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EGEB: LA’s ‘revolutionary’ record low solar price, US company to stop insuring new coal plants, more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Los Angeles readies a record low solar price (with battery) that could be a game changer.
  • The largest US commercial insurance company is leaving coal.
  • A Virginia offshore wind project starts construction.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners is expected to approve a two-phase 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) priced at 1.997¢/kWh for 400 MWac / 530 MWdc of solar electricity, and 1.3¢/kWh for electricity from a 400 MW / 800 MWh energy storage system.

As first reported by pv magazine, the project, the Eland Solar & Storage Center, would be the cheapest solar rate in the country, and one of the cheapest in the world. As LADWP manager for strategic initiatives, James Barner told Forbes,

“This is the lowest solar-photovoltaic price in the United States, and it is the largest and lowest-cost solar and high-capacity battery-storage project in the U.S. and we believe in the world today. So this is, I believe, truly revolutionary in the industry.”

8minute Solar Energy is developing the project, which will be built in two 200 MWac solar phases, and is expected to go online in 2023. The LADWP is also in “advanced negotiations” with seven other solar projects.

The record low solar price follows another recent development in Southern California in which General Electric announced it would close a natural gas-fired plant — which has quickly become uneconomical and outdated — and sell the site for the development of a battery storage project.

Another Coal Goodbye

As states leave coal behind and coal falls behind renewables in total capacity and recent electricity generation, there’s now more fateful writing on the wall for the flailing fossil fuel.

Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, has unveiled a new policy on coal. Which is to say, it’s moving away from it. From Chubb:

  • New Coal Plant Construction & Operation. Chubb will not underwrite risks related to the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants. Exceptions to this policy will be considered until 2022 (i) in regions that do not have practical near-term alternative energy sources, and (ii) taking into account the insured’s commitments to reduce coal dependence.
  • Coal Mining. Chubb will not underwrite new risks for companies that generate more than 30% of revenues from thermal coal mining. Chubb will phase out coverage of existing risks that exceed this threshold by 2022.
  • Utilities. Chubb will not underwrite new risks for companies that generate more than 30% of their energy production from coal. Chubb will phase out coverage of existing risks that exceed this threshold beginning in 2022, taking into account the viability of alternative energy sources in the impacted region.
In addition to these underwriting changes, Chubb announced that it “will not make new debt or equity investments in companies that generate more than 30% of revenues from thermal coal mining or that generate more than 30% of energy production from coal.”

Offshore in Virginia

Construction started Monday on Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, Norfolk’s ABC 13 reports. It’s a relatively small project — a 12 MW project with just two turbines built to power 3,000 homes — but it’s just the second offshore wind project under construction in the US, and the first in the region.

It’s also expected to be the start of something big, as Dominion Energy plans to invest up to $1.1 billion in offshore wind through 2023. The adjacent Virginia Wind Energy Area leased by the utility has the potential to support up to 2 GW of offshore wind.

Another plus with an initial project this small is the timeline. The utility expects the project will be complete and up and running by late 2020.

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