Los Angeles Hits Its Clean Energy Goal

Los Angeles, it would seem, is taking an aggressive stance on cleaning up its smoggy reputation. First, we received word that L.A. Metro had retired its last diesel bus, in favor of a cleaner-burning compressed natural gas fleet. Now, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced a major green milestone for the City of Angels: in 2010, L.A. drew nearly 20% of its electricity from renewable sources.

This, the Mayor notes, is no small feat, as the city has managed to quadruple its renewable energy portfolio in just six years, in pursuit of the 20% by 2010 goal set by Villaraigosa when he became mayor. He notes that this announcement illustrates that L.A. Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is a national leader in cost-effective, environmentally-responsible energy. “We went from worst to first,” he said, in a statement, “while also keeping our rates lower than other major utilities.”

LA Clean Energy

image via City of Los Angeles

The 20% by 2010 goal has been achieved through a combination of major projects and power agreements, including the LADWP’s Pine Tree Wind Power Plant, which is currently the nation’s largest wind farm owned by a municipal utility and located in the Tehachapi Mountains. Wind power comprised nearly 50% of all LADWP’s renewable energy in 2010, with small hydro-electric contributing 30%, geothermal/biofuels 22%, and solar 1%.

It is said that this amount of renewable power provided to customers — 4,500 gigawatt-hours (GWh) — is equivalent to annually removing 750,000 homes from the power grid, preventing 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, or removing nearly to 490,000 cars from the road. In addition to achieving nearly 20% renewable energy in 2010, LADWP said it has reduced its carbon emissions to 22% below 1990 levels through “a combination of expanding renewable energy; replacing old generators with efficient and ultra-clean power plants; and promoting energy efficiency among its customers.”

In going forward, LADWP said it is in the process of divesting of the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona by 2014, which will reduce carbon emissions by an additional 26%. It will also continue to develop new wind and solar projects close to existing transmission lines and other infrastructure. This includes local in-basin solar and a feed-in tariff program which would allow private parties to sell power to LADWP for distribution on the grid.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.