Under the 25-year contract with developer Solar Energy 8minute, the city would purchase electricity from a vast complex of solar panels and lithium-ion batteries in the Mojave Desert in Kern County, about two hours north of Los Angeles. The Eland project would cover 6 to 7% of L.A.`s annual electricity needs and would be able to inject clean energy into the grid for four hours per night. The Eland project is separate from the efforts to close gas-fired power plants, although it indicates a new approach to network planning. 8 minutes, the solar panels will be paired with large batteries with a total capacity of up to 300 megawatts to provide clean production on demand. By moving solar electricity in the evening, the facility would reduce the need to rely on peak gas or hydroelectric power to meet peak demand. The agreement was not reached in a vote on Tuesday, after the stadtwerke union expressed reservations about the project, the L.A. Times reported. The Ministry of Water and the Board of Directors of the L.A. Commissions voted 2 to 1 for the Eland Solar Project, but with one member abstaining and absent, it could not clarify the required majority. IBEW Local 18 did not respond to an email request for comment. The union told The Times that “concerns” about the solar project should be raised, but did not describe in detail the nature of the problems. DWP officials say they are shifting their focus to clean energy for night use, with projects like Eland. Activists spoke of the threat of major wildfires and other effects of climate change, saying Los Angeles could set a bold example for the rest of the country and the world by rapidly enerating fossil fuels.
One example is the approval of a solar contract for a project that will employ union workers. Since the Commission`s vote, 8minute has been working with IBEW to clarify that all construction trades will employ California workers under project work contracts, McKay said. Concerns about the use of extra-state work were addressed at the hearing. The 8min Solar Energy Eland project will produce 400 megawatts when completed in 2023 and provide four additional hours of electricity at night from storage batteries. The Eland project will receive another shot; it is now scheduled for a new hearing on September 10. But the low price – $19.97 per megawatt-hour for solar power under a 25-year power purchase contract – is based on the start of construction this year, before the 30 percent federal tax credit retracts. This means that it will be imperative to resolve the controversy quickly so that construction can be mobilized. “While we were disappointed that the project was not approved yesterday, we are confident that the issues raised will be resolved quickly,” Jeff McKay, 8minute`s marketing director, wrote in an email Wednesday.
“We firmly believe that this project is a win-win situation for all concerned.” According to Markley, the Eland solar project would help Los Angeles reduce its dependence on gas. The agreement faces an outstanding scenario for the start of construction this year where the city could lose all the utility of a federal investment tax credit. “My problems didn`t turn around last time – someone said “our boss – whether he`s on board or not,”” said Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill, referring to the powerful top manager of IBEW Local 18, Brian D`Arcy.