Los Angeles Eyeing a Switch to 100% Renewable Power

Los Angeles Eyeing a Switch to 100% Renewable Power

by -


Los Angeles could be the next California city to set a plan for switching to 100 percent renewable power.

The City Council will vote today on a measure that would have the city’s utility — the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) — study how to get to 100 percent clean energy.

”Climate change is the most significant issue facing the global environment today,” the motion from Councilman Paul Krekorian said. “The city has an opportunity to re-create its utility in a way that recognizes the potential for a fossil-free future, demonstrates global leadership in its commitment to clean energy, and protects ratepayers from the increasing costs of carbon-based fuels.”

LADWP is the biggest municipal utility in the country. It delivers electricity and water to 4 million customers. If the measure is approved, the utility will work with local universities, the U.S. Department of Energy, environmental groups, consumer advocates and others to look at how the utility could switch entirely to clean power.

MORECalifornia Breaks Solar Record, Generates Enough Electricity for 6 Million Homes

David Graham-Caso, environmental policy adviser for Councilman Mike Bonin, co-sponsor of the motion, said he would be “very surprised” if the measure doesn’t pass with a unanimous vote.

Bonin, who represents the area west of Interstate 405, or the “San Diego Freeway,” said that “much of the gorgeous coastline of the district I represent will literally be underwater within decades if we do not take dramatic action to stop using harmful and climate-polluting fossil fuels.”

“Los Angeles can lead the way and show cities around the country — and around the world — that clean energy is here and ready to power thriving economies,” he added.

RELATEDCalifornia Bans Use of Harmful Devices Against Captive Elephants

The goal is getting off fossil fuels, but the city wants to do it effectively, looking at where Los Angeles could place renewable projects, how much DWP would have to count on contracting for green energy generated outside the city, how much it will cost and how long it will take, said Ian Thompson, spokesman for Krekorian.

It comes as other California cities are making similar moves. San Diego earlier this year approved a plan to move to 100 percent renewable power. It has approved multiple steps that still need to be enacted as ordinances (ClimateWire, April 7). Del Mar, in north San Diego County, also pledged to go all-green, though its plan is more aspirational, with no approved actions to achieve it (ClimateWire, Aug. 8).

Lancaster, in north Los Angeles County, and San Francisco also both aim for full green power.

MORECosta Rica Has Been Powered Only By Renewable Energy For 122 Days

“It’s a huge trend,” said Evan Gillespie, the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign director. “It will be interesting to see how the municipal-level trend percolates up to the state level.”

California’s renewable power goal right now is 50 percent by 2030.

What makes Los Angeles different is that it has its own utility. The other cities aiming for 100 percent green power are using or looking at a mechanism known as community choice aggregation, or CCA. They form a collective to buy power on behalf of residents and businesses and in that way can acquire more clean energy. The power is still delivered by the large utility in each place. Under state law, residents are automatic members of the CCA but can later opt out and go back to the incumbent utility.

That could make it more challenging for LADWP but also give it more flexibility, said Ethan Elkind, associate director of the Climate Change and Business Program at both the University of California, Berkeley’s and UCLA’s law schools.

When you are a municipal utility, you “have a whole range of infrastructure at your disposal,” Elkind said, noting that LADWP can build any needed transmission and distribution lines to make more green energy happen.

CHECK OUTPortugal Runs for Four Days Straight on Renewable Energy Alone

“They’d have a little bit more control over that,” Elkind said. “That means they also have to deal with the costs. They have to think about things like reliability. They’re going to have to think about how handle intermittent renewable energy.”

But a municipal utility also has control over where to plan energy storage and energy efficiency, he said.

“It’s technologically feasible,” Elkind said. “The question is, how much is it going to cost and what are the cheapest ways to get it done, and does it hurt any of the other values we have,” such as power reliability.

The LA City Council’s motion does not include any time frame for when the city would switch to 100 percent green energy.

RELATEDManatee Population Has Rebounded 500 Percent, No Longer Endangered

“We will certainly push the utility and the city to move urgently,” Gillespie said. “There’s some unknowns about how quickly we can do this and what the trade-offs are” in terms of costs to ratepayers and other issues.

“The technology exists today,” Gillespie added. “It’s a question of the time frame by which the city wants to do it.”

LADWP already has been moving away from fossil fuels. It has contracts with coal-fired plants located out of state that end in 2025. However, even after those contracts finish, the utility will still produce more than 7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million cars on the road each year, the motion said.

“The remaining energy portfolio of the LADWP will be extremely reliant on natural gas, another source of greenhouse gases, and that portfolio will be susceptible to price and supply constraints of the gas market,” it said.

LOOKWorld’s Most Eco-Friendly Country Hails Newborn Prince in a Perfect Way

In fact, the disaster at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County is expected to be another motivator in passing the motion, Thompson said.

A four-month leak at that facility forced the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents. The Aliso Canyon facility emitted almost 100,000 tons of methane from October through February. The state’s Air Resources Board estimated that the leak added approximately 20 percent to statewide methane emissions during that period (ClimateWire, March 21).

LADWP also has contracts for nuclear power in Arizona that last through 2045, Gillespie said.

Reprinted with permission from E&E Publishing

Spread The Positivity: Click To SharePhoto by ChrisGoldNYC, CC