Los Angeles lawmakers agreed to study a transition for California's largest city to get to 100 percent renewable energy, but have yet to create a roadmap to get there. A new report prepared for Food & Water Watch by Synapse, an energy consulting firm, shows how L.A.'s municipal power utility can get off fossil fuels by investing in energy efficiency, rooftop solar energy and other decentralized sources. The rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy would save money, improve public health and protect the climate.
L.A. Can Lead on Clean Energy
Los Angeles, like other cities and states across the country, is grappling with the question of how to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. This is no small feat for a city with nearly 1.5 million electricity customers and an energy system that relies on fossil fuels. Fortunately, an analysis conducted by Synapse shows that the pathway to renewable energy can be readily achieved in Los Angeles by 2030.
The transition will require phasing out dirty energy sources, including all fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and replacing them with solar, wind and geothermal energy. Developing these clean energy sources must be paired with energy efficiency and demand response — allowing customers to adjust their use during peak periods — or energy-saving programs. This, along with supporting the development of distributed small-scale energy generation, can actually save money for Los Angeles ratepayers.
The pathway to 100 percent renewable energy can be achieved without false climate solutions and save money for ratepayers.
The pathway to 100 percent renewable energy can be achieved without relying on market-based schemes like cap-and-trade or carbon taxes, or other false climate solutions like polluting biofuels and dangerous nuclear energy. What we need now is a sustained commitment from the mayor and city council to transition the City of Los Angeles to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Saving Money for Ratepayers
Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy can start lowering ratepayers’ bills immediately. Investments in renewable energy would cost less for ratepayers than continuing the city’s dependence on fossil fuels. For example, while wind and solar sources are virtually free after an initial investment, L.A.’s aging gas plants require expensive upgrades and run on costly natural gas.
These savings are even greater when we consider the high social costs associated with burning fossil fuels — costs that ratepayers may never see on their energy bills, but pay for dearly, nonetheless. These include everything from public health costs due to air pollution from power plants and water pollution from fracking, to the high cost of responding to disasters like wildfires and floods, to subsidies for fossil fuels. By investing in renewable energy, we can avoid many of these devastating social costs.
Choosing Truly Clean Energy
Los Angeles can make the transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 powered entirely by wind, solar and geothermal energy sources. Policymakers feel pressure from the powerful oil and gas lobby to include false solutions like polluting biomass and ineffective carbon-pricing schemes in their renewable energy plans. This analysis shows that these options are not only unnecessary, they are also an impediment to achieving a real clean energy plan for Los Angeles.
If policymakers choose these false solutions, they will waste taxpayer money investing in energy sources like biogas, which emits greenhouse gases and air pollutants that are associated with serious health issues.
Next Steps for Clean Energy
Los Angeles needs to commit now to developing a plan to end fossil fuels and to making a quick transition to 100 percent renewable energy, and this report shows how to get there. Tell Mayor Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council to transition LA to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030: