LADWP Plans Early End to Arizona Coal Plant Interest

By Published On: November 19, 2010

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is near completing a new $45 billion integrated resources plan that would end its reliance on one distant coal power plant by 2014 in favor of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand-response programs. The plan--which seeks 33 percent renewable energy by 2020 instead of the department’s current goal of 35 percent--projects that the average retail price for power in Los Angeles would gradually rise from about 13 cents/kWh next year to 21 cents/kWh at the end of the decade. That’s a 61 percent increase. The plan comes as the Los Angeles City Council this week approved two measures for the March 2011 city ballot. The measures are aimed at controlling costs at the department in the face of a backlash against rising power and water rates. Under the final draft plan, LADWP would end its dependence on power from the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona in 2014, five years before its contractual interest in the plant expires. The muni owns 21.2 percent of the 2,250 MW facility, entitling it to about 477 MW of output. Coal-fired electricity remains in the muni’s draft plan. It contemplates maintaining reliance on the coal-fired Intermountain Power Project in Utah. LADWP’s contract there expires in 2027. By then, the department hopes to turn the area around the plant into a renewable energy hub that would send wind and solar power to Los Angeles over the existing transmission line from the coal plant. SB 1368 requires California utilities to phase out their reliance on coal power plants by not extending their contractual interest in the facilities beyond current contract expiration dates. The distant coal plants usually are operated by out-of-state utilities under partnership agreements with numerous utilities in the Southwest, including some in California. LADWP said it would make greater use of its Castaic pumped storage facility to accommodate more intermittent renewable energy in its system. The muni plans to hold a public forum on the plan November 30 before formally adopting it.

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