After a bruising campaign that saw energy company AES spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, Redondo Beach voters have rejected a local ballot initiative that would have rezoned AES's beachfront power plant to parks and commercial uses.

AES still must receive California Energy Commission approval to rebuild the plant, which must stop using ocean water to cool its steam turbines no later than 2020. Defeat of Measure A, however, makes CEC approval of continuing power plant operations more likely.

A group of local residents – many of whom were also involved in the plan to kill the "Heart of the City" development plan a decade ago – placed Measure A on the ballot. The zone change could have been overruled by the Energy Commission but that would have been unlikely.

"We don't understand why anybody would support building industrial blight in the harbor when we're trying to invest hundreds of millions in the revitalization of the harbor," Measure A supporter and City Council candidate Jim Light told the Daily Breeze. Light now faces Measure A opponent Jeff Ginsburg in a runoff election in May for the city council seat in District 1, located near the power plant.

Measure A lost by a vote of 53%-47%. The initiative lost in every City Council district in the city except District 2, where the power plant is located. About 54% of the voters in District 2 supported Measure A. Even in District 2, however, mail voters supported the measure while precinct voters opposed it. The City Council and the Chamber of Commerce opposed the measure.

The initiative's backers spent about $80,000 on their campaign, while the opponents spent more than $330,000, virtually of which came from AES.