Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Wind Power

Renewable Energy Boost for City of Los Angeles

Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require a certain percentage of power to be derived from renewable energy sources, have been the major policy driver in U.S. states to promote renewable energy. A new trend is emerging, however, where similar RPS requirements are being adopted in specific cities as a way for them to clean up and diversify their power supplies. Los Angeles is the latest city to make big step in this direction.

This week, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) approved a policy May 23 that sets a goal of increasing LADWP’s supply of energy from renewable resources to 20 percent of its generation mix by the year 2017. The policy sets an interim goal of 13 percent by 2010. The goals would be measured by the amount of electric energy sales to retail customers. “The RPS policy reflects LADWP’s commitment to renewable resource supply and is consistent with the City Council’s resolution asking LADWP to develop such a policy,” said General Manager Ronald F. Deaton. “This policy provides a long-term framework to achieve the 20 percent goal without compromising power reliability or the financial stability of LADWP and its customers.” He emphasized that LADWP will conduct detailed studies to determine the need for a renewable energy surcharge to meet the RPS goals, and, if needed, a calculation method and plan for implementing the surcharge. LADWP will also examine the possibility of a solar surcharge to support a proposed set aside for solar photovoltaics. Deaton also said LADWP plans to initiate discussions with neighborhood councils and other community groups, on the RPS policy and potential RPS surcharge ordinance. Any proposed surcharge or surcharges would also be subject to a third-party, independent financial review, according to City Council action. LADWP is also in discussions with renewable resource providers that made a “short list” of proposals submitted under the RPS request for proposals that was issued on June 30, 2004. The short-listed projects consist of wind, geothermal, landfill gas, biomass, and small hydroelectric power facilities. As described in the RFP, the Department plans to acquire new renewable energy resources through development and ownership of projects, and through mid- to long-term power purchase agreements. LADWP expects to meet the RPS goals through multiple projects over the next several years. Deaton said the goal is to enter into agreements with the renewable energy providers once a renewable surcharge, if needed, is established. LADWP, however, would continue to pursue smaller projects with short-term agreements and minimal financial impact. LADWP also expects to initiate discussions with neighborhood councils to update the LADWP’s 2000 Integrated Resource Plan–a 10-year blueprint for meeting future energy load growth, improving system reliability, maintaining the lowest possible rates, and demonstrating environmental leadership. Among renewable projects already in the works are the 120-megawatt Pine Tree Wind project and an agreement to purchase 40 megawatts of power annually from a proposed BioConverter green waste digestion facility. LADWP is administering a $150 million program to install rooftop solar photovoltaic systems throughout Los Angeles. The Department is also modernizing its hydroelectric power plant in San Francisquito Canyon. Since the IRP was established, LADWP has increased energy efficiency and decreased emissions in Los Angeles by “repowering” its aging, in-basin natural gas powered generating units with combined cycle generators and state-of-the-art emissions technology, resulting in over 75 percent emissions reductions.