L.A. Moves Forward On ‘Historically Low-Cost’ Solar And Storage Center

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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) board of commissioners has voted to approve power purchase agreements (PPAs) for the Eland Solar and Storage Center, which is poised to be the U.S.’ largest solar and battery energy storage system, says the LADWP.

The development of the Eland Solar and Storage Center follows a zero-carbon vision laid out in Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Green New Deal. The project is expected to play a key role in helping Los Angeles reach 55% renewable energy by 2025, 80% renewable energy by 2036 and 100% renewable energy by 2045, says Garcetti.

The agreements are still subject to city council approval, however.

“The climate crisis has never been more dire, but the solutions have never been clearer or cheaper — and Los Angeles is investing in renewable energy and cleaning our air as part of my DWP reform agenda,” says Garcetti. “The Eland Solar and Storage Center will help us keep the lights on without the help of dirty fossil fuels – even when the sun isn’t shining – and power our progress toward a low-carbon, green energy future.”

Earlier this year, Garcetti also announced that the LADWP would phase out natural gas operations at three coastal power plants in California.

“Eland Solar and Storage Center will offer reliable, cost-competitive energy as we expand solar and other renewable resources to meet our aggressive climate change goals,” says the LADWP’s interim general manager, Martin L. Adams. “Among other benefits, the project will bridge the gap between day and night, dramatically increasing the operational value of the project.”

Located on 2,650 acres in Kern County, Calif., the project will include two large-scale solar facilities that will capture 400 MW of solar and store up to 1,200 MWh of energy — all of which can be distributed to meet peak demand, reducing the need for natural gas at night or on cloudy days. The site will hold enough energy to power 283,330 homes across Los Angeles.

The proposal, which will be built in two phases, was selected out of a pool of 130 proposals because of the project’s scope and competitive price, which includes a fixed cost of less than 2 cents per kWh for solar power, the lowest price offered in U.S. history, the city claims. 8Minutenergy will cover all costs associated with the development, maintenance and operation of the facility.

The unanimous vote from the board of commissioners approves two PPAs with 8Minutenergy to develop the project and begin commercial operation no later than Dec. 31, 2023. The contract will cost less than $5 per year for each LADWP customer.

8Minutenergy has also finalized and signed a project labor agreement with the local labor unions of Kern County. The project is expected to create 700 jobs over the 14-month construction period and employ 40 long-term operations and maintenance staff when in service.

Currently, LADWP receives 31% of its energy from renewable sources, and the Eland Solar and Storage Center will increase that number by up to 7.1%. That would enable the city to prevent up to 727,360 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions from a conventional fossil fuel power plant — the equivalent of taking 148,700 cars off the road for a year.

“Southern California gets a lot of sunshine, and now that sunshine is going to power our lives rain or shine, night or day,” says Evan Gillespie, Western director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The Eland project is historically low-cost. Its scale and innovative design will deliver clean power whenever the city needs it. This is what a Green New Deal looks like in practice: creating good union jobs, replacing fossil fuels with clean energy and providing Angelenos with power cheaper than coal or gas.”

The joint clean energy investment with Glendale Water and Power, which will receive 12.5% of the total solar and battery storage, will be administered through the Southern California Public Power Authority.

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