Project Spotlight: Eland Solar & Storage Center
Introducing: Project Spotlights
We’re launching a new series: project spotlights!
At Greenwork, we’re all about celebrating the hands-on work of rebuilding our country’s infrastructure. We’re starting this series to showcase some of the awesome infrastructure projects that are under construction or recently finished.
We also want to provide a place to discuss these projects, so please use the comments section to share your thoughts!
Project #1: The Eland Solar & Storage Center
- Type: Utility-Scale Solar
- Location: Kern County, CA
- Energy Generation: 400 MWac, Solar
- Energy Storage: 300 MWac / 1,200 MWh, battery energy storage
- Developer: 8Minute Energy
- Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC): Swinerton Renewable Energy (SOLV)
- Owner: Capital Dynamics
- Offtaker: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)
- Affiliated Union: IBEW Local 428
- Estimated Jobs Created: 700 Construction Jobs, 40 operations and maintenance jobs after completion
The Eland Solar & Storage Center is a massive solar farm under construction near Bakersfield, CA which will provide power to the City of Los Angeles. The project will provide LA’s municipal utility (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, aka “LADWP”), with as much as 7% of its total electricity. The developer and the utility agreed to final terms for the project in September 2019 and the farm is slated to come online in 2023.
The project will feature two separate 200 MW solar power plants, which will be completed and electrified in phases. The energy storage will be provided by large banks of batteries, which permit snooping suggests will be made up of 3-MWh Tesla Megapacks.
While the project’s power will serve Los Angeles, the site itself is actually 70 miles outside of LA in Kern County, CA near Bakersfield.
The People Building Eland
The project is being built by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the (electrical) union that represents 775,000 people across the US and Canada. The project team is made up of Journeymen electricians and apprentices from the IBEW Local 428, supported by other IBEW Locals traveling from other counties.
The IBEW is offering jobs on the project for construction workers who are not (yet) members of the union as “Panel Installers” and “Unindentured Apprentices.”
The panel installer role is for general, non-electrical construction. The unindentured apprentice role is designed to give workers exposure to the union and build their electrical experience to support an application to join. It is paid at the same rate as beginning apprentices and receives full medical and dental benefits once an apprentice has worked 300 hours.
The Cheapest Solar Electricity Yet
At the time of signing, the project represented the cheapest solar PPA in US History at 2¢/kWh. It also represented the cheapest power from a solar + storage project, as 8Minute priced the storage at a flat 1.3¢/kWh rate, bringing the overall cost to the City to 3.3¢/kWh.
Getting the Project to Yes
Eland went through a contentious process to get approval by the LADWP Board of Commissioners. The project was not approved on its first vote in August 2019, due toconcerns that it represented part of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plans to close gas-fired power plants around LA (and thus lay off workers). In its first attempt, 3 of the 5 commissioners did not vote yes (no, abstain, absent).
The Commissioners approved the project two weeks later, after 8Minute Energy committed to work with union labor. Passage was likely helped by the arrival at the hearing of 45 LA residents, including members of the Sunrise Movement, in support of the project.
We Want your Thoughts!
At Greenwork, we think Eland is pretty awesome! It’s an affordable, clean source of power and it can be dispatched (asked to provide power) when the utilitiy needs it. Well-paid, well-trained tradespeople are building the project, and it’s providing opportunities for more people to get into the electrical trade. Eland is huge, which is impressive and helpful in LA hitting its 2035 100% renewable energy goal.
Drop a note in the comments to let us know what you think! And if you’ve built something cool and want us to feature it, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.