Bioenergy, Project Development, Wind Power

Los Angeles Commits to Biomass Generation

The Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday night to purchase enough renewable energy to serve up to 40,000 homes, which could potentially expand the city’s supply of renewable energy generation and displacing about US$12 million in natural gas cost per year.

Los Angeles, California – December 5, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The Board’s action, which requires approval by the Los Angeles City Council, essentially commits the city to purchasing 40 MW of new renewable energy from BioConverter LLC, a Delaware-based company, for approximately $16 million per year for 20 years, beginning in fiscal year 2008-09. The plant, which would be built by BioConverter Los Angeles LLC at no cost to the city, is expected to be operational by 2008. “This agreement demonstrates the LADWP’s and the City of Los Angeles’ continued commitment to expanding our renewable energy sources,” said David Wiggs, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power(LADWP) General Manager. “The proposed facility would use innovative technology to convert green materials into a biogas that will produce clean, renewable electricity. It is truly a win-win proposal for the citizens of Los Angeles, the environment, the city, and the private sector green power industry.” Under the purchase agreement, the Department will not incur any cost toward developing or building the facility, but is committed to purchasing the power at the rate of $48 per MW hour once the project is built and operating. The agreement requires BioConverter Los Angeles to find a suitable location for the new facility, subject to the city’s approval. The company would assume responsibility for developing and constructing the biomass anaerobic digestion facility, including obtaining all necessary permits and required environmental approvals, as well as reimbursing LADWP for constructing a substation and transmission lines to connect the plant to the city’s power system. The LADWP would operate the power block under an operations and management agreement, while BioConverter would operate the anaerobic process. “We’re enthusiastically looking forward to working with the City and the Department of Water and Power on producing green power,” said BioConverter CEO Jim McElvaney. McElvaney is a bioengineer, who holds the patent that makes the bioconversion process more energy efficient. “The technology we will be using for the plant in Los Angeles is 30 to 50 percent more efficient than that used in previously developed anaerobic digestion facilities,” said McElvaney. “So we are able to produce that much more green power and produce higher quality plant food products.” Once constructed, the bioconverter facility would process 3,000 tons daily of lawn and other green clippings through an anaerobic digestion system, which then creates the biogas that would supply renewable power to the city’s power grid. According to Henry Martinez, LADWP chief operating officer – power, the proposed facility would supply about 1.3 percent of the LADWP power system energy requirements, or approximately 333 gigawatt-hours annually. In January 2001, the LADWP released a request for proposals for the development of green power generation projects. The first project selected, the Pine Tree Wind project, will produce up to 120 MW of electricity, enough to power more than 100,000 households. The BioConverter LLC project is the second one LADWP has selected, based upon the low development cost.