8minute Solar Energy to develop largest solar and battery storage project in the U.S. for municipal utility in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP),  the largest municipal water and power utility in the Unites States announced the approval of two power purchase agreements with U.S. developer of solar PV and storage projects, 8minute Solar Energy, to develop the Eland Solar and Storage Center, which will be the largest solar and battery energy storage system in the United States.

The Eland Solar and Storage Center, which is expected to begin commercial operation no later than December 31, 2023, will be 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 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 (kWh) for solar power, the lowest price offered in U.S. history. 8Minutenergy will also 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.

Located on 2,650 acres in Kern County, California, the project will include two large-scale solar facilities that will capture 400 megawatts (MW) of solar energy and store up to 1,200 megawatt-hours (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 development of the Eland Solar and Storage Center is a direct result of the zero-carbon vision laid out in Mayor Garcetti’s Green New Deal — and 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.

Currently, 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%. That would enable the City to prevent up to 727,360 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from a conventional fossil fuel power plant — the equivalent of taking 148,700 cars off the road for a year.

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).

Mayor Eric Garcetti said:

“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. 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.”

LADWP Interim General Manager Martin L. Adams said:

“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. Among other benefits, the project will bridge the gap between day and night, dramatically increasing the operational value of the project.”

Evan Gillespie, Western Director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign stated:

“Southern California gets a lot of sunshine, and now that sunshine is going to power our lives rain or shine, night or day. 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.”

8minute Solar Energy  has over 15 GW of solar and storage under development in California, the Southwest, Texas, and the Southeast, with more than 1.5 GW of solar power plants now in operation. The company has also developed the largest solar plant in the nation, the 800 MW Mount Signal solar farm in California.

When the Eland cluster comes online in 2023, 8minute will be the largest provider of clean energy to Los Angeles—supplying enough clean power for more than a million people throughout LA County. With a projected annual production capacity of more than 1.7 billion kWh, Eland will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 1.2 million metric tons each year, equivalent to taking nearly 150,000 cars off the streets.

Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, President and CEO of 8minute said:

“This is what the future of energy looks like and we’re thrilled to be co-creating that future in collaboration with our fellow innovators at LADWP and the labor community. Together, thanks to Eland’s advanced storage and dispatch capabilities, we’re working to dispel misconceptions about the availability, reliability, and long-term viability of clean solar power. Utilizing existing transmission infrastructure to an extent never before seen for solar power plants, allows for the rapid expansion of clean energy projects while saving the ratepayer money. It’s a huge win—for the city of Los Angeles, the people of California, and workers as well as a game-changer for the renewable energy industry.”

Source: Press Release by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and 8minute Solar Energy. Image Credit: Omar Bárcena via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0). Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) building.