The NCSA calls for LADWP to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030, to refrain from any new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, and to ensure that all residents of Los Angeles reap the benefits of the transition to renewable energy.
UPDATE DECEMBER 24 2019—
Believe it or not, Los Angeles has been working on switching to clean electricity for a long time. Here’s a year-end look at how far Los Angeles has come, how far we still have to go, and an exciting new development on switching to clean energy more broadly…and how you can help.
In 2013, at the urging of and with the approval of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the City announced it would shut down its coal-fired power plants and replace them with cleaner natural gas power plants. Yay!
But the feeling of relief was short-lived, as the seriousness of climate change became clearer and clearer, and the price of even cleaner alternatives plummeted.
By 2016, it became clear to NCSA, many environmental groups, and even city councilmembers that it was time to look seriously at switching entirely to renewable electricity. So the City Council passed a motion to direct the LADWP to figure out how to get to 100% renewable electricity and to form an advisory group of community organizations to provide input and feedback on the process. The NCSA is represented on that committee, and has been watching developments closely.
Since then, renewable energy prices have continued to plummet, climate emergency awareness has skyrocketed, and the city cancelled three new fossil-fuel power plants. Yay! But to everyone's dismay, it turns out contracts negotiated and signed between 2013 and 2017 still seem to bind the City to replace its Utah coal plant with a natural gas plant, like it or not.
In July, Sammy Roth of the Los Angeles Times caught everyone’s attention when he quoted Mayor Garcetti saying he was open to a cleaner alternative for the Utah coal plant. Tom Pike of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council Environmental Affairs Committee seized the opportunity and organized a coalition to demand the Utah coal plant be replaced with 100% renewable energy. And separately, with a little encouragement from Food and Water Watch and the NCSA, over the course of 2019 dozens of neighborhood councils filed community impact statements supporting the City Council’s call to study how to get to 100% clean, renewable energy—and how to do it by 2030.
The LADWP appears to have been listening. It unveiled a draft proposal for three big changes to the plan for replacing the coal plant:
- add a big solar farm, larger than the recently approved Eland Solar project
- use it to produce enough renewable hydrogen to cut the plant's use of natural gas by 30%
- upgrade the plant to run purely on renewable hydrogen by 2045
And they're also considering adding wind power. So they're reducing carbon emissions significantly. Yay!
But what they're proposing (at least until 2045) is a little like a plug-in hybrid car: it's clean up to a point, but when the going gets tough, it still uses fossil fuel. Sometimes it feels like we just can't quit the habit.
So that's where we are right now. The LADWP is trying to reduce its climate pollution without raising costs too much or depending too much on risky new technology. Nobody's particularly happy with the situation. The NCSA Advocacy Committee wants to acknowledge and support the City's efforts to reduce its carbon emissions, yet still push them to go further and faster. One bright spot is that, according to the LADWP, there are enough proposed solar and wind projects in Utah to replace the coal plant’s power when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, several times over. The very least we can do, while supporting the City's efforts, is to implore them to bring those projects online by 2030, sooner than they are currently planning. And beyond the question of what to do about the coal plant, over the next year or so, the City will start to make concrete plans based on the emerging results of its systemwide 100% clean electricity study. Some of the investments needed may be more expensive than others, and we may have some hard choices to make. The NCSA will work to keep you informed as we learn more.
MEANWHILE, there is progress on another front: reducing pollution from home combustion. Thanks to progress in cleaner alternatives, new buildings without natural gas are now cheaper to build and to live in…and are a crucial part of the city’s fight against smog and climate change. As you can see from the Building Decarbonization Coalition’s scorecard, 22 cities in California have passed regulations to encourage decarbonization of new buildings, and Los Angeles is considering following suit. Lower costs and lower pollution seem like a no-brainer, and could even help make new homes a little more affordable. The NCSA’s advocacy committee is looking at how our members can support the City’s efforts, and this will be on the agenda at the upcoming NCSA Green New Deal forum on January 11. See you there!
Thank you for your engagement and your support as Los Angeles slowly emerges from the shadow of the fossil-fuel industry—and please stay tuned.
—Dan Kegel, NCSA Advocacy Committee Chair
UPDATE DECEMBER 2019—
Check out this LA Times report on our efforts regarding Utah's Intermountain Power Plant!
UPDATE OCTOBER 2019—PLEASE HELP THE ADVOCACY COMMITTEE PREVENT THE BUILDING OF A NEW GAS PLANT ON THE SITE OF THE INTERMOUNTAIN POWER PLANT!
- Please invite your NC to sign onto this letter.
- You can submit a CIS to the LADWP!!! And you can use also submit one to this (old) council file.
UPDATE APRIL 2019—
The NCSA Advocacy Committee is asking all neighborhood councils to submit a community impact statement to Council File 16-0243 requesting that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) study how to get to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. While the DWP is studying a pathway to 100% renewable energy, they are not studying a 100%-by-2030 scenario, and are including sources of energy that are not considered “clean.”
Additional resources are here:
- Food & Water Watch CIS statement
- Council File 16-0243 original motion
- Council File 16-0243 amended motion
INFORMATION ABOUT THE NCSA'S 2016 POSITION—
- Renewable energy letter
- Suggested text for motion (updated November 4, 2016 to include CIS language)
- Why Renewable Energy (updated October 22, 2016)
- Background from Food & Water Watch
- LADWP 2015 Integrated Resource Plan
- Vision for 100% Clean Energy: A Path Forward—Board of Water and Power Commissioners, LADWP
- Sierra Club motion (passed unanimously by City Council September 16, 2016)
- LADWP Integrated Resource Planning workshops flier
- CityWatch article—The Future is Here: A 100% Clean-Powered Los Angeles!
- Neighborhood councils that voted in support by the NCSA deadline of November 17, 2016
- Evan Gillespie of the Sierra Club
- Loraine Lundquist of Cal State Northridge
- Tony Wilkinson of the DWP MOU Oversight Committee
You can download it and listen to it from this link: drive.google.com/file/d/0B3EDpHNxsF4kLVY1ZE5JcFV5aFU/view
Please contact Dan Kegel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa Hart at 323.660.2780 with any questions or concerns.