sleeker, more efficient and more environmentally sensitive units — or are being shut down altogether.

In Los Angeles and Orange County alone, there are seven natural gas-fired coastal plants, with work underway or completed on six and the seventh scheduled for closure. The construction — with cranes towering more than 15 stories — offers a dramatic scene to the many passersby.

Critics argue that despite reduced emissions and technology that eliminates ocean impacts, the new units are being made obsolete by renewable energy.

Nonetheless, the changes are occurring with relatively little controversy for large-scale industrial projects on prime real estate.

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