Solar, and solar plus storage records *possibly/probably* set in California

Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) has announced two power purchase agreements (PPA) with an average price of 2.2¢/kWh. The individual project pricing, total solar modules onsite, and expected volumes of electricity delivered on an annual basis were blacked out in the draft PPAs available to the public (236 page pdf). But we were able to get the following information on the two contracts/projects:

  • sPower Solar + Storage Project: 20-year agreement for 125 MW of solar power and 80 MW/160 MWh of battery storage in southern California, developed by Salt Lake City-based sPower
  • Edwards Solar Project: 15-year agreement for 100 MW of solar power and virtual storage in Kern County, developed by San Diego-based Terra-Gen

The project was announced by EBCE CEO Nick Chaset on Twitter:

STOP THE PRESSES – @PoweredbyEBCE has formally concluded its first major renewable energy procurement and we are pleased to announce that we have contracted for over 500 MWs of California solar at the astoundingly low average price of $22/MWh.

While the exact pricing on either of the two projects was withheld, it is probable both of these projects have set pricing records for the United States – but we must also add caveats to solar plus storage projects now that we’re seeing a greater variety of large scale projects.

In the linked to Google spreadsheet the equations can be seen that developed the below image, which suggest that the blended rate of the two projects is still greater than the current record holder 8minute Solar Energy, and Jackpot Solar’s Idaho project. However, if we consider again that the two projects “average” 2.2¢/kWh ($22/MWh) – then we ought assume that the solar only project is priced higher than the solar+storage project. And, if we lower the price of the Edwards Solar project to 2.097¢/kWh, then accounting for the escalator and discount rates, we see that it would beat out 8minute’s record – and that the average between the two projects would allow for the sPower solar+storage project to also be lower priced than 8minute’s recently signed Eland project.

Again though, these are speculative values by this pv magazine USA author, as EBCE noted the individual project data was withheld, and it was blacked out in the above draft PPAs.

As well – and this one is important – when considering the “value” of the energy storage project as compared to others, the total amount of energy storage involve in the project is very important to how much energy storage would be included. The sPower project contains 80 MW / 160 MWh – much smaller than the 300 MW / 1,200 MWh volume included in the above linked to Eland project. So while, we *possibly/probably* would see a lower sticker price, it’s a different type of project that is being delivered. And this is something we will have to consider as we write our pretty headlines going out into the future.

EBCE also released a summary of all new long-term agreements signed in 2019:

The Edwards Solar project is expected to reach financial close in June of 2022, with construction to begin by August of the same year, and to reach commercial operation by the end of 2022. Meaning the company believes they can deploy 100 MWac / of solar power in six months. sPower projects that construction will start by the last day of 2021, with the commercial operation date to be by the last day of 2022, and “full capacity deliverability status” by March 31, 2023.

The Edwards facility will be located on Edwards Air Force Base, will connect through Southern California Edison power lines via the Windhub 230 kV p-node. Terra-Gen has engaged D.H. Blattner & Sons to build the project, using the teams of the Operating Engineers Local 12, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Southern California District Council of Laborers and its affiliated Laborers Local 220, IBEW Local 428, and Ironworkers Locals 416 and 433 on April 8, 2018. sPower noted in their contract that while they hadn’t yet signed the agreement for construction, it will use union labor.

 

Solar, and solar plus storage records *possibly/probably* set in California, by John Weaver, PV Magazine, September 30, 2019.

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