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Union Opposition Puts Brakes on 'Record-Cheap' Solar Installation

Under a proposed 25-year solar contact, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power would pay record-cheap prices for 400 megawatts of power. But the utility declined to approve the deal after a utility workers' union raised concerns.
September 1, 2019, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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"Under the 25-year contract with developer 8minute Solar Energy, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power would pay less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour — a number city officials and independent experts say would be the lowest price ever paid for solar power in the United States," Sammy Roth writes. In addition to 400 megawatts of solar capacity, the project would also include at least 200 megawatts of lithium-ion battery storage capacity so it can continue powering the grid after dark.

But LADWP's Board of Commissioners voted not to send the contract forward to the L.A. City Council after concerns were raised by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, a utility employees' union. The exact nature of the union's objection was hard to pin down. The union has opposed parts of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's Green New Deal initiative, including the retirement of three gas power plants that employed over 400 LADWP staff.

"LADWP staff struggled to explain to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday why Local 18 had objected to the Eland project," Roth writes. According to a spokesperson for the union, LADWP "has not complied with its contractual obligations for this deal." LADWP will reconsider the contract again at a September 10 board meeting.

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Published on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 in The Los Angeles Times
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