Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The City Council voted Sept. 1 to have the Department of Water and Power — the largest municipal utility in the country — transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035, as well as develop a long-term hiring plan for nearly 10,000 “green” jobs.
The 2035 deadline is a decade earlier than the city’s previous goal.
The motion, which passed 12-0, also directs the DWP to report every six months on the transition to renewable energy to the City Council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee.
“When this study started three-and-a-half years ago … the idea was to be where we want to be by 2045,” DWP General Manager Martin Adams said. “So we have now shaved a decade off that timetable and we know we have a roadmap that will get us to 100% clean energy by 2035.
“What we are doing is setting the stage for the country and ultimately for the world,” Adams added. “I promise you that we are going to take this very seriously and make this happen.”
Cynthia McClain Hill, president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, said the LA100 study was unprecedented in scale and scope because of the complications of the city’s power grid.
“The study showed us several viable pathways for achieving 100% renewable and carbon-free energy by 2035 at the earliest,” McClain-Hill added. “Now, with support of our mayor, our City Council, and many community members and stakeholders across the city, we’re ready to take the next steps toward a 100% clean energy future.”
The transition is expected to create 9,500 jobs and include an investment of between $57 billion and $87 billion, but Adams and Councilman Paul Krekorian noted that much of the investment would overlap with already needed infrastructure replacement.
“It wouldn’t make sense to invest billions of dollars into the technologies of the 20th century instead of building for the economy of the 21st century,” Krekorian said during a news conference to mark the motion’s passage.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who chairs the council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee and introduced the motion with Krekorian, said the transition to 100% renewable energy in Los Angeles is “probably the top issue of the day.”
“A couple of weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change … published a ‘Code Red For Humanity’ report, stating that it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed our Earth at an unprecedented rate and that our weather extremes will only become more severe,” O’Farrell said. “LA100 is not a utopian gesture. It is a work plan for a world in trouble.”
In March, the city released the LA100 Study, which found that the DWP can reach the city’s goal by 2045 or sooner if it rapidly deploys wind and solar power, electrical storage and other technologies.
The study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in partnership with the DWP and USC, was touted as one of the largest studies of its kind conducted by the federal government.
“I will tell you that when you talk to anybody in the Department of Energy, they will tell you the only thing they’re talking about in [Washington] D.C. is the city of Los Angeles and the LA100 Study. This is a huge win for the city,” Adams told council members Sept. 1.
During a news conference after the motion passed, Krekorian said the turning point in the city’s initiative to get to 100% renewable energy was when the National Renewable Energy Laboratory got involved. “Because with the supercomputers that they had available to them, the millions of data points that they put into modeling with many, many scenarios, the result of their study was a tool that we as policymakers could use, and policymakers frankly around the world can use to figure out what are the different ways that we can achieve this goal,” Krekorian said.
The LA100 study found that the city can dramatically reduce its greenhouse gases, from 76% to 99% less than 2020 levels, by 2030 if officials begin to work toward those goals now. The study provided pathways to reach those goals, and each one has a similar trajectory, with 73% to 92% of renewable energy generation coming from wind and solar resources.
The study was initiated by a motion introduced in 2016 by Krekorian and Councilman Mike Bonin, who thanked the climate activist organizations Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and Sunrise Movement for moving the city forward on renewable energy.
“This is important for Los Angeles,” Bonin said. “This is one of the most important things we will ever do. … I think what is important from this today is that we realize that we have the power to make the change.”
Francis Yang, senior organizer for the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign, celebrated the motion’s passage but encouraged Angelenos to remain engaged in climate issues.
“Today marks a landmark achievement for our fight for climate justice and a better Los Angeles,” Yang said. “Through years of advocacy and collaboration from communities to our city leaders, Los Angeles has officially kick-started our path to 100% clean energy.
“Although the ambitious goal of 2035 or earlier is now solidified, our path forward is only beginning. Angelenos must stay engaged to determine how we get to 100% through strategic and inclusive planning that prioritizes frontline communities and creates good, clean jobs.”
The City Council also ordered the DWP to create a long-term hiring and workforce plan focused on “ensuring project labor agreements, prevailing wage and targeted hiring requirements” and increasing hiring from neighborhoods that are “environmentally and economically disadvantaged.”
“Becoming a 100% sustainable city requires a transition to a green economy that will provide thousands of environmentally-friendly jobs for current and future workplace here in Los Angeles,” O’Farrell said.