Monday, July 13, 2009

Los Angeles to Dump Coal Use by 2020

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced that his city will completely eliminate coal from its electricity use by 2020.

The L.A. Department of Water and Power (LADWP) currently gets 40% of its electricity from coal plants outside of the state (California itself doesn't have any). With this move, the LADWP expects to cuts its carbon dioxide emissions by up to 60% from 1990 levels (with 1.45 million electricity customers, it's the largest city-owned utility in the nation).

Instead, about 40% of the power the city currently gets from coal will be replaced with renewable energy sources like solar and wind. The other 60% will come from natural gas, nuclear and hydro.

As a result of this decision, a proposed coal plant in Utah was canceled, as the LADWP was to be its biggest customer.

Why now?

The city decided to make the switch to avoid paying more for fossil fuel electricity in the future, when carbon regulations (both California's state regulations and federal ones, like a cap-and-trade policy) increase the cost of doing business with fossil fuels. Not to mention the "costs to society," like higher medical bills for lung-related diseases such as asthma.

However, the Mayor's office noted that eliminating coal power will mean higher electricity rates in the short-term
(although LADWP expects its rates to remain competitive with the rest of Southern California). Deputy Mayor David Freeman explained:
"The rates are going to go up. There is no way you can bring in renewable energy and not have some rate impact when you replace coal. But the value to society even aside from global warming is going to be positive."
This is a straightforward message that people will need to hear as cities and states continue to replace their dirty electricity sources with clean ones. There may be modest, short-term increases in electricity costs, but the long-term savings from cleaner, unlimited energy and a healthier, cleaner society will outweigh those costs - especially when combined with energy efficiency improvements (as Los Angeles is doing) to further drive down energy demand.

via
VanNess Feldman Law Firm and Reuters

1 comment:

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