The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has entered a formal agreement to buy all of the power produced by a 250-megawatt solar generating facility being proposed on the Moapa Paiute Indian Reservation.
The proposed plant, being built by K Road Power, would place hundreds of photovoltaic panels, and possibly a concentrating solar power tower, on about 2,000 acres of land about one mile north, across Interstate 15, from the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza off exit 75; about 20 miles south of Moapa Valley. The plant will be the first commercial-grade solar energy facility operating on tribal lands.
The plant will include a 5.5 mi le transmission line which will connect it to the regional power grid at the Crystal substation near Apex.
A smaller transmission line will be built to provide power to the Travel Plaza enabling the tribe to shut down the diesel generators that are currently used to power the facility during the daytime hours when the sun is shining. Auxiliary power will still be needed from the generators after the sun goes down.
The Moapa Paiute tribal chairman William Anderson was unavailable for comment on the project last week.
But in an earlier statement, Tribal Administrator Yvette Chevalier said, “Everyone is extremely excited, hopeful and jazzed about the future of this project. It creates financial and educational opportunities for the Moapa Band of Paiutes and gives us the ability to use tribal lands for good, healthy economic development. This is an exemplary demonstration project for the community and for other tribes considering large scale solar projects.”
The project received federal approval in June when U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on the plan. Since then it has awaited a power purchase agreement to be finalized which would provide the funding to begin construction on the facility.
Earlier this month, the LADWP board approved a 25-year contract with K Road for up to 250 megawatts of power from the plant, enough to supply about 118,000 Los Angeles households.
At the same time, LADWP announced they would also be purchasing 210 megawatts from the 250 megawatt Copper Mountain Solar 3 project currently being developed in Boulder City by an affiliate of Sempra U.S. Gas and Power. This will provide enough to serve another 70,000 Los Angeles homes.
Both projects are expected to be completed and to be delivering solar power to Los Angeles by the end of 2016.
The LADWP has locked in a rate of 9.4 cents per kilowatt hour over 25 years, for the solar power coming from the two Nevada facilities as well as from a third facility being developed in Kern County, California. Natural gas powered energy is currently trading at around 3.4 cents per kilowatt hour on the spot market, according to the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) data.
LADWP is working to comply with a mandate issued by the California state legislature that sets a high bar for the state’s utilities in the use of renewable energy.
“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, will represent over 7% 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.”
“These solar projects will be the largest solar arrays in the U.S. and 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 Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti.