Energy Issues

 

 

Water and Power Associates Response to LADWP’s LA 100 Study

          LADWP has recently published the Final Report of its LA 100 Study which is a feasibility study performed by the National Renewable Energy Lab to assess four possible pathways for LADWP to become a 100% renewable energy provider.  Water and Power Associates, Inc has reviewed the Report in detail and offers the following recommendations that were developed by choosing the best features from each pathway.
 
The Study finds that the earlier the 100% target is reached, the more expensive the transition becomes.  For example, if the 100% target is reached by 2035, the cost will be 50% higher than the least expensive 2045 pathway because the hydrogen fuel technology and its supporting infrastructure that replaces natural gas may not be fully mature by 2035.  Also, prices for solar and battery storage are projected to continue to fall between 2035 and 2045, resulting in a cost savings if the 100% target year is set at 2045.  WPA highly recommends setting the target date of 2045 to reduce cost and minimize the risk of betting on as yet unproven technology that may not be realized by 2035.
 
Regardless of the pathway considered, the Study finds reaching about 90% of the 100% renewable energy target is feasible and reliable by developing more geothermal, wind, solar, and energy storage sources both internal and external to the LA Basin.  WPA recommends aggressively pursuing these renewable sources.  There is a finite number of sites suitable for development that are reasonably close to connection points in LADWP’s transmission system, so the sooner the sites are developed, the better. Transmission costs will increase if the only remaining sites are distant from existing LADWP transmission facilities.  Although cost of solar and battery energy storage will almost certainly decrease over time, this cost reduction will likely be offset by increased transmission costs unless LADWP acts quickly.
 
The Study finds the “final 10%” of annual energy not met by renewables must be met with combustion turbines inside the LA Basin capable of running for weeks.  This 10% plugs the reliability gaps that renewables cannot fill during times when, for example, winter rains eliminate local and external solar or brush fires take out transmission lines. The study also finds the turbines must be fueled with either natural gas, biofuels, or hydrogen.  WPA supports the long-term goal of fueling these turbines with hydrogen, but strongly recommends maintaining existing gas-fired generation in the LA Basin as long as necessary to successfully transition to hydrogen by 2045.  LADWP’s local gas-fired generation is one of the main reasons LADWP has maintained its reliability while other areas of the state experienced blackouts.
 
The Study finds that in order to maintain the current level of reliability, critical upgrades must be made to the existing LADWP transmission system.  WPA supports these upgrades and therein lies another reason for keeping local gas-fired generation available as long as possible.  Transmission lines must be removed from service to be upgraded, a process that can take several months to complete.  The absence of these lines weakens the local transmission system and exposes customers to reduced reliability unless local gas-fired generators remain available.
 

WPA believes the strategy outlined above will create a new renewable energy system with the lowest cost, will first tackle the problems involving the longest lead-times such as renewable siting and permitting, and will maintain the high reliability on which LADWP customers have come to depend.

 

March 30, 2021

 

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Ensure Grid Reliability During the Transition to a Clean Energy Future

          The Water and Power Associates supports the City’s goal of a 100% clean energy supply, and we believe the plan put forth by LADWP management is critical to maintaining reliable electric service during the challenging transition period ahead. The Water and Power Associates, a 501(c)4 non-profit corporation, was established in 1971 to inform and educate its members, public officials and the general public on critical water and energy issues affecting the citizens of Los Angeles, Southern California and the State of California.  Our members have decades of experience and understand the complexity of the electric grid, physical assets and operational practices which ensure service to residents and businesses day in and day out, regardless of most foreseeable contingencies.

          Customers expect an endless supply of electric energy at their homes or businesses, whenever they turn on a switch, start an air conditioner, or plug in an electric vehicle.  And utilities have an obligation to serve, and must build, operate, maintain or procure all the wires, equipment, and generation needed to serve demand.  All of these assets require large capital investments, have long lead times to implement, and often face various degrees of opposition.  Few people are aware that when California experiences several days of state-wide prolonged heat, referred to as heat storms by grid operators, that on such days the wind rarely blows, yet power demand reaches peak levels.

          State mandated “Once-Through Cooling” regulations necessitate the replacement of existing coastal generation units.  After numerous studies by experts in the field, staff recommended building new, lower-emitting natural gas fueled generation in the southern areas of the LADWP service area.  Some environmental advocates, with a singular focus on implementing renewable power, have opposed this approach.  The studies, however, found this to be the only feasible option for maintaining electric reliability.  Other options, such as building additional High Voltage transmission which would take decades, are not feasible and do not address the need for local generation for grid stability and voltage support.  Battery storage is not feasible due to space requirements for the capacity needed, is not cost effective today, and has its own environmental impacts, such as hazardous waste disposal.  Natural gas generation will provide the required flexibility to start or stop in order to coordinate with the variable output of wind and solar resources, and eliminate the possibility of energy brownouts with adverse impacts on the safety and wellbeing of LADWP’s customers.  Also keep in mind that natural gas generation may be able to bridge to hydrogen fuel as technology and delivery systems develop over time.

           The transition to Clean Energy is complex and will take time.  Staff has performed the necessary planning studies and processes involving myriad stakeholders.  The Associates urge you to consider the information that has been assembled with the careful evaluation of options and support the LADWP staff recommendation.

 

February 10, 2019

 

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Position Letter on Solar Feed in Tariff (FiT)

 

The Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners
111 N. Hope Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

 

Re:  Board of Water and Power Commissioners Action regarding Solar Feed in Tariffs

 

Commissioners,

It is the understanding of the Water and Power Associates that the duty of the Rate Payer Advocate is to provide independent analysis to the Board on its actions that will, among other things, affect rates.

It is the Associates further understanding that Mr. Fred Pickel, the Rate Payer Advocate, has recommended to the Board of Commissioners that it delay the pricing guidelines for LADWP’s Solar Feed in Tariff (FiT) program until there is a more adequate understanding of its impacts on the citizens of the City and the Department of Water and Power.

However, the Board, at its June 20, 2013 meeting, elected to set aside the Rate Payer Advocate’s recommendation on the FiT program , despite what appears to be strong evidence that the costs are not consistent with ( i.e. significantly higher than) other FiT programs in California.  

The Associates are not privy to all the facts or discussions that led to the  Board’s decision but believe that decision may well  have long-term consequences on the increasing cost of electricity for the City’s ratepayers, its residents and businesses.

In light of other significant costs that will compel the Department's Power System to seek increases  to the electric rates over the next few years, we believe that before the ratepayers are asked to pay the bill they deserve to have full disclosure of the benefits and costs of the FiT program.

Accordingly, we recommend that your Board, as public policy and prior to the award of any contracts under the FiT program, be thoroughly briefed by Department management on the issues raised by the Rate Payer Advocate.

 

Sincerely,

 

Edward A. Schlotman, President 

Water and Power Associates, Inc.

 

Cc: Fred Pickel                                                
DWP GM                                                       
Sr. Assist GM, Power
Mayor
City Council

July 1, 2013

 

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Position on Once-Through Cooling

 

Click HERE for W&PA's position on State Lands Commission Proposed Rule on Once-Through Cooling