Los Angeles to Go Coal-Free As It Ramps Up Renewables

Los Angeles currently gets 39% of its electricity from coal, but that will end soon. 

In the coming weeks, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced he will sign agreements that will make the city coal-free. The coal comes from two outdated dirty plants, one in Utah, the other in Arizona. He will end the contract in Arizona by 2015 and the one in Utah by 2025.

Since 2005, when he took office, renewable energy has grown from 3% to 20% and the use of coal has dropped from 50% to 40%.

That’s right, clean energy now supplies 20% of Los Angeles’  power and the new projects it has committed to over the past year will supply another 330,000 homes.

Last year, Los Angeles approved a solar feed-in tariff, the first large city in the US to do so. Under the CLEAN LA program, solar energy will be sold to the Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the US. The program has a cap of 150 megawatts (MW), which will provide electricity for about 35,000 homes. As of February, the program is closed – applications for solar projects exceed the cap five-fold. 

That’s a tiny program, but it’s a start. The goal is to reach 600 MW by 2020.

Most of LA’s renewable energy comes from outside the city right now. By incentivizing local solar production on the city’s vast, unused rooftops, the result will be more efficient power delivery and meaningful local jobs in solar sales, installation and maintenance.

"The 12,000+ acres of available rooftop space available for solar could generate as much as 5.5 gigawatts of power in Los Angeles," says Jacob Lipa, LA Business Council Chairman. "While getting to a 600 megawatt FiT only takes advantage of a fraction of the total capacity in the city, it’s a great start to encourage investment in the city."

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