Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed two contracts Thursday that will expand the city's use of solar energy -- enough to power nearly 200,000 homes -- and help it close down a coal plant.
One agreement for 25 years would let the city purchase solar power from a project on Native American tribal land in Nevada to help the city Department of Water and Power increase its use of clean energy.
The $1.6 billion project at the Moapa Band of Paiute reservation near Las Vegas will generate enough power for 118,000 homes in Los Angeles and help the city reach its goal of having 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2016 and 33 percent by 2020.
"These solar contracts are proof positive that environmental progress and economic growth go hand-in-hand," Villaraigosa said. "It is high time Los Angeles kicked its addiction to dirty coal energy, and I am proud we are setting an example for a successful, cost-efficient transition to renewable energy."
DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said the contracts, along with plans for other programs such as a feed-in tariff and the purchase of land in the California high desert, will help the city establish one of the largest such programs among utilities nationwide.
"It is a major step forward in our efforts to secure more renewable energy in a cost-effective manner," Nichols said.
The program will help the Moapa Band end its reliance on coal as well as reduce the city's own need.
Los Angeles has received 40 percent of its power from coal plants in Arizona and Utah.
The agreement with Moapa is for up to 250 megawatts of power.
A second agreement was signed for 210 megawatts from the Copper Mountain Solar 3 project near Boulder City, Nev., developed by an affiliate of Sempra U.S. Gas and Power.
The Sempra contract costs $95.7 million for 20 years and generates enough power for 75,000 homes. An eight-mile generating line will be built to connect the solar with transmission lines in Boulder City, Nev.
"Mayor Villaraigosa's announcement today that the city of Los Angeles will be purchasing solar power from the Moapa band of Paiutes promotes environmental justice and also sets a strong example for how American cities can help defeat climate disruption," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
Mary Leslie of the Los Angeles Business Council also praised the proposal.
"Once again Los Angeles is demonstrating leadership in promoting a clean energy economy," Leslie said. "Through these contracts, the LADWP is spurring private sector investment, creating jobs, and helping reduce Los Angeles' carbon footprint."
DWP officials said the agreement will require the agency to build a 5.5 million transmission line on federal lands, estimated to cost $18 million. The project is expected to add an additional 80 cents a month to the average residential bill. The City Council also has approved rate increases of 11.1 percent for power, which is expected to add $3.65 a month to residential bills.
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