Los Angeles should be investing in genuine renewable energy. Instead, the city’s electric utility is doubling down on fossil fuels by pouring billions of dollars into natural gas plants that neighborhoods — many of which are lower-income, Latino and African-American communities. It is time for the city to put its money behind real renewable energy instead of perpetuating the demand for more dirty natural gas infrastructure like the disastrous Aliso Canyon facility and pipelines as well as the nationwide push for more fracking.
Over the coming years, the Los Angeles electric utility (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, or LADWP) intends to rebuild aging units at three natural gas power plants. Certain units at the Harbor, Haynes and Scattergood generating stations are being completely replaced. These “peaker units” are designed to power up quickly to supplement electricity generation at times of large demand spikes. It is not clear that these new units are needed.
LADWP is rebuilding these power plants because the current units rely on ocean-water cooling systems that harm aquatic life and damage aquatic habitat.
These plant upgrades have been in the works since about 2010, but they are not expected to be com- pleted until 2029. Some of the rebuilding has already occurred; the projects at four units have just begun; and six units are not scheduled for rebuilding to begin until after 2020. LADWP has stated that it wants to pursue “system upgrades to move toward a 100 percent clean energy future.” The first step to reducing fossil fuel dependence — and achieving compliance on ocean-water cooling — should be to shut down the four units at Haynes and Scattergood, not to rebuild them.