The Clean Power Alliance community choice aggregator (CCA) announced its board authorized two long-term power purchase agreements for 273 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity. It also signed a deal for the output of a 12.8 MW hydroelectric project served by a federal dam, part of which was built over an active fault 52 miles from the epicenter of last week’s earthquakes.
The contracts, the result of a nine-month request for offers (RFO) proceeding, are for all or portions of renewable energy projects in Riverside and Kern Counties and include associated benefits such as tradable renewable energy credits and a reliability feature known as resource adequacy.
The new agreements authorized June 28 “demonstrate that Clean Power Alliance’s environmental commitments are translating into high impact investments and competitive pricing for our customers, while combatting climate change,” said Diana Mahmud, CPA Board Chair and 5th District South Pasadena City Councilmember.
South Pasadena was the first city to adopt an ordinance joining CPA, which has since grown to include 29 cities and the unincorporated portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
CPA planning documents call for a 2,590 MW capacity through 2028 and project customer demand for energy in 2030 will be 11,378 GWh. The contracts announced the other week would supply about 11 percent of the planned capacity and 7.7 percent of projected energy.
The contracts include two unbuilt but fully-permitted solar projects. These will create an estimated 500 jobs, supporting CPA’s mission to invest in a green energy workforce. CPA did not specify how many of these will be permanent versus temporary construction jobs.
The first contract is for output from NextEra Energy’s planned 233 MW Arlington Solar photovoltaic project, which in turn is a part of NextEra’s 750 MW McCoy Solar station about 13 miles northwest of Blythe, in a zone specially designated by the Bureau of Land Management for solar power.
NextEra is reserving an option to add an additional 36 MW to CPA’s share of Arlington.
The bulk of the output of the existing 250 MW facility at McCoy is sold to the Modesto Irrigation District and another 131 MW of unbuilt capacity has been contracted to an undisclosed customer.
The second CPA contract is for a 40 MW share of Clearway Energy Group’s planned 192 MW Golden Fields Solar photovoltaic project, roughly 10 miles west of Rosamond in Kern County. Clearway, which bought the project last year from NRG Energy, is developing a separate 170 MW solar project near Rosamond that is also called Golden Fields Solar.
The first 100 MW of Arlington is to begin deliveries on Dec. 31, 2021 with the remaining 133 MW coming on October 1, 2022. Golden Fields is scheduled to come on line March 31, 2021.
Arlington will generate a total of 718,220 MWh/year and Golden Fields, 114,780 MWh/year. The average California household uses about 6,600 kWh/year.
Both solar contracts have 15 year terms with fixed prices that do no escalate. CPA released unsigned copies of the contracts but redacted many of the terms, including pricing. However, it said the solar deals’ pricing is “reflected” by a first quarter 2019 benchmark for Southern California that comes to $24/MWh–equivalent to 24 cents/kWh. The benchmark was provided by the same contractor who administered CPA’s request for offers.
The third agreement is with Isabella Partners for the 12.8 MW Isabella Hydroelectric project, an existing plant located at the base of the Army Corps of Engineer’s Isabella Dam and Reservoir on the Kern River about 50 miles northeast of Bakersfield.
CPA signed a 10-year contract for Isabella commencing in 2020. Isabella Partners built the project in 1990 and holds its federal license, which expires in 2038. Most of the 48,000 MWh sold under the contract will be produced in summer, which matches CPA’s seasonal demand peak.
CPA said the fixed price for Isabella’s energy comes with no escalator and is “more competitive than other hydro offers received” under CPA’s 2018 request for long term power bids.
The project, which includes a powerhouse, 210-foot tunnel, and 1,250-foot transmission line, is an average of 52 miles west of the epicenters of last week’s two big earthquakes. Its generator is supplied with water from Lake Isabella, a reservoir formed by two, 65-year-old earthfill Army Corps dams. The project is located at the base of the main dam, a half mile west of the auxiliary dam, which was discovered in 2007 to be directly over an active fault.
The reservoir has for years been under a significant operating restriction aimed at “reducing the risk of seepage and seismic concerns while a permanent solution is implemented,” according to the Army Corps. The Corps has spent about $650 million on safety modifications at the project that it currently expects to complete in 2022.
Rick Brown, an Army Corps public affairs specialist, told the South Pasadena News that Corps personnel were out at the dam immediately after the quake and found everything looking good. “There is no damage and no changes to operations” were needed. He said the Corps continues to inspect the dam daily.
Ben Singer, the project engineer for Isabella Partners, told the South Pasadenan News the generating project has also been inspected and is “good to go. The recent earthquakes caused no damage.”
CPA’s new energy contracts are in addition to the15-year contract it signed last year with Terra-Gen for the 71,500 MWh output of six turbines totaling 21.6 MW at one of Terra-Gen’s two Voyager wind farms Tehachapi, both of which are under construction.
CPA said it is continuing to negotiate additional contracts resulting from the 2018 bidding request and will launch another round of bidding this fall.