Heating Up: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tours San Pedro’s Westmont Solar Energy Project, with more than 50,000 panels across 50 acres of rooftop space.

Heating Up: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tours San Pedro’s Westmont Solar Energy Project, with more than 50,000 panels across 50 acres of rooftop space. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Downtown solar developer PermaCity Inc. has completed the world’s most powerful solar rooftop generating project in San Pedro.

The Westmont Solar Energy Project, near the end of the 110 freeway, includes more than 50,000 solar panels covering 50 acres of roof space, generating up to 16.4 megawatts, enough electricity to power 5,000 single-family homes. It ranks second in size only to the solar project at Apple Inc.’s headquarters in Cupertino, but its electricity output makes it the world’s most powerful, PermaCity said.

PermaCity was the master developer of the project, together with building owner BlackRock Inc., based in New York, and financial partners True Green Capital of Westport, Conn., and Parsippany, N.J.-based roofing manufacturer GAF. PermaCity, which employs about a dozen full-time workers and had revenue of $30 million to $40 million last year, has had experience with large-scale solar rooftop projects, including one completed two years ago atop clothing manufacturer Forever 21’s Lincoln Heights headquarters.

The Westmont project dwarfs all of the others.

“This really boosts our qualifications to perform the very largest jobs,” PermaCity Chief Executive Jonathan Port said last week after the announcement of the project’s completion.

The project is part of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s “feed-in tariff” program, in which warehouse and other large-footprint building owners can install solar panels on the rooftop and sell the electricity generated to the agency’s power grid. The Westmont project will produce an estimated 565 million kilowatt-hours of electricity during its 20-year agreement with the DWP.

“The landowner rents out the roof and the city buys the renewable power,” Port said. “It’s a win for everybody.”

The project’s generating capacity of 16.4 megawatts also moves the city closer to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s stated goal of 400 megawatts of solar-generated power by the end of this year.

“We are putting sustainability at the center of everything we do in Los Angeles – and that means investing boldly to expand the use of local solar and renewable energy,” Garcetti said in a statement. “While Washington buries its head in the sand, we are carrying the fight against climate change forward in our city, and the Westmont Solar Energy Project is strong evidence of our commitment to a sustainable future.”

The Westmont project’s location within the L.A. basin – unlike many other large-scale solar projects – means the power can go directly on the grid without passing through narrow transmission corridors that are often filled to capacity, PermaCity’s Port said.

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