Clean Power Image Credit: Marshall Astor, Wiki Commons

Published on June 16th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


300 MW Of Solar Approved By City Of Los Angeles

June 16th, 2014 by  

250 megawatts (MW) of the 300 MW that were recently approved by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) will come from the Beacon solar project located in Kern County, the LADWP recently announced. The other 50 MW will be solar projects developed in the inner city. The total number of homes that could be powered by these projects is a maximum of 150,000 (with adequate amounts of sunlight of course).

Image Credit: Marshall Astor, Wiki Commons

Image Credit: Marshall Astor, Wiki Commons

The city council will need to approve the projects for them to be finalized. If the council does approve, the 50 MW of inner city solar projects will qualify for the LADWP feed-in tariff (FiT), which started with a 10 MW demonstration program but has been upgraded to 150 MW.

LADWP has written this about the FiT: “LADWP is implementing the largest FiT program of any municipal utility in the nation. As it goes through growing pains, we continually work to improve the experience of customers and businesses who participate in it. The goal is to achieve the target level of solar energy, catalyze the solar industry and create jobs, and streamline the process to increase efficiency.”

The Beacon Solar Project was approved by the California Energy Commission in 2010. It was proposed as a concentrating solar power plant using parabolic troughs utilizing a little over 2,000 acres of Kern County land. Solar thermal technology will indeed be employed at this new plant. The proposed site is about 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

By 2016, LA could have 25% renewable energy and 33% by 2020, if the city hits its mandates. 1200 MW of solar capacity by 2020 has been published as their goal, which would be about 12.2% of its total renewable energy goal for that milestone.

LADWP already owns the the 120 MW Pine Tree Wind Farm, also located in Kern County. It is the largest wind farm in the US owned by a city. 
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  • Doug

    Wouldn’t it be better to finance the installation of this solar power in the actual service area? There are thousands of rooftops and parking lots in the city of LA.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Just two thoughts.

      The “quality” of sunlight might be better at the chosen location. Antelope Valley, for example, has ~360 days of sunshine per year. Not going to get that much sunshine along the coast.

      And the cost of large scale, “utility” solar is considerably lower than dispersed installation. GMT reported the EOY 2013 solar prices as Residential $4.59/W, Commercial $3.57/W, and Utility Scale $1.96/W. Could be a more bang for the buck decision.

      • ironrider433

        Do your cost’s for Utility Scale include the transmission lines, sub stations and of course the cost of all the law suits. Residential and Commercial are very much use where you generate. The use of Parking lots and warehouse roofs for solar panels would get the power closer to where it is needed/used at a lower cost with out long term lawsuits over environmental impacts and where the transmission lines are going to be installed, also the environmental impacts would be a lot less using warehouse roofs and parking lots. In other words generate locally, use locally.
        PS. You get the added benefit of shaded parking in the summer.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Those prices are for installed solar. They do not include transmission.
          Transmission costs are rather small. In general, large scale solar is built near existing transmission so only a local run is necessary.

          Distributed solar has its advantages. End-users are installing over their roofs. And utilities are purchasing from large solar farms where they get the best price.

          • LookingForward

            How to stimulate local economy, when it comes to renewables:
            The city gives incentives to the people to buy solar systems as big as possible either through rebates, co-ownership, (small)FITs or net-metering paid by the city or a combination or some other incentive like county/city taxbrakes.
            That way the city will get the electricity it needs for as cheap as possible without huge investments and keep the money earned and paid and electricity produced and consumed by the city and the people local and in the county as much as possible.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You are making logical arguments. But I’d bet the utility system doesn’t have a budget line item for stimulating the local economy. They have to look for the cheapest electricity source.

          • LookingForward

            I thought I read that those 300MW are owned by the city/county itself and produces electricity for the city/county itself, right?
            Why not use those or future investments for renewable energy for the city by incentivicing bigger residential renewables and buying the overproduction from the people, if that isn’t cheap for a city (directly and indirectly). The city/county would only have to pay for the extra solarpanels and maybe the extra cost of a bigger inverter, the rest of the cost could still be for the homeowners. The incentive would then be in the buying of the overproduction for a reasonable price and/or a taxbrake.

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