LA’s Coal-Free Ambitions Lack A Clear Plan
This article first appeared April 12, 2011 on NBCLosAngeles.com under the title, "LA Faces Tough Energy Challenge."
Case in point: nearly two years ago Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged to make Los Angeles a coal-free city by 2020, but little progress has been made.
Romel Pascual, deputy mayor of environmental issues, acknowledged the lag.
“That commitment is still there,” Pascual said. “The goal is still there. How quickly we’ll get there, I suppose, is the biggest issue.”
Right now 76 percent of the electricity provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is generated from coal and natural gas, according to the mayor’s office.
The DWP, the largest city-owned utility company in the country, supplies power to 1.45 million customers annually, with roughly 40 percent of L.A.’s energy coming from coal-fired power plants. To put that in perspective, L.A. burns about 12,000 tons of coal every day and more than 4 million tons per year to generate electricity, according to the Sierra Club-backed Beyond Coal Campaign.
“We aren’t on track because there is currently no plan in place,” David Graham-Caso, associate press deputy for the Sierra Club, said. “There was no schedule laid out. There was a date and an end goal, but no concrete plan.”
L.A. owns shares in two out-of-state coal plants – the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and the Intermountain Power Project in Utah – which released a combined total of more than 36 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2006, according to the Beyond Coal Campaign’s website.
Late last year the DWP released an integrated resource plan or IRP addressing the city’s current coal consumption.
Included in the IRP was a stipulation to sever ties with the Navajo Generating Station by 2014, which would reduce the DWP’s emissions by 10.5 million metric tons – equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from the road.
But the IRP suggested 2027 as the planned split from the coal power plant in Utah, the year DWP’s contract with the facility expires...
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