Climate in Los Angeles / Energy Farms

This page is about how LA’s electric utility (LA Power) is upgrading its energy sourcing, infrastructure, and technology – under pressure of the atmosphere heating up and ruining everything.

1. LA’s Electricity from the Sun

1.1 Biggest Rooftop Solar Farms in LA

1.2 Biggest Solar Farms electrifying LA

1. LA’s Electricity from the Sun

In 2020, solar-made electricity is 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. The desert-based solar farms here make 45% to 200% as much electricity as a large coal-fired or gas-fired power plant.

1.1 Biggest Rooftop Solar Farms in LA

1.1.1 Westmont’s rooftop solar farm covers a major LA industrial complex.

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

Westmont Solar Farm started making electricity for LA in 2017

There’s not much open land for solar in crowded LA’s city limits, but there are a lot of big rooftops. The Westmont Distribution Center’s expansive rooftop solar farm effectively serves as a local power plant for the City.

Westmont Rooftop Solar Farm is currently (2020) the largest solar power plant within LA city limits, and one of the largest city-sited solar farms in the world. It’s currently (2020) second in size (by a hair) to the Apple Headquarters rooftop 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 homemade 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.”

Electricity enough for 5,000 homes / up to 20,000 people. Carbon Equivalent: 6,000 gasoline vehicles. Spew Prevention: 450 tons daily / 900,000 pounds daily

Location: Across the I-10 Freeway from the Port of Los Angeles. City Zoning: Industrial. Roof Cover: 2 million square feet, 50 acres / 0.08 square miles / 38 football fields.

Generating Capacity: 16.4 Megawatts of electricity. Batteries: Not yet. Solar Technology: Thin-film photovoltaic panels. Owner: Black Rock. Builder: PermaCity. Electric Utility: City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA Power). Feed-to-Grid Contract: from 2017 to 2042

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.

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

1.2 LA’s Biggest Solar Farms

1.2.1 Soon, this solar power plant will electrify Los Angeles on cloudy days, and at NIGHT!

The amazing Eland Solar-Plus-Storage Center will be SWITCHED ON in 2023

Until the mid 2010s, fossil-fuel enthusiasts were able to criticize 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 arsenal of utility-sized batteries will initially be able to supply 6% of all of LA’s electric needs for 4 hours each night. More battery storage will be added over time. By the 2040s, Eland along with other desert-based solar projects will have enough solar battery capacity to energize Los Angeles all night long, and all-day on rare cloudy days. Now, with the availability of utility-scale electric storage, fire-based power plants will no longer be needed.

Photo of happy climate activists celebrating LA Power's 
unanimous approval of the Eland Solar & Storage Center.

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

Electricity enough for 283,330 homes / up to 1,000,000 people). Carbon Equivalent: 149,000 gasoline cars; Spew Prevention: 300,000 tons each year. / 822 tons each day / 1,644,000, pounds each day

Location: 70 miles north of LA, in the Mojave Desert near California City, CA. Land cover: 2,650 acres / 4.1 square miles / 2,008 football fields.

Generating Capacity: 400 Megawatts Batteries: 300 Megawatts. Solar Technology: Single Axis Bifacial Photovoltaic Solar Modules. Battery Technology: Lithium Ion. Owner: Capital Dynamics. Builder: 8Minute Solar Energy. Electric Utilities: City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA Power), and the City of Glendale Department of Water and Power. Feed to Grid Contract: from 2023 to 2048.

Units of Measure for Electricity: “Megawatts,” abbreved “MW,” measures 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.

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.

1.3.2 Desert Sunlight Solar Farm makes the electricity LA needs when everyone’s got their air conditioning on.

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

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm started making electricity for LA in 2015

Electricity enough for 160,000 homes / up to 600,000 people. Carbon Equivalent: 60,000 gasoline cars. Spew Prevention: 435,000 tons each year / 1,192 tons each day / 2,384,000 pounds each day

Location: 236 miles east of LA, near Desert Center, California. Land Cover: 3,840 acres/ 6.0 square miles / 2,909 football fields.

Generating Capacity: 550 Megawatts. Batteries: 20 Megawatts. Solar Technology: Thin-Film Cadmium Telluride. Owner: NextEra Energy Resources. Builder: First Solar. Electric Utilities: City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Feed to Grid Contract: from 2015 to 2040.

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 Beacon Solar Farm makes electricity enough for 450,000 people in LA.

Beacon Solar Farm

Beacon Solar Farm started making electricity for LA in 2017

This solar farm is planted on the site of a former alfalfa farm.

Electricity enough for: 103,000 homes / up to 450,000 people. Carbon Equivalent: 67,000 gasoline cars. Spew Prevention: 313,000 tons each year / 931 tons daily, 1,863,000 pounds daily

Location: 70 miles north of LA, in the Mojave Desert near California City, CA. Land Cover: 2,500 acres/ 3.9 square miles / 1,894 football fields.

Generating Capacity: 250 Megawatts. Batteries: 20 Megawatts. Solar Technology: Lithium Ion batteries. Owner: City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA Power). Builder: sPower. Electric Utilities: LA Power. Feed to Grid Contract: from 2017 to 2042

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 keeps millions of pounds of carbon from the atmosphere – every day.

Springbok Solar Farm started making electricity for LA in 2016

Electricity enough for 152,000 homes / up to 650,000 people. Carbon Equivalent: 150,000 gasoline cars. Spew Prevention: 336,000 tons each year / 921 tons daily / 1,841,000 pounds daily

Location: 70 miles north of LA, in the Mojave Desert near California City, CA. Land Cover: 1,400 acres/ 2.2 square miles / 1,060 football fields.

Generating Capacity: 443 Megawatts. Batteries: 1.5 Megawatts. Solar Technology: Thin Film Cadmium Telluride Photovoltaic Panels.  Owner/Builder: 8Minute Energy. Electric Utilities: City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA Power). Feed to Grid Contract: from 2016 to 2041

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, near Las Vegas, makes all its electricity for Los Angeles.

Moapa Paiute Solar Park started making electricity for LA in 2017

Electricity enough for 111,000 homes / up to 450,000 people; Carbon Equivalent: 73,000 gasoline cars; Carbon Spew Prevention: 340,000 tons each year / 932 tons daily / 1,863,000 pounds daily

Location: 30 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada, on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Land Cover: 2,000 acres / 3.1 square miles / 1,515 football fields.

Generating Capacity: 250 Megawatts. Batteries: 20 Megawatts. Solar Technology: Cadmium Telluride Thin Film Single Axis Photovoltaic Panels. Owner: Moapa Southern Paiute Solar. Builder: First Solar. Electric Utility: Los Angeles Dept of Water & Power (LA Power). Feed to Grid Contract: from 2017 to 2042

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/