Los Angeles starts getting power from Nevada geothermal project

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) said Jan. 6 that Angelenos are now receiving clean, reliable and renewable geothermal power from a new geothermal power plant in Nevada. 

The Don A. Campbell Geothermal Power Plant in Mineral County, Nev., formerly called Wild Rose, was completed ahead of schedule and is producing its full capacity of 16 MW, of which LADWP receives 14 MW. The City of Burbank Water and Power receives the remaining 2 MW.

“We are extremely pleased that the Don A. Campbell Geothermal Power Plant has met this historic milestone. Geothermal energy is an incredibly vital renewable resource to have in our power portfolio because it generates power continuously, so we can rely on it for base load renewable power, 24/7,” said Aram Benyamin, LADWP’s Senior Assistant General Manager–Power. “This is an essential element of our power supply transformation as we transition from coal power to greater reliance on renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Under a fixed-price 20-year power sales agreement with the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), LADWP receives 85% of the plant’s output, representing 114 gigawatt-hours annually. The Don A. Campbell facility, developed by Ormat Technologies, is delivering power from Nevada through NV Energy’s One Nevada Transmission Line, which was recently placed in service.

“The Don A. Campbell Geothermal Power Plant provides a long-term, reliable renewable power supply for Los Angeles,” Benyamin said. “Given the advantages of geothermal energy and the way it will interconnect with LADWP’s transmission system, this is a very good fit for L.A.”

The plant is expected to produce power at 95% or more of its capacity year-round – a higher capacity than typical wind or solar renewable energy resources. Because of its predictability, geothermal also saves on transmission and other integration costs, as compared to variable renewables like wind and solar power, LADWP said.

LADWP has announced it will stop receiving coal power by 2025, and replace it with a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, and efficient natural gas as a bridge fuel to provide reliability. That plan includes shutting down coal generation by early next decade at the Intermountain power plant in Utah and replacing it with a new gas plant that would wheel power down the same line as Intermountain. As part of the major power supply transformation, LADWP will also completely eliminate the use of ocean water cooling at its three coastal power plants while rebuilding them to improve reliability and integration with renewable energy.

LADWP said it has been steadily building a diverse renewable energy portfolio of wind, solar and now geothermal power. LADWP achieved 20% renewables in 2010, ahead of most other utilities in the state, and has maintained a 20% average for the past three years. LADWP said it is on track to supply 25% of its energy from renewable resources by 2016, and 33% by 2020, as required by state legislation.

The geothermal energy from the Don A. Campbell facility will provide approximately 0.5% of LADWP’s renewable energy goals. LADWP has also entered a long-term power purchase agreement for 34 MW from the Heber-1 Geothermal Power Project in Imperial County, expected to begin Dec. 16, 2015.

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.