Los Angeles approves two deals for new solar power production

The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously approved two long-term solar power purchase agreements, which had already been approved by the city’s Board of Water and Power Commissioners.

The agreements are for 460 MW of clean solar power, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) noted in a Nov. 21 statement. Combined with a new LADWP-owned property that will support a 250-MW solar array planned in Kern County, Calif., and a commitment to procure 150 MW from rooftops in the city through the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) program, the three solar projects  and FiT program will provide enough green energy annually to serve about 331,000 Los Angeles households.

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 Council’s action continues the transformation of the city’s energy supply,” said LADWP. “Long reliant on coal power, the two agreements move LADWP further away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward cleaner, more sustainable and renewable energy sources. In the next decade, LADWP will completely replace over 70% of its power supply to eliminate coal through a combination of increasing energy efficiency [to replace at least 10% of the city’s power demand], expanding renewable energy to 33% by 2020, completely eliminating the use of ocean water cooling at its three coastal power plants, and balancing the new energy mix with cleaner and more efficient natural gas, all while maintaining system reliability.”

“This is a defining moment for our City’s economic and environmental future,” said Mayor Antonio 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. If you want proof that environmental progress and economic growth go hand in hand, look no further than today’s action. We are shaking our fossil fuel addiction.”

“Through projects like this, the LADWP is on track to reduce its reliance on coal power and increase its supply of solar and other renewable energy,” said Councilmember José Huizar, Chair of the City Council Energy and Environment Committee. “Combined, these solar projects will prevent about 1.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.”

Solar contracts are with K Road and Sempra

The council approved a 25-year contract with K Road Moapa Solar LLC (K Road) for up to 250 MW of power, representing about 706,650 megawatt-hours. 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, Nev.

The second agreement is for 210 MW of power from the 250-MW Copper Mountain Solar 3 project, which will be developed by an affiliate of Sempra U.S. Gas and Power and is located near Boulder City, Nev. 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.

In a concurrent effort, LADWP 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 Commissioner. Permitting is complete, and the project is expected to close escrow by the end of 2012, said LADWP’s Nov. 21 statement. The Beacon project will be cost effective because the city is 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.

LADWP plans to divest Navajo coal stake, convert Intermountain to gas

LADWP on Oct. 5 released a draft integrated resource plan that outlined how it plans to get off of coal-fired power by exiting its investment in the Navajo power plant in Arizona by 2015 and working with other participants in the Intermountain coal plant in Utah to convert the facility next decade to natural gas.

“Currently, 42 percent of the energy delivered to LADWP customers is generated from two coal-fired generating stations: the Intermountain Power Project (IPP), located in Utah, and the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), located in Arizona,” said the draft plan. “The NGS’s land lease expires in December 2019 and IPP’s contract is in effect until June 2027. Although these stations provide dependable, low cost base load generation to Los Angeles, they emit about twice as much CO2 as energy generated with natural gas. Accordingly, this 2012 IRP focuses on early coal replacement options as a means to lower LADWP’s CO2 emission levels.”

IPP consists of two generating units with a combined capacity of 1,800 MW. LADWP is the operating agent. LADWP is also the largest single purchaser and has a power purchase agreement for 44.6% (803 MW) of IPP’s total output. LADWP has purchase obligations for up to 22.2% (399 MW) of additional output. These extra obligations are dependent on the power usage of the Utah and Nevada project participants. The power sales contract for IPP expires in 2027. The owner of IPP is IPA, a separate entity and a political subdivision of the state of Utah.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.