Lake Elsinore to join Temecula in Joint Power Agreement for electricity to save money

Lake Elsinore City Council approved a joint power agreement with the city of Temecula that will bring in 1.5 megawatts of solar power to the city’s parks, streetlights and other facilities, saving the city millions of dollars in electric bills in the next 20 years.

Currently, Lake Elsinore city-owned parks and facilities, excluding Diamond Stadium, are using 2.31 megawatts of power supplied by Southern California Edison at a cost of approximately 13.96 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to a study from the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve SOLAR Initiative.

By connecting with the large 3.7-megawatt solar array being built by BioStar Renewables for SMER in the hills of Temecula, the city of Lake Elsinore will buy a maximum of 1.43 megawatts of power at a rate of 12.53 cents per kilowatt-hour. The 1.43 cents per kilowatt-hour cost differential will save the city over $2.2 million in the next 20 years, compared to SCE energy costs that have risen approximately 2 percent per year. The purchase would supply the city with about 62 percent of the energy it previously bought from Edison.

Michael Bracken, the city’s economic development consultant brought up the main selling point during the council meeting in favor of the city joining with Temecula to form the Southwest Riverside County Energy Authority. It is that the agreement will not impose any cost or expenses on the city or the SRCEA, except with respect to the purchase of the generated electricity.

Bracken emphasized that the city will not be paying any of the costs related to the SMER solar array in Temecula including construction, maintenance and operations. The city’s only cost will be paying for the electricity generated by the solar panels.

In his report, he better explained that the JPA agreement will “not impose any cost or expenses on the city or the SRCEA, except with respect to the purchase of the generated electricity. The city will realize a savings in electrical energy costs by purchasing electricity generated by the solar generating facility. All costs related to the solar generating facility and the interconnection facilities to so that the generated electricity is credited toward the electricity used at various city facilities will be paid by SMER Research.”

SMER Research is a 20-year solar project built on land it is leasing from San Diego State University. Bracken said if for some reason the facility were to shut down in an emergency or disaster, the city would still get power from the statewide power grid. The shutdown would not cost the city anything.

The council approved joining with Temecula in the SRCEA. Lake Elsinore will have two councilmembers on the SRCEA board when it is officially formed.

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