SPEAKING UP TO POWER-Every two years Anglenos have the unique opportunity to share their views on the future of LA’s energy policy during public comment on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). It may sound like the kind of dry process that would attract only the wonkiest of policy wonks, but in fact it is a crucial opportunity to pressure our leaders to chart a bold course towards the health and wellbeing of LA’s communities.
LADWP says that the IRP focuses exclusively on three “Rs”: Rates, Reliability and Renewables. Given the health and climate change consequences of a 20-year energy plan, it is unacceptable that a public-owned utility does not focus on the human and environmental cost to our communities and future generations. Somehow LADWP understands we need renewables as a matter of costs, but it fails to acknowledge the bigger issue at hand, that they are key to solving our dependence on fossil fuels and the damage they inflict in our communities and our environment.
After the SoCal Gas blowout near Porter Ranch disrupted thousands of families, Food & Water Watch and our partners pressured City Hall and LADWP to study transitioning Los Angeles to100 percent renewable energy to end the City’s dependence on dirty, fracked gas. We were initially encouraged to learn that LADWP’s IRP intended to study a 100 percent fossil-free scenario. However, the IRP seems like it will only contemplate reaching 65 percent renewable energy by 2035, at best. Worse yet, LADWP is planning to invest heavily in gas-powered plants.
As Los Angeles moves off of coal by 2025, there are plans to reinvest in a whole new era of LADWP gas power plants. The gas power plants are located throughout Los Angeles County in Sun Valley, Wilmington, El Segundo, and Long Beach and disproportionately impact low income, communities of color. We are at a crossroads. DWP has a choice to reinvest in dirty, polluting gas power plants or move to clean, renewable energy.
This is an opportunity to inject equity and justice in our energy plans and make smarter, more just choices. The City must clean up communities burdened with pollution from gas plants and infrastructure by decommissioning these facilities and transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy.
Thanks to efforts by Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles has approved a motion to study 100 percent renewable energy for Los Angeles. But the IRP process is where the rubber meets the road. LADWP is making decisions this year about LA’s energy future that falls short of this 100 percent renewable goal.
Affordable clean energy technology is here and has been for a while. LADWP must transition the city to 100 percent renewables by 2030. No excuses. We don’t need to just reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to end it. Fortunately the technology to make the transition will also generate good, green jobs.
Even without the pressing environmental and public health needs the case for renewables can be made in terms of hard costs alone. For example, an air-cooled gas generator can cost up to 10 times as much as solar power. Once human health and climate change are factored in, there is absolutely no reason to invest in old, dirty technology.
It’s time for LADWP to break up with all fossil fuels and embrace renewables to generate power, to become an advocate for electric transportation, for both private cars and public transit. Some electric vehicles even have the technology to power homes in case of outages. More importantly millions of residents who live near freeways will no longer be exposed to tailpipe emissions.
Additionally, as the devastating drought continues, it is undisputable that renewables have a much lower water footprint than fossil fuels. From extraction to transportation and refinement, fossil fuels cannot compete with renewables when it comes to water savings.
It’s time for Mayor Eric Garcetti, the City Council and LADWP to take leadership. They can choose to do right by Angelenos or they can choose to keep sacrifice zones where people and the environment will pay a hefty price. Our communities have a huge opportunity to remind them of these obligations during the IRP, October 26 through November 14, whether by showing up at a LADWP meeting, submitting written comment or visiting City Hall. Help lead Los Angeles into a clean energy future.
NEED TO KNOW--IRP Hearings
First Hearing: October 26, 6-8pm; DWP Headquarters, 111 N. Hope Street, Los Angeles 90012
Second Hearing: November 2, 6-8p; Wilmington Senior Citizen Center, 1371 Eubank Avenue, Wilmington, CA 90744
Third Hearing: November 3, 6-8p; Pacoima Neighborhood City Hall Cultural Room, 13520 Van Nuys Blvd, Pacoima 91331
(Andrea Leon-Grossman is an organizer with Food & Water Watch focusing on a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy for Los Angeles.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.