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LADWP Commissions Desert Solar Plant

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Workers install solar modules at the Adelanto site | Photo courtesy LADWP

Though it's been generating power for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) since the end of June, a ceremony this morning marked the official opening of the 10-megawatt Adelanto Solar Power Station, in the high desert town of Adelanto just outside Hesperia.

A 10-megawatt capacity may seem minuscule compared to other solar facilities planned for the California desert that will be 30 to 100 times larger at completion, but the Adelanto plant bears the distinction of being the largest solar facility built and operated by a municipal utility. The 42-acre facility is DWP's first utility-scale solar plant.

The Adelanto facility was built adjacent to DWP's Adelanto Switching Station, which connects the utility's distribution grid to the 1,900-megawatt coal-fired Intermountain Power Plant in Delta, Utah as well as about 100 megawatts of Utah-based wind turbines.

"The Adelanto Solar Power Project is a key component of LADWP's solar component of our power supply transformation, as we increase renewable energy delivered to customers from the current 20% level to 33% by 2020," DWP General Manager Ronald
Nichols said in a DWP press release.

DWP has taken some mild heat on its renewables portfolio in the last week: as we reported here July 17, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) faulted DWP last week for acquiring too large a share of its renewable energy through short- and medium-term contracts in 2010. The group maintains that such contracts do little to promote the growth of renewable energy. DWP's building and operating its own renewable energy installation may well assuage some of the UCS's concerns.

At the commissioning ceremony, the DWP announced that it was building an 8.5-megawatt solar installation at the beleaguered Pine Tree Wind Farm in the Tehachapi Mountains. DWP's 150 megawatts of wind turbines there have been implicated in the deaths of more than the usual number of protected golden eagles.

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