Los Angeles Inks Wind-Power Deal

Deal is latest in effort to boost renewable energy supply, but it comes at a cost.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles utility commissioners voted for a 16-year contract worth between $236 million and $280 million to buy electricity generated by windmills standing on the plains of southwest Wyoming.

The deal requires approval by the city council, which is expected in the next few weeks to endorse the pact approved Tuesday by the city Department of Water and Power board.

Scottish Power subsidiary PPM Energy, which operates several wind farms throughout the West, would generate the electricity with turbines at its Pleasant Valley Wind Energy Center.

The 82 megawatts it produces would amount to less than 1 percent of Los Angeles' annual energy needs. But DWP officials said it is a step toward their goal of having at least 20 percent of the city's power supply come from renewable sources by 2010.

The wind power would cost about twice as much as the energy coming from a coal-burning plant in southern Utah that currently provides the city with almost half of its electricity, officials said.

''One of the key things to keep in mind is we have to balance everything with reliability and economics,'' said Kim Hughes, a DWP spokeswoman.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement that the city's ultimate goal is to own renewable generation, and the new agreement is a ''jump start'' to that end.

The DWP supplies water and power to 3.9 million city residents.

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