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L.A. Mayor Approves Largest Solar and Battery Storage Project in the U.S.

Sept. 18, 2019
The Eland Solar and Storage Center will capture and store enough energy to power 283,330 homes, reducing the need for natural gas at night or on cloudy days.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointees on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commission unanimously voted to approve power purchase agreements for the Eland Solar and Storage Center, the largest solar and battery energy storage system in the United States. The agreements are subject to City Council approval.

"The climate crisis has never been more dire, but the solutions have never been clearer or cheaper — and Los Angeles is investing in renewable energy and cleaning our air as part of my DWP reform agenda," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "The Eland Solar and Storage Center will help us keep the lights on without the help of dirty fossil fuels — even when the sun isn’t shining — and power our progress toward a low-carbon, green-energy future."

The recent unanimous vote from the LADWP board of commissioners approves two power purchase agreements with 8Minutenergy to develop the project and begin commercial operation no later than December 31, 2023. The contract will cost less than US$5 per year for each LADWP customer.

Located on 2650 acres in Kern County, California, the project will include two large-scale solar facilities that will capture 400 MW of solar energy and store up to 1200 MWh of energy — all of which can be distributed to meet peak demand, reducing the need for natural gas at night or on cloudy days. The site will hold enough energy to power 283,330 homes across Los Angeles.

The Eland proposal, which will be built in two phases, was selected out of a pool of 130 proposals because of the project’s scope and competitive price, which includes a fixed cost of less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar power, the lowest price offered in U.S. history. 8Minutenergy will cover all costs associated with the development, maintenance, and operation of the facility.

8Minutenergy has finalized and signed a project labor agreement with the local labor unions of Kern County to ensure the project will provide good-paying, green jobs for Southern California workers. The project is expected to create 700 jobs over the 14-month construction period and employ 40 long-term operations and maintenance staff when in service.

Currently, the LADWP receives 31% of its energy from renewable sources, and the Eland Solar and Storage Center will increase that number by up to 7.1%. This will enable the city to prevent up to 727,360 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from a conventional fossil fuel power plant — which is equivalent to taking 148,700 cars off the road for a year.

The development of the Eland Solar and Storage Center is a direct result of the zero-carbon vision laid out in the mayor’s Green New Deal. It is expected to play a key role in helping Los Angeles reach 55% renewable energy by 2025, 80% renewable energy by 2036, and 100% renewable energy by 2045.

The effort to bolster Los Angeles’ renewable energy portfolio is the latest in a long list of actions taken by the mayor to set Los Angeles on a path to carbon-neutrality — including the decision made earlier this year to phase out natural gas operations at three coastal power plants in California.

"Eland Solar and Storage Center will offer reliable, cost-competitive energy as we expand solar and other renewable resources to meet our aggressive climate change goals," said LADWP Interim General Manager Martin L. Adams. "Among other benefits, the project will bridge the gap between day and night, dramatically increasing the operational value of the project."

"Southern California gets a lot of sunshine, and now that sunshine is going to power our lives, rain or shine, night or day," said Evan Gillespie, Western director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. "The Eland project is historically low cost. Its scale and innovative design will deliver clean power whenever the city needs it. This is what a Green New Deal looks like in practice: creating good union jobs, replacing fossil fuels with clean energy, and providing Angelenos with power cheaper than coal or gas."

The Eland Solar and Storage Center will be the LADWP’s first utility-scale, integrated solar and battery project engineered to provide fully dispatchable power to customers in the evening and night time hours — reducing reliance on natural gas when renewable energy is unavailable.

The joint clean energy investment with Glendale Water and Power, who will receive 12.5% of the total solar and battery storage, will be administered through the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA).

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