L.A. Takes Major Step Towards Clean Energy Future

Artist rendering of the K Road Moapa Solar Project

With its unanimous approval of two long-term solar power purchasing agreements, the Los Angeles City Council, acting on a matter approved by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, moved decisively to meet Los Angeles’ renewable energy goals. The agreements are for 460 megawatts of clean solar power.

Combined with a new LADWP-owned property that will support a 250 megawatt solar array planned in Kern County, CA,  and a commitment to procure 150 megawatts 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 approximately  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. 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. 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, “ said Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. “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. That is equivalent to removing 210,000 cars from the road annually. All Angelenos should take pride in knowing we are rebuilding our power system into a cleaner, greener and environmentally sustainable model.”

On Tuesday, the Council 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 approved today is for 210 megawatts of power from the 250-megawatt 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, Nevada.  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 solar projects, which will be among the largest solar arrays in the U.S., demonstrate the city’s leadership in moving away from harmful coal power to support public health and the environment while meeting the state’s strict renewable energy mandate,” said City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, Chair of the Council Jobs and Business Development Committee.

“The K Road and Copper Mountain 3 projects, along with a proposed LADWP-owned property that will support a solar project in the California High Desert and the City Solar Feed-in-Tariff Program, will represent over 8.5% of the total renewable energy goal of 33% by 2020,” said LADWP General Manager Ronald O. Nichols.  “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.”

In a concurrent effort, LADWP has moved to acquire a 2,500-acre site from Beacon Solar LLC to develop a 250-megawatt 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.

“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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