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Los Angeles Ready to Add 300 MW of New Solar Energy Capacity

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is moving forward with multiple agreements for a large 250-MW solar array in Kern County while also spurring development of another 50 MW of solar power within the city of Los Angeles.

“This is a great milestone in the City of L.A.’s efforts to expand renewable energy and a win-win for the businesses and people of Los Angeles who will benefit from solar power development right in the city,” said Board President Mel Levine in a June 5 statement. “These solar projects will help spark economic development and jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, and meet L.A.’s renewable energy mandates.”

“These agreements put us within reach of our targets of 25% renewable energy by 2016 and 33 percent by 2020,” said Marcie Edwards, LADWP General Manager.

The agreements, which require approval by the City Council, pave the way for the 250-MW Beacon Solar Project, which will be built 14 miles north of Mojave, Calif., along Highway 14, while rounding out the full 150 MW Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program. Last year, LADWP launched the FiT Set-Pricing Program for 100 MW, becoming the largest city in the nation to offer a FiT program.

The Beacon land, acquired by LADWP in 2012 and previously permitted for a solar development, has been divided into five sites. Four sites will be developed through four separate power purchase agreements for a total of 200 MW. Each of these contracts is tied to developing a group of small-scale FiT solar projects within LADWP’s service area in Los Angeles. Altogether, these “bundled” agreements will mean construction of 50 MW of local solar.

Through a competitive bid for the Beacon 200-MW Bundled Solar Program, the LADWP Board awarded two of the sites (88 MW) to SunEdison, and two sites (112 MW) to Hecate Energy. In conjunction with the large solar projects, SunEdison is obligated to develop 22 MW of local solar and Hecate will build 28 MW of solar within Los Angeles.

The fifth solar project that will be installed on the Beacon property is a 50-MW project that is not “bundled” with a FiT component. This contract was awarded to Hecate Energy.

Randy Howard, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager-Power System, said: “These new solar projects will add to the existing Pine Tree wind and solar projects, and form a cluster of renewables in this area to help LADWP meet its renewable energy objectives near the Los Angeles Basin.”

To support the increase in renewable energy in Kern County, LADWP has begun construction of the Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project (BRRTP), which will expand the capacity of its existing transmission to bring these new renewables home to LADWP’s customers. Under the agreements, LADWP will provide all transmission and distribution infrastructure to support the Beacon Solar Project. The work involves expanding the Barren Ridge Switching Station and building a switchyard for the Beacon project as well as expanding the transmission line itself.

As part of the transmission project, LADWP has begun construction of a new switching station in Haskell Canyon near Santa Clarita, which will improve overall reliability by adding a second connection to the Castaic Power Plant. The Castaic Power Plant serves as “pumped storage” for solar and wind energy and is considered vital to integrating the renewables into the electric grid.

This article was originally published on GenerationHub and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Los Angeles via Shutterstock

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