Sun Sets on Solar Farm

By Lorel Kane
|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 2:54 PM PDT
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The DWP solar farm near the Salton Sea, in the town of Niland, was set to become L.A's first foray into solar power generation.

Instead, the farm -- at least at the Salton Sea site -- has been put out the pasture.

The DWP's interim general manager, S. David Freeman, said Tuesday he was troubled by the costs of the 55-megawatt project, which had been slated to go up on land purchased by the utility in 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported. But Freeman said he determined that transmitting electricity from Imperial County to Los Angeles would be too expensive since the DWP does not own power lines directly linking the two areas, The Times reported.

The DWP will continue to pursue plans to develop a massive solar facility on Owens Lake near Lone Pine in Central California.

Freeman made his comments Tuesday moments after Councilwoman Jan Perry, who heads the council's Energy and the Environment Committee, said she planned to send the solar project back to the DWP for more work.

The exchanges between Freeman and the committee showed the growing anxiety by council members over Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's ambitious renewable energy plans -- and the likelihood that those plans will lead to higher electricity bills, according to The Times.

Perry and other members told DWP officials to provide detailed estimates on how the city's renewable energy proposals would affect ratepayers.

Freeman agreed that there would be "serious upward pressure on rates" as the city weans itself off coal and natural gas, both of which are much less expensive than renewable power sources, The Times reported.

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