The US city of Los Angeles is to upgrade its power transmission system in a bid to generate and deliver more power from renewable sources.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has awarded ABB an $87 million contract to expand and strengthen the transmission network in the Los Angeles area. The project will be complete by 2010 and is part of the utility’s plans to source 20 per cent of electricity demand from renewable energy by the end of the decade.

The upgrade will increase the capacity of the 22-year old Intermountain Power Project Southern Transmission System by 25 per cent to 2400 MW. Around 75 per cent of the system’s existing capacity will be available throughout the refurbishment, according to ABB.

ABB will upgrade the Intermountain high voltage direct current (HVDC) system with a state-of-the-art control and protection system, efficient cooling systems for the valves and additional AC filters to strengthen the quality of the power supply.

Price fixing allegations

The Zurich-based firm confirmed in December that it and several other engineering companies are being investigated by the European Commission for allegedly running a cartel in Europe’s multi-billion euro power transformer market.

ABB, Siemens, Toshiba and Areva have all been sent co-called “statements of objections” by the European Commission charging them with illegally fixing the price of power transformer equipment. The move follows raids on companies’ offices by antitrust officials earlier in 2008.

The allegations centre on price arrangements made between 1999 and 2003 in several European countries. The companies face substantial fines if they are found to be guilty.

In a statement, ABB said that it is “committed to fair and open competition … ABB companies and employees are not permitted to engage in any anti-competitive practices or other illegal or unethical behaviour.”

A statement of objections is not a final decision, but a preliminary assessment by the European Commission of the alleged anti-competitive practices.