Los Angeles Making Clean Energy

This page is about how LA’s electric utility (LA Power) is upgrading its energy sourcing, infrastructure, and technology to reach 100% clean electricity by sometime very soon.

1.0 LA is getting started on solar electricity

1.1 The Biggest Rooftop Solar Farm in Los Angeles

1.2 The New Solar Farms Electrifying LA

1.0 Los Angeles is making a great start on solar electricity

In 2020, solar-made electricity was the source of only 2 percent of LA’s electric needs. But LA is on track to add more solar-generated electricity to its energy-source mix. The utility-scale solar farms that help electrify Los Angeles are among the world’s most powerful. Each one makes 45% to 200% as much electricity as a coal-fired or gas-fired power plant.

1.1 The biggest solar farm within LA city limits covers otherwise unused industrial rooftops

Photo of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti standing on a solar panel and giving the thumbs up.

Westmont Rooftop Solar Farm started making electricity for LA in 2017. Westmont is currently the largest solar power plant within LA city limits, and one of the largest city-sited solar farms in the world. The 2 million square foot rooftop (38 football fields) is near the Port of Los Angeles. It makes enough electricity for 5,000 homes and prevents the carbon emission equivalent of 3,200 gasoline vehicles.

There’s not much open land for solar in crowded LA’s, but there’s plenty of sprawling rooftops. The Westmont Distribution Center’s expansive rooftop solar farm effectively serves as a local power plant for the City. It’s about the size of the giant Apple Headquarters solar roof in Cupertino, CA. The project was built, in part, by 50 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in a local workforce development program.

Westmont’s Solar Rooftop is part of LA Power’s “feed-in” program. Owners of buildings with solarized rooftops can sell (or “feed in”) their locally-made electricity to LA Power’s electric grid. PermaCity Solar, Inc. built the Westmont solar farm in 2017. The company’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Port says “The landowner rents out the roof and the city buys the renewable power.”

Business News: Solar Business Shines Up Resume With Installation: PermaCity turns on powerful rooftop generating project in L.A. by Howard Fine, Los Angeles Business Journal June 30, 2017. LAbusinessjournal.com/news/2017/jun/30/permacity-solar-installation-los-angeles/

Local news site: San Pedro boasts world’s most powerful rooftop solar generating project, DailyBreeze.com July 2, 2017 DailyBreeze.com/ 2017/07/02/ san-pedro-boasts-worlds-most-powerful-rooftop-solar-generating-project/

Neighborhood Blog: 50,000 panels spread across 2 million square feet by Elijah Chiland, Curbed los Angeles, Jun 26, 2017 LA Curbed.com/2017/6/26/15875274/la-solar-power-rooftop-san-pedro-dwp

Note: Units of Measure: “Megawatts,” abbreved “MW,” is a unit of measure for the amount of electricity a power plant can produce, and the amount of electricity required by an entire city. For example, a typical coal plant is about 600 MW in size. A 300 MW solar farm makes makes about half the electricity of a typical coal plant. A 1,200 MW solar farm makes about twice the electricity of a typical coal plant.

1.2 Meet Los Angeles’ new solar farms

1.2.1 This solar power plant is about to electrify Los Angeles on cloudy days, and at night.

“This project will bridge the gap between day and night and help meet our [LA’s] aggressive climate change goals.” – Martin Adams, General Manager, LA Power (Nov 6, 2019)

Eland Solar + Storage Center will start serving Los Angeles in 2023 and stay in operation until at least 2048. It’s located on 2,650 acres 70 miles north of Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the City of Glendale Department of Water and Power will electrify 283,000 households and eliminate the carbon equivalent of 149,000 gasoline cars.

Batteries included. Until the mid 2010s, fossil-fuel enthusiasts criticized solar electricity for being available only while the sun shines. When it starts up in late 2023, Eland Solar+Storage Center will be one of the first big solar farms in the U.S. to store solar electricity on-site. Eland Solar Center’s utility-sized batteries will initially be able to supply 6% of all of LA’s electric needs for 4 hours each night. By the 2040s, Eland together with other desert-based solar farms will have enough battery capacity to energize Los Angeles all night long, and all-day on rare cloudy days. Now that solar farms come with batteries included, carbon fire power plants will no longer be needed.

National Newspaper: Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles OKs a deal for record-cheap solar power and battery storage. by Sammy Roth, Sep. 10, 2019. latimes.com/environment/story/2019-09-10/ladwp-votes-on-eland-solar-contract

Industry News: Solar BuilderMag.com. Los Angeles signs on for lowest combined solar + storage prices on record, by Chris Crowell, Nov 7, 2019 SolarBuilderMag.com/financing/los-angeles-signs-on-for-lowest-combined-solar-storage-prices-on-record-with-8minute

Media Release: Mayor Garcetti Celebrates Final Approval of Largest Solar and Energy Storage Project in America. November 6, 2019. City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, LAcity.org/highlights/mayor-garcetti-celebrates-final-approval-largest-solar-and-energy-storage-project-america

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times. Climate activists celebrate after LA Power approved a contract with the operators of Eland Solar & Storage Center.

1.2.2 Desert Sunlight Solar Farm makes the electricity LA needs when everyone’s got their AC on.

Aerial photo of Desert Sunlight Solar Farm and the surrounding Mojave Desert

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm started making electricity for Los Angels in 2015 and will operate until at least 2040. Desert Sunlight sits on 3,840 acres 236 miles east of the city and makes enough electricity for 160,000 households, preventing the spew equivalent of 60,000 gasoline cars.

Govt agency site: California Energy Commission. California Clean Energy Tour: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm. Energy.ca.gov/tour/desertsunlight/

Tech blog: 550 MW Desert Sunlight Solar Farm In California Now Online by James Ayer. Clean Technica. cleantechnica.com/2015/02/10/550-mw-desert-sunlight-solar-farm-california-now-online/

Company site: First Solar. Desert Sunlight Solar Farm. firstsolar.com/en/Resources/Projects/Desert-Sunlight-Solar-Farm

1.2.3 LA’s Beacon Solar Farm didn’t need to ruin precious desert habitat.

Beacon Solar Farm

Beacon Solar Farm started service in 2017 and will operate until at least 2042. Beacon is situated on 2,500 acres of a former alfalfa farm 70 miles north of LA. Beacon makes enough electricity for 103,000 households and eliminates the carbon emission equivalent of 67,000 gasoline cars.

Think Tank Site: Beacon of Light: A Solar Plant shines in the Desert, by Carol Tucker, Western Energy Institute, 2019. digital.apogee-mg.com/publication/?i=599709&article_id=3420917&view=articleBrowser&ver=html5

1.2.4 Springbok Solar Farm comes with batteries

Springbok Solar Farm started making electricity for City of Los Angeles Water and Power in 2016, and will operate until at least 2041. It sits on 1,400 acres 70 miles north of LA. Springbok makes enough electricity for 152,000 households and prevents the carbon emissions equivalent of 126,000 gasoline cars.

Market Report: Falling US solar-plus-storage prices start to level as batteries supersize, by Garrett Hering, Feb 20 2020. S&P Global. spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/falling-us-solar-plus-storage-prices-start-to-level-as-batteries-supersize-56971432

Photo: Aerial view of Springbok Solar Farm, by Swinerton Renewable Energy

1.2.5 Moapa Paiute Solar Park is near Las Vegas, but makes electricity for Los Angeles.

Moapa Paiute Solar Park started making electricity for Los Angeles Dept of Water & Power in 2017, and will operate until at least 2042. It’s situated on 2,000 acres of Moapa Southern Paiute land, 319 miles from Los Angeles (near Las Vegas actually). Moapa Paiute Solar Park makes enough electricity for 111,000 homes and prevents the carbon emission equivalent to 73,000 gasoline cars;

Project Overview: Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Park. First Solar, Inc. 2018. firstsolar.com/en-IN/Resources/Projects/Moapa-Southern-Paiute-Solar-Park

Industry News: Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, The First Solar Farm On Tribal Land, Is Now Online, by Steve Hanley, Cleantechnica, March 22, 2017 Cleantechnica.com/2017/03/22/moapa-southern-paiute-solar-project-first-solar-farm-tribal-land-now-online/


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