As Buzz readers know, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been studying how to replace outdated generators at three local power plants, and was leaning towards investing in new natural gas generators. But a few weeks ago, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti surprised everybody by heeding the advice of David Freeman (former head of the LADWP), Governor Brown, the State Legislature, and a coalition of environmental and business advocates, announcing that those plants would be replaced with renewable energy rather than natural gas. “This is the Green New Deal, not in concept, not in the future, but now,” Garcetti said, referring to a set of ideas developed over the last ten years, and recently (and most famously) popularized by US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Shortly thereafter, Garcetti released an update to his 2015 sustainability plan, now retitled “LA’s Green New Deal: Sustainability Plan 2019“.
Like the original New Deal back in the 1930s, this one involves jobs, water, and electricity. In it, the Mayor makes the case that jobs, clean air, clean water, and clean energy are not mutually exclusive. The report is…long, about 150 pages. It not only sets a few key goals, it also lists a dizzying array of smaller goals and ideas for actions to help implement the larger goals (some already underway). But like the national Green New Deal, the plan is essentially aspirational, and it remains to be seen what the City Council and LADWP will do towards meeting its targets.
First and foremost is the question of how exactly the DWP will use renewable energy to upgrade those three powerplants, and how much it will cost (or save) in the long run. Those plans are still being formulated as part of the DWP’s 100% Renewable Energy study, in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Lab.
To address some of those very questions, the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance will hold a panel discussion this Saturday, May 11, at 1 pm at the IGM Art Gallery, 2250 Alcazar St., 90033. Speakers will include Eric Montag (LADWP Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives and Resource Development), Adrienne Underwood (Sunrun), Jasmin Vargas (Food & Water Watch), and Aura Vasquez (recent LADWP Commissioner, now a candidate for City Council District 10). The event is free and open to all…but please RSVP at www.ncsa.la/clean_renewable_energy if you’d like to attend.
The Buzz will resume its coverage of this topic in the near future, but for now this reporter is packing his bags for the long trip to East LA to hear the discussion 🙂
One last note for today: the Mayor’s recent announcement is more moderate than it may appear, along the lines of “let old generators keep running, but when it’s time to replace them, choose zero-emissions equipment where practical.” Already-upgraded natural gas turbines at those power plants will continue to operate, potentially for decades, making this an evolutionary step rather than a revolutionary one.
[Dan Kegel is a member of the GWNC’s Sustainability Committee, and chairs the Advocacy Committee of the group putting on the forum.]