California Community Choice power provider continues prolific run of dispatchable solar procurements

Developer 8minute Solar Energy's 208MW Holstein solar project in Texas. Clean Power Alliance has contracted a PPA with the developer for an even bigger project in California, Rexford 1 Solar & Storage Centre which includes 540MWh of battery capacity. Image: 8minute Solar Energy via Twitter.

Another contract has been signed for energy from a large-scale solar-plus-storage plant by one of California’s Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) groups.

Clean Power Alliance (CPA) is one of the CCAs that sits within the service area of the main investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in California, but allows its three million customers in Los Angeles and Ventura County to choose the sources where their power comes from.

The group’s customer-members can choose from three tariffs ranging from a 36% renewable mix, 50% renewable or 100% renewable. Much of that renewable power comes from wind. 

Yesterday, CPA said it has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with developer sPower for sPower’s Estrella solar-plus-storage project in the Antelope Valley area of Los Angeles, effectively giving the 56MW solar and 28MW / 112MWh battery energy storage project the green light to go ahead.

The project will begin commercial operation in December 2022 and serve around 1.4% of CPA’s electrical load, the CCA group said. It will be the first renewable energy project to be built within Clean Power Alliance (CPA) service territory.

The new PPA secures output from a 4-hour duration dispatchable solar-plus-battery plant, in common with numerous deals scored by CCAs in recent months, including the biggest such deal to date, brokered between Clean Power Alliance and developer 8minute Solar Energy in September. That deal was for power from Rexford 1 Solar & Storage Centre, in Tulare County, pairing 400MWdc (300MWac) of solar PV capacity with 180MW / 540MWh of battery energy storage. In August CPA also contracted to buy power from a 100MW solar and 50MW battery storage plant recently acquired by Goldman Sachs Renewable Power and CPA is currently running a Clean Energy Request for Offers.

The community electricity provider said that the sPower Estrella project will create around 200 construction jobs. Meanwhile, with its Clean Energy Request for Offers, CPA is looking to sign long-term PPAs for clean energy and diversify its clean energy mix. The group said it sees the addition of long-duration energy storage as another goal as well as being able to secure energy at specific times of day when it is most needed.

In July, a group of CCAs including Clean Power Alliance issued a Request for Information on long-duration energy storage technologies that could be connected to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) grid.

This later resulted in the collected CCAs issuing a Request for Offers for up to 500MW of long-duration project proposals. Clean Power Alliance had however been removed from the group, which dropped from 11 participating CCAs to eight.

According to Girish Balachandran, CEO of one of the CCAs, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, the reason why some of the CCAs did not participate in the later Request for Offers is that some are expected to issue their own individual RFOs for long-duration storage, while there may in the future be the formation of a ‘Super Joint Powers Agency’ of community choice aggregators which would “allow for ongoing and future collaboration among CCAs,” Balachandran said.

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