The current population of the “Golden State,” California is estimated to be 39.75 million people. In March 2019, state utilities used renewable energy (56.0%), natural gas (37.2%), nuclear (6.7%) and coal (0.1%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal are the primary sources of renewable energy in California.
Over the past few years, California utilities have incurred significant costs to replace infrastructure destroyed from forest fires. The utilities have also closed inefficient, high cost coal-fueled power plants. These costs have contributed to California’s high electricity prices. In March 2019, the average cost of electricity in California was U.S. 19.3 ¢ per kWh, which is the 7th most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12.5 ¢ per kWh.
Concerns over global warming and climate change have resulted in California legislating the abandonment of fossil fuels for renewable energy. On September 10, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating that 50% of state’s electricity be generated from renewable energy by 2025, 60% by 2030 and zero-carbon emissions from electric power plants by 2045. California utilities are rapidly developing new renewable energy projects to meet the state’s latest legislation.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is preparing to submit a massive solar plus storage power purchase agreement (PPA) to the city’s Board of Power and Water Commission for approval. The proposed Eland Solar + Storage Center will have 400 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, plus 800 MWh energy storage capacity.
The Eland Solar + Storage PPA has set solar power costs at 1.997 ¢ per kWh and energy storage costs at 1.3 ¢ per kWh. These are one of the lowest prices for solar plus storage in the world. The solar plus storage facility would commence operation in April 2023, subject to final approval by the Los Angeles Board of Power and Water Commission.
California has the highest cost for electricity of any state West of the Mississippi River. California’s high costs are associated with cost overruns on major power projects, inefficient utilities and major forest fires. Solar and wind have the potential to slow and ultimate reduce the high cost of power in the Golden State.
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