LOS ANGELES (CN) – In a step toward fulfilling the renewable energy goals of the city and county of Los Angeles, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday the city will abandon plans to spend billions of dollars to rebuild three existing coastal power plants.
Garcetti told reporters at Los Angeles Department of Water and Power headquarters Tuesday that phasing out the Scattergood, Haynes, and Harbor natural gas plants will help improve air quality, cut carbon emissions and reach the city’s goal of sourcing 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
The power plants – which together produce 38 percent of the city’s current natural gas energy – were slated to undergo a more than $3 billion revamp to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. Now they will be phased out by 2029.
“This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”
Mel Levine, the Department of Water and Power board president, agreed the city’s aging energy transmission system needs to be reconfigured away from fossil fuels.
“Climate change demands our vigilance and bold action,” Levine said Tuesday.
Garcetti’s decision comes months after California lawmakers approved Senate Bill 100, ambitious legislation that sets a statewide goal of sourcing 100 percent sustainable energy by 2045.
To limit global warming to a 1.5-degree Celsius – the threshold scientists believe the climate can withstand and Earth can recover from – carbon emissions must return to 2010 levels and then drop another 45 percent by 2030, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, have backed the Green New Deal launched by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. The plan would guarantee green jobs, health care, housing and a living wage while pushing for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the plan announced Tuesday, the LA Department of Water and Power will allocate funds to explore renewable energy alternatives, including by upgrading energy transmission and distribution systems, using microgrid technologies, and utilizing new battery technology.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also a United Nations special envoy for climate action, said in a statement that LA’s decision is a critical step in having cities shift away from fossil fuels.
“We need to accelerate the transition to clean energy, and LA’s commitment to helping to lead the way is an important sign of progress,” Bloomberg said.
Alexandra Nagy with the nonprofit Food and Water Watch also applauded LA’s move away from natural gas.
“Mayor Garcetti is showing the rest of the country what a Green New Deal can mean for our communities. We are hopeful that this is a first step to swiftly transition LA off fossil fuels and move the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030,” Nagy said in a statement. “Mayor Garcetti has listened to us and decided that Los Angeles can do better. It’s time to clean up our air, prioritize health communities and green jobs, and usher in a clean energy revolution.”