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DWP Weighs Proposals on Green Power

Agency solicits ideas in part to learn if they are financially feasible as it tries to increase its use of renewable energy from 3% to 20% by 2017.

September 18, 2004|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has received more than 40 proposals for renewable energy projects, including windmills, landfill-gas plants and solar farms, as it moves to boost the amount of green power it produces.

"We had an overwhelming response," Henry Martinez, acting general manager of the department, said Friday.

City officials said the proposals represented an important step in efforts to increase the amount of renewable energy in Los Angeles' electricity portfolio from 3% now to 20% by 2017.

"I am pleased to see the great response," Mayor James K. Hahn said. "This is an important milestone in meeting our goal of developing more renewable power resources."

Environmentalists said they would be watching to see whether the proposals were put in place.

"This will be a test of how committed they are," said Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California, which advocates renewable power. "If they are truly committed, they will find some good contracts to approve."

The city sought formal proposals in part to determine how much more renewable energy will cost than cheap coal power.

"We felt it was time to get the real numbers so we can talk to our ratepayers," Martinez said. "We have to look at the feasibility and the cost now."

Agency officials recently proposed a surcharge to pay for the additional cost of adding green power.

The surcharge would be phased in over 12 years and would not add much more than $3 to the average residential bill under a cap being considered by city officials.

The final figure will be calculated based on the proposals received by the agency as of the Sept. 13 deadline.

DWP officials refused to say Friday whether the proposals would provide electricity at a feasible cost, saying that they were just beginning their review.

They also refused to identify the companies that submitted proposals or the location of the proposed electricity plants.

The department would only say that the renewable energy proposals cover a broad spectrum of sources, including wind, geothermal, solar, small hydro, landfill gas, biomass and municipal solid waste.

"The majority of proposals involve wind and geothermal," Martinez said.

Some of the projects could be developed in the Los Angeles area and California, while others are proposed for out of state, officials said.

Martinez said he believed the proposals were enough to cover the 1.32 million megawatt-hours per year of additional renewable energy that the DWP would like to acquire by the end of 2010.

By then, the city hopes to meet an interim goal of having 13% of its power come from renewable energy.

City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who is chairman of the committee overseeing the DWP, said in a statement that the proposals meant the department was "on track with this important new direction."

DWP officials will recommend which proposals to pursue by November, with the idea of signing the first contracts in January or February, Martinez said.

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