Tag Archives: Utility-scale Solar

Los Angeles’s Low-Priced Solar Power Has Problems Coming Its Way

By Cassie McCorkle, Energy Industry Reports

It has been more than a month that Los Angeles has signed a contract for record-cheap solar power and the officials are trying to deny it. The labor union is concerned over Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to put an end to the three gas-fired power plants. It has been clearly mentioned in the 25-year contract signed with 8minute Solar Energy that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will pay 2 cents per kilowatt-hour or lower. This is the lowest price ever waged for solar power in the US and it is lower than the cost of electricity generated from the natural gas-fired power plant. The Eland project has 200 Megawatts of lithium-ion batteries planned other than the 400 Megawatts of solar power to store solar power for a complete day and to let it into the grid for 4 Hours each night.

The combined payment of L.A. payers for solar power could be 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. The concerns of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 have forced the City Council to not approve the contract. IBEW Local 18 is concerned that Garcetti’s “Green New Deal” initiative has shutdown 3 coastal gas plants and would result in unemployment of 400 LADWP workers. The workers consider Garcetti’s plans to create unemployment and increase electricity prices. Others may consider the current plan as a childlike proposal but as per the Mayor, the Eland project may not replace the large plants instead can help reduce the dependency on gas. The pricing of 8minute that relies on the federal investment tax credit for solar energy is expected to drop by 26% by this year end. By December, the company plans to start construction to be eligible for the 30% tax credit.

Similarly, a 500 MW project is on its way to construction, as per the Kern County Board of Supervisors. This new project is the one more addition to the long list of large projects taking place in California. This project is a part of the Eland 1 Solar Project: 8minutenergy. The project will be started only after the Eland 1 Solar is approved.

Read full article from Energy Industry Reports

Related Articles: 

 

LA & 8Minute Solar ink lowest cost solar-plus-storage deal in U.S. history

By Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has signed a groundbreaking 25-year power purchase agreement with 8Minute Solar. The deal will make possible the largest municipal solar plus storage facility in the US. But the best part is the combined price for solar energy plus storage is just 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, the lowest ever in the US and cheaper than electricity from a natural gas powered generating plant.

The electricity will come from a massive solar power plant located on 2000 acres of undeveloped desert in Kern County, just 70 miles from the city. Known as the Eland Solar and Storage Center, it will be built in two stages of 200 MW each, with the first coming online in 2022 and the second phase scheduled to be switched on the following year.

Los Angeles DWP will take 375 MWac of solar power coupled with 385.5 MW/1,150 MWh of energy storage, according to PV Magazine. Neighboring Glendale Water and Power will take 25 MWac of solar plus 12.5 MW/50 MWh of energy. The electricity from Eland I and II is expected to meet between 6 and 7% of Los Angeles’ needs, according to PV Magazine.

The Eland Solar & Storage Center has been engineered by 8minute to provide fully dispatchable power under control of the LADWP to meet its customers’ demands with reliable and cost-effective power — a capability previously reserved for large fossil fuel power plants. Eland’s ability to provide fully dispatchable power for less than the traditional cost of fossil fuels effectively positions solar PV as an attractive candidate to be the primary source of California’s 100% clean energy future.

Read full article from CleanTechnica

Related Articles: 

 

Los Angeles has lined up record-cheap solar power. But there’s a problem

By Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles has been sitting on a contract for record-cheap solar power for more than a month — and city officials declined to approve it Tuesday because of concerns raised by the city-run utility’s labor union, which is still fuming over Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to shut down three gas-fired power plants.

Under the 25-year contract with developer 8minute Solar Energy, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power would pay less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour — a number city officials and independent experts say would be the lowest price ever paid for solar power in the United States, and cheaper than the cost of electricity from a typical natural gas-fired power plant.

In addition to 400 megawatts of solar power, the Eland project would include at least 200 megawatts of lithium-ion batteries, capable of storing solar power during the day and injecting it into the grid for four hours each night. The combined price to L.A. ratepayers of the solar and storage would be 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour — also a record low for this type of contract.

But LADWP’s Board of Commissioners voted not to send the contract to the City Council for approval, after utility staff said concerns had been raised by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which represents utility employees. In recent months, IBEW Local 18 has run television and radio ads attacking Garcetti’s Green New Deal initiative, which includes the retirement of three coastal gas plants that employ more than 400 LADWP workers.

…The Eland project, which is planned for the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles, wouldn’t replace those gas plants. But it could help L.A. reduce its reliance on gas, which has become California’s largest electricity source as utilities look for evening power sources to fill in for solar after the sun goes down.

Read full article in the Los Angeles Times

Local residents band together to fight Cambria solar panel project

By Connor Hoffman, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

They come from different backgrounds and hold a wide variety of political beliefs. The one thing they do have in common is a dislike for a plan that they fear could have a negative and long-lasting impact on the fabric of their community.

“We’re regular Joe Shmoes,” said Ed Saleh, one of more than 200 members of the group called Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar. “We are Independents. We are Democrats. We are Republicans. It doesn’t matter what party line we are. We’re everybody. We’re the forgotten people of New York state.”

Saleh and dozens of his neighbors have banded together in an effort to stop the development of a 900-acre solar project which has been proposed by the company Cypress Creek Renewables.

Cypress Creek Renewables, a company with corporate offices in California and North Carolina, has proposed the Bear Ridge Solar Project, which involves the proposed leasing of 900 acres of private land throughout a 5,000-acre project area in southern Cambria and a portion of northern Pendleton. The developers plan to install solar panels mounted in rows on racking systems up to 12 feet high. The panels would be visible from a distance of about 1-1/2 miles, including from sites on Bear Ridge Road and IDA Park Drive in Lockport.

Read full article in the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

The Looming Bankruptcy Battle Over PG&E’s Renewable Energy Contracts

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

If Pacific Gas & Electric goes bankrupt, who gets final say over whether it can renegotiate its old and expensive solar power-purchase agreements — federal regulators or the bankruptcy court?

This multibillion-dollar question has come to the fore as PG&E, overwhelmed by tens of billions of dollars in potential wildfire liabilities, prepares to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as early as tomorrow.

Last week, PG&E solar provider NextEra asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use its authority under the Federal Power Act to order the utility not to “abrogate, amend or reject in bankruptcy any of the rates, terms and conditions of its wholesale power-purchase agreements,” including hundreds of megawatts of decade-old solar farms that are selling power at far above today’s market rates. Consolidated Edison, which counts PG&E as an offtaker for nearly one-third of its renewable energy portfolio, also weighed in last week to ask FERC to expedite NextEra’s request.

Late Friday, FERC offered these companies a lifeline, with an order declaring that it has “concurrent jurisdiction” with federal bankruptcy courts over whether utilities in bankruptcy can breach their contracts. But PG&E, even though it hasn’t filed for bankruptcy yet, maintains that a bankruptcy court, not FERC, should decide which PPAs and other power-purchase contracts it can breach and which it can’t. 

Read full article from Greentech Media

Opinion: The Phony Numbers Behind California’s Solar Mandate

By Steve Sexton, The Wall Street Journal

California’s energy regulators effectively cooked the books to justify their recent command that all homes built in the Golden State after 2020 be equipped with solar panels. Far from a boon to homeowners, the costs to builders and home buyers will likely far exceed the benefits to the state.

The California Energy Commission, which approved the rule as part of new energy-efficiency regulations, didn’t conduct an objective, independent investigation of the policy’s effects. Instead it relied on economic analysis from the consultancy that proposed the policy, Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. Its study concluded that home buyers get a 100% investment return—paying $40 more in monthly mortgage costs but saving $80 a month on electricity. If it’s such a good deal, why aren’t home buyers clamoring for more panels already? Most new homes aren’t built with solar panels today, even though the state is saturated by solar marketing.

The Energy Commission is too optimistic about the cost of panels. It assumes the cost was $2.93 a watt in 2016 and will decline 17% by 2020. Yet comprehensive analysis of panel costs by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated the average cost of installed panels to be $4.50 a watt for the 2- to 4-kilowatt systems the policy mandates. That is $4,000 more than regulators claim for a 2.6-kilowatt model system in the central part of the state, where 20% of new homes are expected to be built. Berkeley Lab further estimates that costs fell a mere 1% between 2015 and 2016, far short of the 4% average annual decline the regulators predict.

Now consider the alleged savings on energy bills. The commission’s analysis assumes California will maintain its net energy-metering policy, which effectively subsidizes electricity produced by a rooftop solar panel…

Read full op-ed in the Wall Street Journal

 

Utility-Scale Solar Surpasses Wind in California for First Time in 2015

Recent analysis from Vaisala, a global leader in environmental and industrial measurement, reveals that in 2015 energy from grid-connected, utility-scale solar plants surpassed wind for the first time in California. While this is an exciting milestone for the solar industry, the rise of solar also brings with it a demand for better forecasting information to cope with the challenges that the increase in variable generation poses to the regional energy system.

California has been a national leader in renewables since first establishing its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2002, and, with a 50% RPS mandate recently signed into law, it is likely to maintain its position for years to come. Today the state is still one of the largest U.S. wind markets in terms of capacity, but the exponential growth of large-scale solar in recent years has considerably altered the structure of the regional energy market.

Public records from CAISO (California Independent System Operator) indicate that over the past five years, grid-connected, utility-scale solar generation in California increased fifteen-fold. It went from a total of 1,000 GWh in 2011 to an impressive 15,592 GWh in 2015, composing 6.7% of the system total and surpassing wind for the first time, which made up 5.3% of the system total.

Read full press release from Vaisala

Yikes! Is California’s interest in Solar Energy Collapsing?

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released their US Solar Market Insight 2015 Year in Review on Wednesday, March 9. We’ve been tracking their PV capacity reports for the past several years, and in the figure below we plot the 2015 capacity increases reported in their Executive Summary.

While there was strong national growth in installation capacity this past year, California’s capacity additions were less than in 2014. After a couple years of providing over half the annual capacity additions in the country (57% last year), California’s share has fallen to a mere 45%.

 Annual PV Installations: California and U.S. Total (2010-2015)

Annual PV Installations: California & U.S. Total (2010-2015)

We picked ourselves up off the floor and asked “What is happening; is this for real?” So we called GTM Research and checked other sources to find out what in the world was going on. Turns out that despite the disastrous looking change, solar growth in California remains alive and well.
Turns out the primary reason for the downturn is a sharp decline in Utility-scale PV projects. According to GTM, these additions fell to the vicinity of 1800 MW last year. [I wish we could afford the $2000 – $6000 for the full report that our SEIA Membership entitles us to so that we could access all the GTM data. But we live in lean times and use information from diverse public sources such as US Energy Information Agency (EIA) and California Energy Commission (CEC) as well as GTM’s summaries to inform our understanding.]

According to EIA information published in late February, it appears that Utility-scale solar PV expanded by 2000 MW in 2014, but only 1100 MW (preliminary) in 2015. Data from diverse sources rarely match-up year-to-year, but the trends are identical—California’s utility-scale PV installations experienced a sharp reduction in 2015.

After checking the CEC’s most recent Tracking Progress, Renewable Energy-Overview, we can see why—the utility industry is ahead of target for meeting the state’s 2016 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) 25% goal. The industry achieved almost 25% renewables in 2014! The state added approximately 4000 MW of utility scale PV capacity between 2013 and 2015. Utilities are meeting their target early; the apparent slowdown is a temporary pause while utilities work on the installations that will get the state to 33% renewable electricity by 2020.

Distributed generation activity remains strong in California, both in the Residential and Non-Residential segments. The state’s residential customers generated demand for approximately 1000 MW of installations—almost half the national total of 2100 MW. And other distributed generation customers (eg, commercial rooftops) account for about another 300 MW.

So for the first time in years, California’s share of new solar PV installation is now less than half the national total. Good news! The rest of the country is waking up to the benefits of solar energy with capacity increasing in numerous states. The Utility sector is leading this expansion, while the residential sector growth is accelerating. We’re pleased to see this expansion.

A Sunny Future for Utility-Scale Solar

By John Finnigan, The Energy Collective

Utility-scale solar and distributed solar both have an important role to play in reducing greenhouse emissions, and both have made great strides in the past year.

Utility-scale solar, the focus of this article, is reaching “grid parity” (i.e., cost equivalency) with traditional generation in more areas across the country. And solar received a major boost when the federal tax incentive was recently extended through 2021. The amount of the incentive decreases over time, but the solar industry may be able to offset the lower tax incentive if costs continue to decline. New changes in policy and technology may further boost its prospects.

Some of the world’s largest solar plants came on-line in the U.S. during the past year, such as the 550-megawatt (MW) Topaz Solar plant in San Luis Obispo County, California and the 550MW Desert Sunlight plant in Desert Center, California. Last year saw a record increase in the amount of new utility-scale solar photovoltaic generation installed – about four gigawatts (GW), a whopping 38 percent increase over 2013, and enough solar power to supply electricity to 1.2 million homes. This number is expected to increase in 2015 when the final numbers are in.

Read complete article from The Energy Collective

California’s Chief Utility Regulator: The Future Grid Is All About ‘Distributed Decision-Making’

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

Michael Picker has spent part of his 11 months as president of the California Public Utilities Commission managing the aftermath of the alleged misdeeds of his predecessor. But as he oversees some of the biggest changes to California energy policy in over a decade, he’s also spent a good deal of time explaining his vision for greening the state with distributed energy, along with the distributed decision-making to make it work for the grid.

Since he was appointed in December, Picker has been stressing certain key policy philosophies for how the CPUC can help the state reach its carbon reduction and green energy goals. These include a preference for market-based solutions over technology mandates, a heavy emphasis on electric vehicles as part of the mix, and an enthusiasm for technologies that can manage lots and lots of distributed energy resources (DERs) in concert with the grid as a whole.

In a series of talks this month, Picker declined to discuss details of big proceedings under review, such as the CPUC’s net-metering reform, which has pitted the solar industry against the state’s big three investor-owned utilities. But he did sketch out a plan for managing the inevitable growth of intermittent renewable energy, whether from millions of rooftops or ever-cheaper utility-scale solar and wind projects.

Read full article from Greentech Media