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Los Angeles City Council gives green light to large solar projects

From the November 27, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published November 27, 2012

By Jeannine Anderson
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved two long-term solar power purchasing agreements for 460 megawatts of solar power, after the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved the purchase agreements.

The two agreements move the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — long reliant on coal-fired power plants — farther away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward cleaner, more sustainable and renewable energy sources, the utility said.  In the next decade, LADWP plans to replace more than 70% of its power supply to eliminate coal-fired electricity. 

"This is a defining moment for our city’s economic and environmental future," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. "Not only will these commitments create hundreds of green jobs, they will further bolster Los Angeles as a national leader in making the successful, cost-efficient transition to renewable energy."

The City Council on Nov. 20 approved a 25-year contract with K Road Moapa Solar, LLC (K Road) for up to 250 megawatts of power, representing about 706,650 megawatt-hours – enough energy to power about 118,000 Los Angeles households. LADWP will be the sole recipient of solar power from K Road, which will be located on Moapa Band of Paiute Indians tribal land north of Las Vegas.

The second agreement, also approved on Nov. 20, is for 210 megawatts of power from the 250-MW Copper Mountain Solar 3 project near Boulder City, Nev., which will be developed by an affiliate of Sempra U.S. Gas and Power. The Copper Mountain Solar project will provide enough power to serve 75,000 Los Angeles homes. Both projects are scheduled to be completed and delivering solar power to Los Angeles by the end of 2015. LADWP has options to own both projects before the termination dates.

"These are among the largest solar projects of any public utility in the nation and a major step forward in our efforts to secure more renewable energy in a cost-effective manner," said LADWP General Manager Ronald O. Nichols.  

Combined with a new LADWP-owned property that will support a 250-MW solar array planned in Kern County, Caiif.,  and a commitment to procure 150 MW from rooftops in the city through a feed-in-tariff program,  the newly approved solar projects  will provide enough green energy annually to serve approximately  331,000 Los Angeles households, the city-owned utility said.  Through these projects, Los Angeles "will take a major step in achieving its goals of 25% renewable power by 2016 and 33% by 2020," the city said.

LADWP also has moved to acquire a 2,500-acre site from Beacon Solar LLC to develop a 250-MW solar project adjacent to LADWP’s Pine Tree Wind Plant and its Barren Ridge Switching Station in Kern County.  Acquisition of the property was approved in September by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. 

"The Beacon project is a perfect opportunity for large-scale solar that will create hundreds of green jobs in California," Nichols said. "It will be cost-effective because we are using the existing Barren Ridge Switching Station as well as LADWP’s nearby transmission lines that are being upgraded as part of the Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project to bring the power home to L.A."


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