LADWP Begins Construction on Major Solar Project
LOS ANGELES —The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), joined by City of Los Angeles and Kern County officials, broke ground Wednesday on a 250-megawatt (MW) solar array in Kern County while also spurring development of 50 MW of solar power within the city to help boost the local clean energy economy. Altogether, the new solar projects will provide 300 MW of clean, sustainable sun power for 127,000 homes and reduce enough greenhouse gas emissions to remove the equivalent of 82,500 cars off the road.
The Beacon Solar Plant, located about 14 miles north of the town of Mojave, Calif., is unique because the agreements with two private solar developers to build the large-scale solar in Kern County also requires them to build small-scale solar projects in Los Angeles through LADWP’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program. The full 300 MW, expected to be completed by the end of 2016, will move LADWP’s renewable portfolio closer to meet the state-mandated level of 25% renewables by 2016 and 33% by 2020.
“The Beacon Solar Plant and related local Feed-in Tariff solar projects will move the needle closer to our goals, providing L.A. City residents with clean energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards. “In addition to the 250MW of solar we are building in Mojave, in just two years with these agreements, we’ll add solar equal to one-half of all the solar that’s been installed within the City of Los Angeles service territory in the past 15 years.”
“The goal is in sight. It’s exciting to witness the start of a truly significant project for Los Angeles—one that will spawn solar generation on a large scale while spurring more clean solar power right in Los Angeles and boosting the local economy,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, 7th District, and Chair of the L.A. City Council Energy and Environment Committee, who joined in the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
Along with helping spur the clean energy economy in Los Angeles and meeting renewable energy goals, the expansion of local solar builds more resiliency and reliability into the power grid. Small solar systems are like “mini power plants” that generate power right where it is being used, saving on transmission costs and taking advantage of the city’s abundant sunshine to help meet electrical demand, LADWP officials said.
“The combination of large-scale solar in the Mojave Desert and small local solar in Los Angeles also offers the advantage of geographic diversity. If it’s cloudy in Kern County and sunny in L.A., the city will still capture renewable energy,” said Randy Howard, Senior Assistant General Manager, LADWP Power System.
The Beacon Solar Plant is part of a cluster of renewable energy projects that ties into the new Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project (BRRTP), a critical power transmission line that will provide an additional 2,000 MW of capacity, enabling LADWP to deliver new renewable energy from Beacon and other renewable resources from the Tehachapi Mountains and Mojave Desert areas to Los Angeles.
The Beacon Solar Plant and local FiT solar projects will be built through power purchase agreements approved by the City Council and Board of Water and Power Commissioners. Selected through a competitive bid, Hecate Energy will develop 162 MW at Beacon as well as 28 MW of additional solar in the LA Basin. The second contractor, SunEdison, will develop 88 MW at Beacon and also build another 22 MW of solar in Los Angeles. Both Beacon and local solar projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2016. LADWP crews are building the Beacon Switchyard and Collection Station, a transmission connector line, and other infrastructure necessary to support the solar power facility.
In 2012, LADWP acquired the 2,500-acre Beacon property, including all previously approved permits to build a 250 MW solar photovoltaic facility. The Beacon Plant will be a state-of-the art facility, including 900,000 panels on single-axis trackers able to track the sun in the late afternoon hours for maximum operational efficiency.
Renewable energy is critical to the power supply transformation of Los Angeles. Over the next 15 years, LADWP will replace over 70% of its existing power generation with renewables, energy efficiency, storage, and more efficient and flexible natural gas generators.