L.A. Mayor Marks Completion Of Massive Rooftop Solar Project
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently joined the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to celebrate the completion of a rooftop solar project that will generate enough renewable energy to power nearly 5,000 homes.
The 16.4 MW DC Westmont Solar Energy Project will produce more than 28 million kWh of electricity every year, making it one of the most powerful rooftop solar projects in the world.
“We are putting sustainability at the center of everything we do in Los Angeles – and that means investing boldly to expand the use of local solar and renewable energy,” said Garcetti. “While Washington buries its head in the sand, we are carrying the fight against climate change forward in our city, and the Westmont Solar Energy Project is strong evidence of our commitment to a sustainable future.”
The project is part of Los Angeles’ rooftop solar feed-in tariff (FiT) program, which enables the owners of large buildings to install solar panels on their roofs and sell the power they generate back to LADWP for distribution into the power grid.
“Our goal is to create a clean energy future for Los Angeles, and solar is a big part of our strategy,” said LADWP General Manager David H. Wright. “Along with helping spur the clean energy economy in Los Angeles and meeting renewable energy goals, the expansion of local solar builds more resiliency and reliability into the power grid. Local solar systems are like mini power plants that generate power right where it is being used, saving on transmission costs and taking advantage of the city’s abundant sunshine to help meet electrical demand.”
The Westmont project includes more than 50,000 solar panels, covering 50 acres of roof space. The project advances several of the goals outlined in Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn, including the expansion of renewable energy use and eliminating the use of coal power.
The new solar project was developed by PermaCity Solar, together with building owner BlackRock and financial partners True Green Capital and GAF. Through a partnership with EmPower America, a veteran workforce development organization, the project trained 50 veterans in project management, roofing and electrical skills.
“The way this project came together – its design, the installation and the financing – satisfies everybody,” said Jonathan Port, CEO of PermaCity Solar. “The workers get high pay, the owner gets a new roof, and the city gets the power. It’s nice when we can make all that happen.”
The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) was also a critical partner on the project.
“California has led the way in demonstrating that climate change policy and economic growth aren’t mutually exclusive,” said Mary Leslie, LABC president. “With the Westmont opening, we are once again distinguishing ourselves as national leaders capitalizing on the economic promise the FiT program has to offer.”
Unfinished Nuclear Plant Site Repurposed With Solar Farm
The site of an unfinished nuclear power plant in Tennessee has been newly energized – with solar power. North Carolina-based Birdseye Renewable Energy recently partnered with Georgia-based United Renewable Energy to design and construct a 1 MW solar farm at the site.
According to a press release from United Renewable Energy, construction of the Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant kicked off in 1978. Tucked in a bend of the Holston River near Surgoinsville, Tenn., the project was expected to revitalize the area’s economy, and the electricity it generated would reach the entire coverage area of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the release adds.
Just a few years into the project, energy demand and prices were falling. The release claims the partial nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island also triggered increased citizen concerns, along with increased costs to meet new regulatory requirements. The TVA board of directors ceased construction in 1981, and the plant was never operational.
Although an industrial park was developed nearby in the late 1980s, the release says the plant site was used only for safety training exercises until now. Today, almost 3,000 solar panels sit on four acres just outside the shadows of the gray concrete structures that were abandoned mid-construction. Rows of panels sit atop driven posts that slowly rotate to follow the sun’s path across the sky and maximize the solar energy gathered. The energy is sold to Holston Electric Cooperative as part of TVA’s Distributed Solar Solutions program.
Birdseye Renewable Energy developed and owns the solar project, and United Renewable Energy performed construction.
“It has been a true pleasure working with TVA distributor Holston Electric, the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board and United Renewable Energy. The team worked seamlessly to provide Hawkins County a notable landmark of innovation in the midst of the Phipps Bend Nuclear site. We look forward to future collaborations with TVA,” says Brian Bednar, president of Birdseye Renewable Energy.
“We are proud to work with Birdseye on this exciting project to bring solar energy to east Tennessee. Due to its location, this project visibly demonstrates how clean, efficient solar energy matches other forms of power generation to meet our country’s growing energy needs,” adds Keith Herbs, executive vice president of United Renewable Energy.
Partners Cut Ribbon On 52 MW Mississippi Solar Farm
Electric utility Mississippi Power, along with project partners D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments LLC (DESRI) and DEPCOM Power, recently held a dedication ceremony for a 52 MW solar farm in Sumrall, Miss.
The sprawling renewable energy complex features more than 215,000 photovoltaic panels on a 600-acre site. DESRI owns the plant, which DEPCOM Power built and will operate and maintain. Mississippi Power is buying the project’s output under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
“This is an important day for our company as we continue to shape the future of energy and expand our stake in renewables,” said Anthony Wilson, president and CEO of the utility, at the event. “We wouldn’t be here today without a shared vision and a great relationship with our partners.
“South Mississippi, especially this Pine Belt region, is the epicenter for the growth of utility-scale solar energy in the state,” Wilson added. “Our customers are already receiving the benefits of the energy being generated on this site.”
Former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, a Pascagoula native, was the guest speaker at the Sumrall site dedication, and he touted the development of renewable energy in Mississippi.
“This is the beginning, and it will continue to grow,” Lott said. “There are a lot of important things to like about this project. You have employed local people. You have employed veterans. This new, modern, innovative technology is located right here in Lamar County, and it is a technology that we can benefit from.”
“I want to thank Mississippi Power,” said D.E. Shaw Senior Vice President Thomas de Swardt. “The utility has been an absolute pleasure to work with. I keep my eye on the future. Senator Lott mentioned this is just the beginning. We believe in solar in the South. We are proud of this achievement, and we hope to build on this. I know that this is just the start of much more to come.”