LADWP is moving forward with a comprehensive plan to green the grid through a steady and deliberate process of increasing its use of renewable energy and reducing fossil fuel-based resources, including replacing coal with alternate types of energy that can generate power continuously. Concurrently, the LADWP promotes energy efficiency and conservation among customers and throughout its internal operations. LADWP also offers customers the opportunity to pay a little more so that a portion of their energy comes exclusively from green power. All of these efforts are designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel power plants while stimulating new jobs and economic growth in green energy and related industries.


Renewable Energy

Renewable energy chart

LADWP’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a roadmap to generate an increasing percentage of energy delivered to customers from renewable resources, including wind, solar, small hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass. LADWP’s RPS program focuses on investing in renewable energy at a consistent and sustainable rate. Primarily, the LADWP looks at developing renewable resources that it owns or has an option to own and operate. To minimize the cost and environmental impact of renewable energy development, the LADWP concentrates on developing renewable generation close to its existing transmission lines, thus maximizing the use of its own property.

LADWP has dramatically increased its renewable energy mix. In 2003, renewable energy accounted for 3% of the energy delivered to its customers. In 2010, the LADWP met its aggressive goal by delivering 20% renewable energy to customers, achieving a major milestone.

Wind Energy

On June 1, 2010, the LADWP completed the expansion of its Pine Tree Wind Farm in the Tehachapi Mountains. The wind power plant—which began commercial operation on June 14, 2009—now features a total of 90, 1.5-megawatt (MW) turbines, generating up to 135 megawatts of clean, green wind power for Los Angeles. That amount of energy serves over 63,600 households in Los Angeles while reducing 215,000 tons of greenhouses gases per year—about the same as removing 41,330 cars from the road.

With the advent of the Pine Tree Wind Farm, the LADWP boosted its renewable energy to 14% of all retail power sales in 2009. Other wind projects that came online in 2009 and 2010 include the Willow Creek Wind Project in Oregon, producing 72 MW; Milford Corridor Wind Farm in Utah, generating 200 MW; and the Windy Point Project in Washington State, which generates up to 262 MW. LADWP also receives 68.7 MW from the Pebble Springs Wind Project in Oregon.

Solar Energy

With almost 300 days of sunny skies each year, solar power is the city’s most abundant renewable energy resource, and is a vital strategy to green the grid. Solar energy is most available during sunny afternoons, which often coincide with peak-demand periods when electricity is most expensive and puts the most strain on electric infrastructure. By building out solar power, both as distributed generation (usually through solar photovoltaic panels built on customer rooftops that directly serve their load) and utility-scale power plants, the LADWP will develop a sustainable, carbon-free “peaking resource” alternative to natural gas-fired generation.

Another major benefit of solar power is that this renewable resource can be developed right in Los Angeles, with no need to build additional transmission. Expanding solar power for Los Angeles will also help jumpstart the city’s economy and grow local green jobs.

The major components of the LADWP’s solar program include:

In-Basin Solar: Utilizing LADWP’s highly trained and qualified labor force, the program is expected to achieve up to 50 MW by the end of 2010 and, based on available funding, 400 MW by 2014. Learn more about In-Basin Solar

Feed-In Tariff (FiT): LADWP is studying a FiT Program that would allow third-party solar power providers to sell a portion of their energy to LADWP at a set price. These “grid-connected” solar systems would help widen the solar market in Los Angeles and stimulate the local economy. To learn more, go to Feed-In Tariff Program.

Solar Incentive Program (SB1): Since its inception in 1999, the LADWP has provided over $85 million in incentive payments to help customers build close to 25 MW of solar power on their rooftops. To learn more, go to Solar Incentive Program .

Large-Scale Solar: Taking advantage of some of the world’s best solar resource areas, the LADWP’s long-range plans include procuring up to 500 MW of utility-scale solar power projects developed under agreements with third-party solar developers. As with other renewable energy projects, these “out-of-basin” solar systems will leverage existing infrastructure wherever possible, including feeding into LADWP-owned transmission lines.

Solar Shines on Owens Valley: The Owens Valley offers a unique opportunity for solar development. Identified as having some of the greatest solar potential of any area in the world. LADWP has been working with Owens Valley stakeholders and regulatory agencies on laying the groundwork for developing this rich solar resource, making sure to steer clear of environmentally sensitive areas.

LADWP is also exploring the feasibility of directly installing solar panels on the Owens Dry Lake as a means of creating additional solar power for Los Angeles, while saving precious water that is now being used for dust mitigation on the lake. A demonstration project is underway to test whether solar is an acceptable means of dust mitigation, as well as to provide a true cost assessment of installing solar on the Owens Lake.

Energy Storage

One of the biggest challenges of incorporating renewable energy into the grid is the fact that most renewables are intermittent resources, generating power only when the sun shines or the wind blows, for instance. One solution is to develop technologies that allow for storing energy away from the grid for later use. LADWP currently is evaluating the feasibility of two such projects:

  • A local battery manufacturer produces Lithium ion batteries, which are in use at a LADWP distribution station. These batteries have a longer life cycle than conventional lead acid batteries.
  • Storage of energy in the battery will allow for use as a demand response tool, providing opportunity for the energy to be released back to the grid when needed.

Modernizing In-Basin Generation

As the LADWP moves toward a greener future, it must address its aging generation and transmission resources. There is an urgent need to upgrade existing generating units located at both Haynes and Scattergood Generating Stations. Most of these units were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s and are approaching the end of their service lives. Through the process known as “repowering,” older, higher polluting units at Haynes and Scattergood will be replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment that conserves fuel, and reduces GHG and nitrogen oxide emissions, and other environmental impacts. The new units are also needed to provide transitional energy as the LADWP integrates more renewable resources into its grid. The projects at Haynes and Scattergood are part of a massive modernization program that the LADWP has been undertaking at all four in-basin power plants over the past decade. As a result of more than $1 billion spent on upgrading Haynes and Valley Generating Stations, the LADWP has reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by over 90% in the Los Angeles Basin.

Among other environmental benefits, the modernization projects will reduce the amount of ocean water used to cool the power plants. Over the past 15 years, the LADWP has reduced the number of generating units that utilize ocean water cooling from 14 to 9 and has plans to eliminate this cooling method in more of its units.

Reducing Power Losses from the Grid

LADWP continues to seek out opportunities to minimize energy losses from the system; currently, the transmission lines lose about 7% of the energy they carry. Any losses avoided will result in benefits to the transmission grid. LADWP is working on a number of projects designed to reduce power losses, including modifying transmission lines, increasing the size of cables and improving the efficiency of transformers.

Leveraging Existing Infrastructure and Proximity of Transmission Lines

To deliver energy from outlying generating plants to customers, the LADWP owns and/or operates an extensive transmission and distribution system, including approximately 20,000 miles of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) transmission and distribution circuits that span five western states. LADWP’s major transmission lines connect to generating resources in Northern California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. In order to reduce costs and environmental impacts, the LADWP leverages this transmission infrastructure to connect to renewable energy. Three innovative projects are under development to accomplish this objective:

Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project: This project provides new transmission access and transmission line upgrades that are needed to accommodate proposed wind projects in the Tehachapi area and solar thermal projects in the Mojave Desert, totaling nearly 1,000 MW. To learn more, go to Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project .

Southern Transmission System (STS) Upgrade Project: LADWP plans to increase capacity of the STS from 1,920 megawatts to 2,400 megawatts by upgrading and modifying high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electrical equipment that converts power between alternating current and direct current at both ends of the line. The STS is owned by the Intermountain Power Authority and operated by the LADWP.

Strategic aspects of the project include using new technology in the LADWP transmission system to accommodate wind energy, which is produced intermittently. LADWP will begin using technology that was studied in Europe to support the increased amounts of wind and solar energy moved through the European transmission system.

Pacific Direct Current Intertie (PDCI) Proposed Upgrade Study: LADWP is evaluating options for enhancing the PDCI transmission system, a high-voltage, direct current line that extends from Sylmar north to the Oregon-Washington border and brings hydroelectric and wind power to Los Angeles. The project would upgrade the line from the existing 3,100 MW to a maximum capability of 3,650 MW.